Tech firms attempt to standardise the metaverse

Tech

Meta (Facebook), Nvidia, Epic, Microsoft and others have signed up to The Metaverse Standards Forum, which wants to establish some consistency on open standards and terminology surrounding the metaverse.

It’s hard to say exactly what the metaverse is. Is it a meaningless buzzword, the next level of human interaction, a bad bet by Mark Zuckerberg, or simply VR gaming by another name? You can find plenty of people describing it as all of these and more.

Perhaps partly driven by a desire to actually nail down what it is we are talking about when the subject comes up – which in tech circles is about 8 times a day –  a gang of companies have got together and launched the Metaverse Standards Forum.

The organisation ‘brings together leading standards organizations and companies for industry-wide cooperation on interoperability standards needed to build the open metaverse,’ we are told. More specifically, it will look at implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tooling in order to set up some metaverse standards, encourage consistent terminology, and ‘deployment guidelines’. Topics the group might chew over include 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 Metaverse Standards Forum is ‘hosted’ by the Knonos Group, whatever that means. Neil Trevett, Khronos president, said: “The metaverse will bring together diverse technologies, requiring a constellation of interoperability standards, created and maintained by many standards organizations. The Metaverse Standards Forum is a unique venue for coordination between standards organizations and industry, with a mission to foster the pragmatic and timely standardization that will be essential to an open and inclusive metaverse.”

A lot of the major players in the space, or firms that talk about the space a lot in any case, are involved. The list of members includes 0xSenses, Academy Software Foundation, Adobe, Alibaba, Autodesk, Avataar, Blackshark.ai, CalConnect, Cesium, Daly Realism, Disguise, the Enosema Foundation, Epic Games, the Express Language Foundation, Huawei, IKEA, John Peddie Research, Khronos, Lamina1, Maxon, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, OpenAR Cloud, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Otoy, Perey Research and Consulting, Qualcomm Technologies, Ribose, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Spatial Web Foundation, Unity, VerseMaker, Wayfair, the Web3D Consortium, the World Wide Web Consortium, and the XR Association.

“Building a metaverse for everyone will require an industry-wide focus on common standards,” said Vishal Shah, vice president of Metaverse at Meta. “The Metaverse Standards Forum can drive the collaboration that’s needed to make this possible, and Meta is committed to this work. Creators, developers and companies will all benefit from the technologies and experiences that will be made possible by common protocols.”

Rev Lebaredian, vice president, Omniverse & Simulation Technology at Nvidia added: “Nvidia understands the metaverse as an evolution of the Internet — from today’s 2D view of the web to an immersive 3D spatial overlay. For the metaverse to be successful and ubiquitous, it must be built on open standards, just like today’s 2D web — and our joining the Metaverse Standards Forum will help the community usher in a new era of collaborative and open 3D standards that will form the foundation of the metaverse.”

You’d expect some consensus to exist on what a technology actually is and what it is used for before you start down the more nitty gritty pursuit of locking in standards and such, but perhaps the metaverse is just unique in that way. In any case, it can’t hurt to have some sort of shared terminology being codified at least. However many of those outside the esteemed ranks of The Metaverse Standards Forum are still waiting to be convinced the companies involved have a clear idea of what it is exactly they are trying to flog when they talk about the metaverse, but it’s nice to know whatever it is will be met with ‘pragmatic and timely standardization’, we suppose.

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