From Meta to Siemens, virtual worlds are growing

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has invested billions to make the company, formerly known as Facebook, a metaverse-first social media experience. This month, players of Meta’s Oculus Quest 3D virtual reality (VR) headset games got a taste of what it could eventually look like.

Despite the investment of time, money, and prestige involved in renaming the company, Zuckerberg hadn’t made much headway in building an immersive virtual reality where people could really get social.

That changed on June 14 when the company released an update to Meta Horizon Home which was essentially a launch site – where players of the 3D games went between logging in and choosing a game to play, or a “temporary space” – in a real, if very, very provisional metaverse space.

Also see: Quest VR Update Adds Social Hangouts To Meta Horizon Home

While users could customize it to resemble a snowy mountain cabin or cyberpunk crash path, the connected experience wasn’t quite there. Now users can invite their friends to hang out, watch movies and concerts, and work out strategies before starting multiplayer games.

Developing the technology

As for how far a true metaverse is, on June 20, Zuckerberg showcased the progress the company has made in developing VR headset technology that can make the metaverse something more than a very cartoon-like experience.

The good news is that they are making progress with a number of technologies to improve the experience. For example, a headset prototype is concerned with focal depth.

“Normal monitors are at a fixed distance, so you can only focus in one place,” Zuckerberg says. “But in VR and AR, you have to be able to focus on things that are very close and very far.”

That requires eye-tracking and “resolving optical distortion in software so fast it’s undetectable to the human eye,” he added. Others have to do with the much higher resolution and clarity needed for a realistic experience.

The bad news is that they all have one feature in common: they’re huge, and they all need to be shrunk into one headset that’s light enough to wear for hours on end.

On a broader metaverse development note, Meta joined Microsoft, Alibaba, Sony Interactive Entertainment and several hundred other tech companies and organizations to launch the Metaverse Standards Forum on June 21. The goal is to “create a place for collaboration between standardization organizations and companies to promote the development of interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse.”

Read more: China’s Tencent Holdings Launches Metaverse Division

Not all fun and games

German engineering and technology giant Siemens and chipmaker Nvidia have teamed up to build an industrial metaverse where companies can design and test everything from plant holders to entire factories in a 3D “hands-on” experience.

“We can essentially replace having to build something in the real world first,” Tony Hemmelgarn, CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, told Reuters on June 29.

The goal, he added, is to try and make sure things “are going to work well before we commit to building them in the real world when it gets very expensive and hard to change.”

Related: Siemens, Nvidia, team up for Industrial Metaverse

On a smaller scale, Lowe’s launched a metaverse hub intended to help people visualize home furnishing and improvement projects – using products available from the home improvement retailer.

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