Metaverse catching up to smartphones, says Meta head of product
For Meta's head of product, the metaverse could be as important smartphones. But the technology still misses something at the moment.
"The metaverse" is a very elastic term. For some, it is the future: a new three-dimensional form of the internet, and much more. Others devalue the term, using it as a buzzword to shill NFT collections.
The former Facebook Company, now called Meta, belongs to the first group and is betting big on metaverse development and the virtual reality and augmented reality technologies driving it. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chris Cox, Meta's head of product, explained the current shortcomings.
Is the Metaverse catching up with smartphones?
Meta spent the last eight years developing a product line for virtual reality, according to Cox. It needed to be affordable, accessible, and immersive enough to incorporate into anything. That means social experiences, fitness, gaming, medicine, drug development, and product design.
With the Meta Quest 2 (review), they seem to have largely succeeded in doing just that. The Quest 2 is the most widely used VR headset and the most popular VR platform for developers. For the metaverse to one day become as important as the smartphone, however, Cox says something is still missing.
Meta says the metaverse needs to become more accessible
Cox sees today's internet as a model for a working metaverse. "I think the Internet is a very good way of thinking about the metaverse, because some parts of the Internet are very coherent with each other," Cox said during a panel discussion.
Today, he said, moving from one app to the next across devices is effortless. Instagram or Google Maps work the same on every device, he said, and confusion is all but eliminated. Such interoperability simply does not exist at the current stage of metaverse development.
Many calls for open metaverse
In his view, Cox is in illustrious company. Experts regularly call for rules for an open metaverse. The Khronos Group, for example, advocates uniform metaverse standards. To minimize compatibility problems from the outset, the Metaverse Standards Forum aims to bring the industry together and jointly create interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse.
Metaverse wordsmith Neal Stephenson also wants an open metaverse. The Snow Crash author even wants to contribute to it himself with his company Lamina1. Together with co-founder Peter Vessenes, he aims to lay the metaverse foundation and build an open-source blockchain.