In his speech, Zuckerberg reiterated that Meta will not be building the metaverse on its own, but he did not confirm that Meta would fully embrace Web3 technologies in the future. At its Connect conference, Meta presented its latest metaverse announcements. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Meta, stated that an “open, interoperable” metaverse will benefit everyone.
Meta, the rebranded parent company of Facebook and Instagram, presented its grand plan last October to build an immersive future internet for the metaverse. The stock price of the social media giant has dropped by 60% and its growth has slowed. Metaverse buzz has surged and fallen, drawing backlash.
Meta remains focused on its vision, despite all that. The company hosted its annual MetaConnect conference keynote today to present its latest developments for the metaverse. This included a new VR headset that will allow for more extravagant online worlds and interactions.
Some HTML3 builders feared Meta’s involvement in the creation of the metaverse. The social media company was expected to create another “walled garden” (or closed ecosystem). The company’s messaging has changed to reflect a revised approach. Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, took today his strongest stance to date on the potential for an open metaverse.
Zuckerberg spoke about the history between closed and open ecosystems in computing history. He noted that “closed ecosystems are focused on tight control and integration” which ultimately enables them to claim the majority of the created value. Zuckerberg clarified that Meta values are a different approach when it comes to the metaverse.
He stated, “I strongly believe an open, interoperable and beneficial metaverse created by many developers and companies will be better for all.”
It’s not clear that this means that Facebook’s metaverse will use blockchain technology. It’s also an acknowledgement that Meta is not the primary or sole builder of the metaverse.
In a May essay, Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, made similar comments. In a podcast interview , Zuckerberg also stated that he was open to interoperability within the metaverse. However, he didn’t detail his company’s plans.
Zuckerberg spoke today about interoperability in avatar customizations. However, this may just mean that accessories and apparel can be transferred to other platforms that support Meta avatar tech rather than being used with other types of NFT-based avatars.
Meta has adopted NFT collectibles over the past few months from leading platforms such as Ethereum, Polygon and -Flow. In addition to launching integrations for Facebook and Instagram, users can now showcase their NFT assets to their friends and followers. Meta will also embrace the NFT ecosystem as it builds its metaverse platform.
Yat Siu, Animoca Brands, a prominent metaverse investor, told Decrypt last year that tech giants such as Tencent and Facebook are “a threat” to an open, interoperable metaverse and other users in the space have expressed similar concerns.
Although Zuckerberg’s comments today do not indicate that Meta plans for Meta to work hand-in-hand with Web3 creators or fully embrace open-source technology, it is the strongest indication yet that the Facebook company is trying to make a significant shift in the way it designs online platforms.
Meta also made several announcements in the keynote speech that indicated ongoing progress towards realizing its metaverse vision on the software and hardware fronts.
Meta has unveiled the Quest Pro standalone VR headset, which is designed for professionals and business users. The Meta Quest Pro headset will be $1,500, and it packs a lot more power than the $400 Meta Quest 2 headset that’s intended for consumers.
It’s not just a virtual reality headset. Mixed reality devices can also be used to create augmented reality experiences. They can overlay digital content onto a user’s real-world view. To enable this feature, it uses sharper external cameras. It also integrates inward-facing sensors that can recreate facial expressions of users and allow them to track their eyes.
Meta’s efforts towards the metaverse are not limited to hardware. The firm is also working on the infrastructure and software necessary for the launch of its planned unified online 3D platform. It is designed for play, work, socializing and shopping.
Meta today announced that the Horizon Worlds VR app, which is currently available on the firm’s website, will now be accessible via the internet. Users can join the VR experience using a computer or touch screen device. Meta may be indicating that it plans to expand its VR experience into a multiplatform world, which could eventually lead to something similar to the demo last year.
This announcement is made after a report was published that suggested that Horizon Worlds had significant bugs and quality problems and that Meta’s employees seldom use the platform. It is possible that there will be significant work to improve the experience and make it compatible with other devices.
Meta is also developing more detailed avatars for use across its apps including Horizon Worlds and Instagram. They’ll even get legs in 2023. The Meta’s Horizon Worlds avatars currently have floating torsos. However, the company is working on A.I. technology to create digital legs using predictive algorithms.
Meta also announced a significant new partner in tech giant Microsoft. This partnership will initially yield results in a few key ways.
Microsoft will offer immersive versions of Windows, Teams and Office to the Quest VR platform. Meta’s avatar system, however, will be integrated into Teams. This cross-compatibility could indicate further metaverse moves. Meta demonstrated previously how the metaverse can be used to collaborate remotely across virtual screens.
Today’s presentation shows that Meta is not backing down despite opposition to its growing metaverse ventures. Mark Zuckerberg stated in an interview that this will be a deliberate investment and building process. He described it as a “long term journey” and said that it could take several more years for the technology to mature.
Meta teased future technologies in the keynote, which included photo-real 3D avatars created from smartphone scans. Also, interfaces and control systems that can be controlled by subtle finger movements were mentioned. These features are still prototypes, and they may not be included in final products.
Although Meta’s metaverse plan may still be years away, today’s keynote offered some interesting updates and could have changed the tone of the social media company’s approach.