What’s the news? Meta, Epic Games, Microsoft, and 34 other companies and organisations have come together to form the Metaverse Standards Forum for cooperation on interoperability standards needed to build the metaverse, the forum announced on June 21.
Why does this matter? Unlike the internet, the Metaverse is being pitched as a much more open and interoperable technology, meaning data, digital assets, content, etc. can be taken from one platform to another seamlessly. For example, the game skin you buy in Counter Strike can also be used in Fortnite or you have one avatar as the user account across all platforms built on the metaverse. However, for this to become reality, there needs to be open standards and specifications that platforms can adopt. “I do think that, just like you have the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] that helps set standards around a bunch of the important internet protocols and how people build the web, I think there will need to be some of that here too, for defining how developers and creators can build experiences that allow someone to take their avatar and their digital goods and their friends, and be able to teleport seamlessly between all these different experiences,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year. The Metaverse Standards Forum appears to be the first big step in this direction.
“I don’t think in the future, people are going to call the work that individual companies do a metaverse. Hopefully, if we’re successful collectively in building a system that’s more interoperable, and where you can teleport between things, it should all be the metaverse, each company should not have its own metaverse. Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound as ridiculous as asking a company how their internet is going.” – Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg
What will the Metaverse Standards Forum do? According to the press release, “the Forum will explore where the lack of interoperability is holding back metaverse deployment and how the work of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) defining and evolving needed standards may be coordinated and accelerated.” It will do so by carrying out projects such as implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tooling to accelerate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards, while also developing consistent terminology and deployment guidelines, the press release stated. “The activities of the Forum will be directed by the needs and interests of its members and may involve diverse technology domains such as 3D assets and rendering, human interface and interaction paradigms such as AR and VR, user-created content, avatars, identity management, privacy, and financial transactions,” the release added.
- Different companies will have different visions: “I don’t think every company is going to have exactly the same vision here. I think some are going to have more siloed visions, and I, at least, believe that in order for this to work really well, you want it to be very portable and interconnected,” Zuckerberg said last year.
- Agreement on standards and protocols: “The more valuable and interoperable the Metaverse is, the harder it will be to establish industry-wide consensus around topics such as data security, data persistence, forward-compatible code evolution, and transactions,” venture capitalist Matthew Ball pointed out.
Who can join the Forum? Membership is open to any company, standards organization, or university at no charge, the Forum said.
List of companies and organisations that are already members:
- Academy Software Foundation
- Daly Realism
- The Enosema Foundation
- Epic Games
- The Express Language Foundation
- John Peddie Research
- OpenAR Cloud
- the Open Geospatial Consortium
- Perey Research and Consulting
- Qualcomm Technologies
- Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Spatial Web Foundation
- The Web3D Consortium
- the World Wide Web Consortium
- The XR Association (XRA)
Notable companies missing: Strangely, a few big names like Apple, Niantic, and Roblox, who are all working on technology connected to the metaverse, are yet to join the forum.
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