On 28.10.2021 Facebook announced that it will change it’s name, and focus on creating a Metaversa, a virtual world offering various forms of entertainment. In my personal opinion, Ready Player One is currently the most accurate film describing the Metaverse, and while it is a still science fiction, the key technology for creating a Metaverse already exists: server side rendering. One implementation of it is called Pixel Streaming. It is developed by Epic Games, the company behind one of the most successful games of this era, Fortnite.
Technologywise server side rendering will be as revolutionary as the internet protocol, as it allows navigating across different provides of virtual environments through browser, without the need on install anything locally, same way as you would navigate webpages. This makes it possible to experience the virtual worlds with any pc, not just high end gaming rigs.
3D helmets, such as the Oculus Quest are also commercially affordable, but the Metaverse doesn’t need a 3D to be functional, it can run on a regular display just fine. This is important, as the current 3d helmets are uncomfortable, and do not in practice allow for multiple hours of continuous usage.
Third relevant, but not mandatory, piece of the puzzle is the payment system. Even though regular payment systems allow transactions from clients to companies, they don’t really enable transactions between individuals. The Metaverse transaction system could be based on cryptocurrencies, or it can be based on conventional money, both options exists already.
Haptics are a non-essential part of the Metaverse, even though first implementations already exist.
The key component still missing is the address book, or the domain name system for the Metaverse – this would allow creating portals from one virtual world to another and moving across them without breaking the immersion. Naturally, would be good to harmonize (= standardize) the controls (wasd + mouse to begin with), audio setup and login (identity), and I would expect the major players to shake hands concerning this instead of creating walled gardens (Forbes 18.11.2021)
Still, in singular instances all of this is already very doable, as the project cost is roughly the same as generating a website for a company. The running costs are around an euro per user per hour, but this will go much lower with time.
Within a year, the first to virtual worlds will be connected to each other (if not already), which marks the beginning of the Metaverse, the same way the Internet was born on January 1st 1983.
The writer is a liberal philosopher with a MSc. in Software Engineering and Business.