Metaverse has great potential. But for now, the general public associates it mostly with strange avatars that are too far from reality, questionable virtual land sales, unclear NFTs, and user experience that can hardly compete with anything.
For the metaverse to advance and for us to enjoy all the benefits it can deliver, technologies enabling a metaverse shall be developed enough to offer that immersive virtual experience that users count on. But technology development alone doesn’t guarantee the acceptance of a metaverse. Something else is needed, and this something may be implemented in 2023.
Virtual reality techs are expected to advance in 2023 to a great extent. Thus, VR worlds in 2023 will finally stop looking like cartoonish virtual worlds filled with objects, creepy avatars and characters that are far from the real world.
VR and mixed reality will become the base for this new move in the virtual world development and its merge with the physical world.
The term metaverse was used much earlier than technology was developed, enabling the arrival of a virtual world.
The term “metaverse” was first used by Neal Stephenson in his futuristic novel Snow Crash in 1992. In the novel, a metaverse is a three-dimensional virtual world where humans interact with each other as programmable avatars.
Further, this term was used in a dystopian science fiction franchise Ready Player One, where users share a virtual space called “the OASIS.”
The novel was released in 2011. It depicts the world of the future that is shattered by the ecological crisis, political crisis and economic stagnation. That’s why people prefer to escape into a virtual world that functions as a multi-player game and a space for socializing.
When Mark Zuckerberg announced that they are going to rebrand Facebook and related ecosystems to Meta, it became clear that the society-changing technology that will help to merge the digital worlds with the physical world was here.
Many companies now work on their own metaverses.
Microsoft is creating virtual working spaces where teams can make calls, organize virtual meetings and collaborate in these virtual spaces to improve performance and look for solutions.
Roblox is creating its own metaverse – a reflection of the real world. Users can buy property, communicate, visit each other, visit virtual events such as sports events, concerts, etc, and live their lives just like they do in their traditional offices.
Decentraland is working on its own world where users can do just anything. But the main asset of this metaverse island. Some plots are known to be purchased for millions of dollars, and this is not the top yet.
Minecraft, one of the top games in the world based on a number of parameters, such as profitability and the number of active users, is also working on its own Minecraft world in VR. In this world, players can perform their daily activities such as constructing, mining, or whatever, but not just on a computer screen. They can experience that MR world to the full extent.
In the near future, it won’t be enough to produce quality content for a company to thrive. Users will be more spoilt by technology, and thus, they will want something new, something more immersive, every day.
This is why most companies are building gaming metaverses to enable their communities to play and enjoy top gaming experiences and to invest and earn from their activities.
Experience showed that people don’t like to be cut off the reality. It doesn’t matter whether users play video games today or whether they are buying virtual objects, visiting virtual events, or using any other type of immersive virtual content; they want to get immersive experiences without getting the connection to reality.
It means that the future of the metaverse is the combination of virtual and augmented reality. Real and virtual objects shall create synergy and be seamlessly combined to make users enjoy a unified mixed reality.
Now, various platforms work on the development of virtual environments that can be used for various purposes.
After all the struggles in 2022, Meta announced the release of Meta Quest Pro. It is hardware that mixes the MR with color passthrough cameras.
Early passthrough cameras couldn’t provide the experience needed for a fully immersive VR. This problem will now be solved with the application of quality passthrough cameras.
For now, though, there is no software that can serve this device. But once such software rolls out, this impressive device may become mainstream.
HTC announced the release of a headset that will be able to provide an even more realistic experience than Meta Quest Pro. It will have perfectly aligned cameras (it will feature quality passthrough cameras) that will eliminate low-fidelity graphics.
This device will have such high fidelity that users will be able to look at their real-world phone and see messages in augmented reality.
Apple could not stay aside and announced the release of its MR set. This Apple device is expected to be the most powerful MR set that we have seen. Poor fidelity will be forgotten thanks to the use of top-quality passthrough cameral and LiDAR sensors.
It is expected that this device will merge two opposing mental models by combining metaverse technology with physical surroundings. It, in turn, will speed up the worldwide acceptance of the new technology and will change the way we live: work, interact, rest, and so on.
If the rumors about LiDAR sensors are correct, it means that this Apple device will enable high-precision registration of virtual surfaces and all virtual content to the physical surroundings.
It, in turn, means enabling users to interact with both physical and digital objects in a single reality. So, this device will create something, some space that will effectively combine objective reality with the imaginary world and make them interact to provide us with an immersive experience.
Even though many tech giants are already working on the development of their own metaverse worlds, we are still far from its worldwide acceptance. Initially, it was believed that the problem was in underdeveloped technology.
So, early passthrough cameras aligned improperly couldn’t provide the virtual surface and distance experience needed to prevent mental tension that arises every time when users shift from one reality to another.
But no. Even when VR devices evolved and spatially registered virtual content was improved, users still felt uneasy when they had to spend a few hours in virtual reality. The information provided by physical senses and virtual fixtures simply didn’t coincide, and it was forming a real hole between two worlds.
So, technology development alone was not a solution to the acceptance problem. Even with top-quality devices and tools, people would not accept the VR world to stay there, most of time, needless to mention staying there on a permanent basis.
Users perform better and feel better when they stay connected to the real world. That’s why specialists concluded that not virtual reality but the mixed reality is the technology that will enhance human performance and enable the same person to perform real-world tasks in a better way.
In this mixed reality world, the virtual surface automatically turned to the physical world will allow us to play games, watch movies, buy digital assets, interact, and perform all the actions that a person can do in the real world, with all the senses aligned.
Platforms that enable all these experiences already exist. So, the Virtual Fixtures platform at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the USA can not only support sight and sound. This platform supports touch and feel and involves adding virtual objects to the real world.
With it, the platform enables users to perform manual tasks in augmented reality.
It is expected that platforms like those built at the air force base and other mixed-reality ecosystems will be used more than board games or interactive games.
Once their technology evolves enough, it moves to the mainstream markets. All industries can benefit greatly from mixed reality; it doesn’t matter whether consumers prefer HTC’s, Apple’s, or somebody else’s MR set.
With it, MR can be involved in helping technicians repair satellites, support surgery operations, boost people’s mental abilities, speed up the development and spreading of education, and so on.
Early vision systems were not aimed at creating a virtual or mixed-reality world. They were aimed at solving some real-world tasks and involved moving metal pegs on a large wooden pegboard to do so. Further, software was written that could help users perform those tasks using pegs.
Even though this technology is outdated and was not involved in any surgery or satellite repair, it made a significant impact on the development of today’s mixed reality world and allowed us to learn about those numerous use cases of mixed reality.
How long can an average person spend in VR? Not much, and as we have found out, it is not because devices that enable VR are underdeveloped. It is because the senses are misaligned with feelings and perceptions.
Mixed reality solves this problem efficiently. An own MR headset with advanced vision forward technology enables us to perceive the physical surroundings boosted by AR experiences. The latest developments show that we are on the right way, and 2023 can become the year of mixed reality.
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