No one can be told what the Metaverse is

Or can they? Of course we can tell what the Metaverse is! You can ask that from 100 different people and you will have 100 different variations in the return. It is kind of quantum mechanics – you think you know what it is until you ask. The good seems to be that all of them are right and incorrect at the same time. Only when we look at the history in the future we know where the evolution of the Metaverse took us and how it formed up. Let my try to explain you what the Metaverse is in my view.

Metaverse Tech

The Metaverse tech is a collection of technologies that are used to create experiences and capabilities that are used in the Metaverse. These technologies include, but are not limited to, Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Twins, Synchronized IoT, Blockchain, Cryptos, NFTs, Machine Learning, Smart Buildings, Smart Cities, Avatars, Immersive Spaces, Platforms such as Microsoft, NVIDIA Omniverse, Meta, Spatial and other various Cloud services. Typically AI services like translations, text-to-speech, text-to-image, text-to-3D and so on are included. And of course IoT and devices used for creation of mixed or virtual reality experiences, tracking movement or sensory data.

One good example of this tech are “digital twins of people” or “talking heads” that can be used to create short videos that look like you are the one doing the speaking. But instead of your own voice (this could be done as well, with synthetic voice services) your are using one of pre-configured ones. These talking head videos are easy to create and they often have also an API that allows creation programmatically. Think use cases for your onboarding or training use, to your Metaverse or Intranet spaces or showrooms. On top of these you can speak in multiple languages. The benefit is the friendly and known face but easiness to update and create materials whenever needed. Without a studio.

You can test out the result with my talking head animated to speak the text here.

Yes, it does look a bit spooky and unnatural. This depends on the chosen image.

The Metaverse tech uses a lot of Artificial Intelligence and we are going to be using AI and the Metaverse tech a lot more in the future than we do today.

Creation of this talking video with D-ID service. Subscription to this service costs 49 USD a month. That gives gives you 60 credits or 15 minutes of video generation a month. One credit is 15 second video. The video in this article cost 7 credits.

My talking head could be speaking this one in various languages. Of course I would have to use AI to translate the text first. And yes, it even works in Finnish very well.

There is also API documentation of D-ID available.

Still photos in article are also created by using the Metaverse Tech: text to image. DALL-E and Stable Diffusion. To create good quality pictures using text to image services does require practice and imagination. This is just one more skill we need to have and master on the Metaverse era.

All tech can be used for good and bad. Artificial Intelligence tech is becoming so good that creation of deep fakes, fake news and impersonation of people will becoming more easier and more common. Unfortunately there are people who don’t follow the rules. I predict that responsible use of tech (AI, Metaverse, Digital Twins and more) will be a big topic really soon even more than they are today. Metaverse Tech needs to also apply ethical use into it’s core as it evolves and develops further.

The Metaverse .. or Metaverses .. today

The Metaverse is a persistent and collaborative digital world that can be connected and synchronized to the physical one, with the help of Metaverse tech.

This includes Virtual and Mixed Reality and Immersive Worlds and Experiences but also spaces that exist only in digital form, such as Synchronized Digital Twins. We all are part of the metaverse since we are using the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence. Think your smart watch and mobile phone – you are connected and synchronized all the time and AI is helping you to make your day run more smoothly. In the sense Metaverse is converging different tech together and allowing us to do much more with that unity of capabilities.

The result of this image is much more natural and better for text to Talking head use

Today we are in the world that has multiple Metaverse tech companies and offerings for the platform. These platforms are mostly separate and there is a very little of interoperability existing. That is why it makes sense to speak about Metaverses referring to digital worlds or spaces that are persistent and collaborative in the nature. I personally use the term Metaverse as an umbrella term for all Metaverse related tech in a very broad sense.

It goes to the point that it is a very good question “is Fortnite part of the Metaverse?“. As it is primarily a game, my instinct tells me to say no, but my reasoning is telling me that since it is becoming more persistent and collaborative I should say yes. It is a thin line for sure. Thinking other digital space apps like AltSpace VR. It is a virtual world but it is also collaborative and persistent. That makes it easy to include in the Metaverse picture.

And then there is of course the spatial part, where digital and physical worlds are linked with the location. When you walk the physical space you are also linked to the digital one – Industrial Metaverse is very often a good example of this technology. Maintenance worker or engineer at the factory can use Mixed Reality to augment physical world with digital information. This spatial tech is very often related to Digital Twins, but it could be also used for highlighting relevant information to the person: be it navigation or even ability to perform certain actions only in a specific location.

But all this also makes everything much more unclear and chaotic. What is the Metaverse, what is the impact, how it is changing everything. Today Metaverse is very much platform and app driven experience, that is disconnected from other Metaverses. In a sense the future Mesh for Teams meeting is it’s own metaverse: it is a persistent and collaborative space where we can talk and meet with others. Just like Meta Horizon Workrooms today. But it doesn’t have much interoperability in the way would love the Metaverse to have. I do think and will be saying “let’s meet in the Metaverse”, while the truly right way to say it would be “let’s meet in the Teams immersive meeting room”.

And no, I don’t even go to NFTs and Blockchain transactions in this article. These are tech that help to create various Metaverse experiences and create business there.

The Metaverse in the future

Now the really interesting part – what the Metaverse will be? There are various standards ( The Metaverse Standards Forum) that are coming up later to open the door for interoperability. Today various platform companies (NVIDIA for one) are creating Metaverse solutions (OMNIVERSE) that are built on those standards. In the future it will be easier to reuse content between platforms as standards are applied on all platforms that want to be in the Metaverse. There are lots of challenges on the way before we could re-use our avatars in different platforms – and I am not even diving to the pit where avatars are equipped with NFTs. This path will require interop, compliance and rules before it is realistic. I don’t doubt that we would not be there eventually, but it will be taking some time. Ready Player Me has taken some really good steps forward in this, and it is hopefully an example for others to join the club of avatar wide-spread use.

Today a lot of people are using Azure AD identity at work and – for example – Google or Apple identity to log into various consumer services. Perhaps in the (far) future we can have one Metaverse identity, but I doubt that. Our identities are governed by various compliance and governance rules – especially at the workplace. These identities might be linked together – or we just use the Crypto Wallet to keep our consumer side information together. Businesses will want to make sure the identity is safe, verified and secured. And in order to avoid consumer identity theft those rules will need to be applied there as well. For these reasons it will not be that easy. As won’t be the ethics, rules and responsible use of the Metaverse & AI either.

The next part is of course that the Metaverse will not reach it’s full potential until it is a network. Think the internet and websites today – it is easy to create links between sites and jump to explore the “world wide web”. It will surely be more complicated with the Metaverse, but some kind of Metaverse-links will be there, that allow us to jump between metaverses. More and more Metaverse platforms need to start supporting these links as they are standardized. We need to be able to have a portal from Meta Horizon Workroom to the Spatial and to the Event running at Mesh Platform. Or having a direct portal to the Mesh Immersive meeting without having to open a browser in the middle. And yes, I think these Metaverse links should be called portals. 😎

The Future of Metaverse is made of collaboration and interoperability. Otherwise it won’t thrive.

In the Future we can use the term Metaverse as a singular entity, a vast network, where different Metaverse experiences, digital twins, spatial information and actions, are powered by the Metaverse tech and are being manifested in all possible forms: Immersive, Mixed Reality, 2D, Haptic, Spatial, Digital, Senses and more. And this entity is made of various interlinked (or interportalled) experiences running on various platforms. It is not just a virtual space, but inclusive to all formats and forms that enable persistent and collaborative spaces. On any device. Anywhere. At that time it won’t make sense to speak about Metaverses, but a single Metaverse where we visit various spaces and locations. These spaces and locations are persistent, spatial and collaborative in the nature and in the core.

No one can be told what the Metaverse is, because nobody knows what it will be. The best way to learn is to experience it by yourself and get your own answer. What is the Metaverse?

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