What does Microsoft do What do Epic Games, Adobe, Nvidia and Ikea have in common? According to the Khronos Group, a non-profit standards organization, this is a metaverse. Despite the lack of a clear definition what does “metaverse” mean?, these and other companies are collaborating to make it compatible. So what are they really doing?
If you’ve never heard of the Khronos Group, it’s almost intentional. The non-profit organization and its over 150 member companies manage and develop the open standards that exist in many of the technologies you use today, such as OpenGL, Vulkan, and a bunch of other tools the video games you play are running in the background.
“A truly successful standard becomes so ubiquitous that you forget it’s even a standard,” says Khronos president Neil Trevett. WIRED. This has been the goal of the standards developed by the group in games, as well as in other areas such as augmented reality (or XR), machine learning, and 3D design.
So it makes sense that an organization would want to participate in the metaverse. Khronos announced the creation of a new joint organization called the Metaverse Standards Forum (or MSF) is not a new standards organization, but a “platform for collaboration” between existing organizations and standards companies – to help develop new tools for the Metaverse. Even if we haven’t figured out what the term actually means.
According to technology companies and evangelists, the metaverse will become a futuristic virtual world where we all spend our lives shopping, playing and socializing. You’ve seen Ready first player? It’s like that! Or so they say. It’s a fantastic idea and makes for good storytelling, but software isn’t built on storytelling. Someone has to actually do the thing.
“I think Ready first player exactly No how the metaverse will happen,” says Trevett. In the book, and later in the movie, which is constantly referenced when discussing this topic, “not only one company created the entire metaverse in one big bright flash – OASIS – it was one person! One coder solved all the problems that were needed in one go. And that’s definitely not how it’s going to happen.”
“I also hope that having an open, inclusive metaverse means we don’t end up in a dystopian nightmare,” adds Trevett, revealing that he is in fact read a book.
Instead, the Metaverse Standards Forum focuses on what Trevett calls “connectivity and spatial computing”: essentially the connection and interaction between real-world objects and virtual worlds. This can include everything from technologies such as digital twins– virtual, industrial environments that reflect the real world, used to learn or test things that would be impractical to test in real life – well, in general, video games.
Whether it’s a video game Fortnite it is believed that the metaverse is a dispute that will never be resolved. More tangibly, video games need to work with complex data such as 3D models, animations, and physics simulations that cannot be transferred from one application to another as easily as, say, a simple image. And video game worlds are increasingly used not just for games.
Instead of focusing on what the Metaverse means in terms of predicting the future, the Metaverse Standards Forum is designed to focus on the building blocks of what developers need today. Other people (like me) may argue about nomenclature.
When designing virtual worlds – and especially those designed to interact with the real world – you inevitably have to deal with huge amounts of data. Every object or character in a video game is made up of geometric data (i.e. the shape of the object), textures, physical characteristics such as weight and mass, behaviors, animations, sounds, and more.
Khronos hopes that the MSF standards will make much of this data as easily interoperable as, say, JPEG is today. JPEG files are known to be so easily transferred and so widely supported that no amount of cryptography can stop anyone. from right clicking and saving one. By comparison, 3D objects often don’t even know which way up. Move an object from one game engine to another, and if you can import it at all, it might break.
That’s where one Khronos project is, GLTF, seeks to help. This open standard, originally released in 2015, competes with other 3D formats such as OBJ and FBX files. Allegorically, you can think of OBJs as old BMP files: they are technically images, but the format is extremely limited, inefficient, and clumsy. Meanwhile, FBX is a bit like PSD. They are more powerful, but it is a proprietary format owned by one company.
In this painfully stretched metaphor, GLTF is a bit like a JPEG of a 3D world. At least Chronos hopes so. Part of what made the JPEG format so important is that it was an open standard that was light and useful enough to be widely adopted. GLTF may become just as popular, or it may just be another item on the list. long list of file types you can import into Blender but never use it.
But there will always be a need for interoperable standards, if only to test proprietary technology. “If there is a big delay between the technology that becomes available and the standard that makes it public,” Trevett explains, “then there is a danger that proprietary technologies will take root in the infrastructure of the metaverse, and I don’t think anyone really does this.” wants”.
“But if there is no standard, you have no choice.”
If you’re having a hard time grasping the idea of developing standards for a virtual world that might not exist, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Despite Khronos calling it the Metaverse Standards Forum – which Khronos carefully points out helps bootstrap but won’t work in the future – MSF isn’t overly concerned with defining what metaverse means. Or even whether the term continues to be used at all.
“And this texturing, the ‘metaverse’, can be replaced. I don’t think it really matters. You know, it could go down the “information superhighway” path. We no longer use this texturing,” says Trevett. Indeed, while no one uses the word “Cyberspace”, we still use the Internet that he once described.
But the idea of a fantasy virtual world, as impractical or even undesirable as it may be, is more exciting than seating people and explaining the importance of interoperable, non-proprietary data exchange formats. Meanwhile, a wide range of exciting technologies, from virtual filmmaking to photogrammetry and augmented reality, are changing the way we interact with the Internet.
Will it show up as Ready first player? Or will it just be a collection of disparate industries doing a lot of really cool stuff, but not necessarily merging into a single fantasy world? It is hard to say. Well maybe not what hard. But whatever the future is, someone has to build it.
Credit: www.wired.com /