Meta, along with Microsoft, Adobe, and other tech giants, have come together to create the Metaverse Standards Forum, a body that aims to ensure that tech organisations are on the same page when building the metaverse, and are following similar standards, to ensure open interoperability.
Conspicuously absent from this group of organisations are tech giant Apple, and gaming company Roblox.
The metaverse is a concept that’s been growing in popularity recently – it aims to create a parallel digital, virtual world that serves as an extension to everyday life, wherein people can interact as their virtual selves and not just play games, but do all the things they do in real life as well.
This would extend to activities like attending shows and concerts, business meetings, interacting with friends, all through AR and VR technologies.
In a press release put out on 21 June on their website, the Metaverse Standards Forum announced their formation, and said that they are an organisation that is free for any company to join. Companies that would like to fund projects or provide Forum oversight can join as a Principal member of the Forum.
The Metaverse Standards Forum has involved Standards Developing Organisations, like The Khronos Group (which is hosting the Forum) to help create interoperability standards for the metaverse.
Other companies that have been announced as founding members of the Metaverse Standards Forum are Epic Games, NVIDIA, Sony, Unity, Autodesk, Huawei, IKEA, Qualcomm Technologies, Web3D Consortium, the World Wide Web Consortium, among others.
The absence of companies such as Apple, Roblox, Snapchat and Niantic that have been formulating metaverse related products is glaring. Apple is poised to become a major name in the metaverse world as well, once the release of its anticipated mixed reality headset takes place.
If these companies, as significant players, avoid adopting the standards formulated by the forum, it can challenge the goal of interoperability that the metaverse as a concept is trying to attain.
The headset has not been officially announced, but according to Bloomberg, has been reportedly previewed by Apple executives to its board, and is in advanced stages of development.
Apple’s absence is especially noticeable as it has been part of the creation of web standards in the past, such as HTML5 according to Reuters, and helped create the USDZ file format along with Pixar for three-dimensional content in the metaverse.
What do they plan to achieve?
Bodies like the Metaverse Standards Forum are being created as their founding members hope that the metaverse will be something like the Internet, in that it will be an open platform for people to freely interact on and make use of as they wish.
Says Meta president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, “there won’t be a Meta-run metaverse, just as there isn’t a ‘Microsoft internet’ or ‘Google internet’ today.” He elaborates in a blog post, saying, “like the internet, the metaverse will be an interconnected system that transcends national borders, so there will need to be a web of public and private standards, norms and rules to allow for it to operate across jurisdictions.”
However, coalitions of organisations such as this one are effective only if enough companies join, and adhere to the rules and regulations formulated. Standards formulated by the group won’t actually become standards if they are not adopted by enough companies dabbling in metaverse-related products.
(with inputs from Bloomberg, Reuters)