The metaverse “does not exist yet” according to Norton Rose Fulbright in the article that describes the Metaverse as a digital parallel to the physical world. And in many ways, this is correct. The term “the metaverse” is in danger of becoming a word without substance. Used to describe extended reality, to describe smartphone apps, 3D computer-generated worlds, and philosophical predictions about the future. Perhaps, in an attempt to define the word, we should refer to “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson and the main character Hiro Protagonist.
And so, “metaverse” is described initially as a computer-generated universe. A computer-generated universe is seamless and infinite, and that we don’t yet have, so Norton Rose Fulbright is correct in this way. The metaverse does not exist yet. We have a series of independent Metaverse Platforms that will evolve to become the seamless digital universe when Interoperability happens. Interoperability, the ability to take one avatar and set of objects from one universe to another, is when the Metaverse truly arrives. The Metaverses that exist now will be interconnected, allowing you to morph your avatar between platforms.
Interconnectivity may come from hardware compatibility. Google and Apple are working on headsets for the metaverse. Project Iris from Google is an AR headset two years away from launch. Google’s Project Starline was recently demoed, which turns video chat into augmented 3-dimensional reality, and the two are rumoured to be being launched together. Apple is developing an AR/VR headset called Apple Glasses that is rumoured to be released this year. Perhaps, Apple Glasses is a quip to Google, who famously launched Google Glasses to spectacular failure. Google Glasses, however, may be seen in history as merely a product before its time.
But if Interoperability falls to one company, then the metaverse will never be a free and open platform. OMI Group (Open Metaverse Interoperability Group) hopes to ‘bridge the gap’ in Interoperability. The W3c, which governs web standards, formed OMIGroup, aiming to keep the metaverse open and interoperable for all.