The Metaverse Standard Forum: what is it and what is it for?
Launched in June 2022, the Metaverse Standard Forum brings together more than 1800 companies, universities, and standards organisations.
Is it possible to standardise the Metaverse, and why may it be important? Well, the Metaverse Standard Forum is going to give answers to these questions. Let's see together what it is and what is it doing.
What is the Metaverse Standard Forum for?
The goal of the Metaverse Standard Forum is to build “a pervasive, open and inclusive metaverse at a global scale”.
To do so, the MSF encourages organisations to define standards that will allow different metaverse applications to work together and make the entire metaverse accessible to everyone.
In other words, the goal is to make the metaverse more interoperable and unified. By doing so, the MSF hopes to accelerate its development. Indeed, the Forum wants to promote the metaverse as a platform for innovation and economic prosperity.
Why the Metaverse needs standards
At the moment, the metaverse is still in its early stages of development and it is fragmented into different platforms with their own rules and standards, which are incompatible with each other. This means that if you want to visit a friend on a platform other than the one you use, you may not be able to do so because your avatar may be not compatible.
This incompatibility is not only inconvenient for users but limits the development of the economic potential of the metaverse. In fact, not all companies can afford to open a shop on all platforms, so they risk losing the opportunity to reach all their potential customers.
In addition, the lack of common standards for things like identity, security, and data storage makes it difficult for developers to create applications that work across different platforms.
What are the Metaverse Standards?
The Metaverse Standards are a set of open standards that aim to make the metaverse more interoperable and accessible. They cover various aspects such as formats, identity, security, privacy, and data storage.
However, the Forum is not going to create the standards itself, but it will coordinate the work. The Forum's members are going to develop the standards through a bottom-up process. This means that anyone can submit a proposal for a new standard, which will be evaluated by the Metaverse Standards Working Group. If the proposal is approved, it will become an official Metaverse Standard. Once a Metaverse Standard is published, any organisation can implement it in their Metaverse applications.
The standardisation process will affect diverse technology, such as:
- virtual reality and augmented reality: how an avatar is represented in the metaverse, and how objects from the real world can be integrated into it;
- machine learning: how metaverse applications can learn from users' behaviour;
- digital twins: how to represent real-world objects and processes, for example, to simulate the impact of a new product on a manufacturing process;
- spatial computing: how to represent and interact with three-dimensional objects;
- 3D assets: how content can be created, represented, and stored;
- 3D models: how metaverse applications can use three-dimensional models;
- block building: how metaverse applications can be built using modular components;
- user interface: how Metaverse applications can be controlled and interacted with;
- avatars, identity management, and privacy: how users can be represented and how their identity and privacy can be protected.
- financial transactions: how metaverse applications can be paid for and how financial transactions can be carried out.
Wait, but…what is the Metaverse?
More or less we are all beginning to have an idea of what the Metaverse is, but perhaps it is better if we clearly explain what it is.
Metaverse is the name given to the virtual world that is created by computer programs. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash”.
In this virtual world, people can interact with each other and with computer-generated objects and characters using avatars, which are digital representations of themselves.
People can access the metaverse through devices such as VR headsets, computers, and smartphones, choosing between different platforms like Sandbox, Roblox, or Decentraland.
The metaverse can be used for entertainment, education, socialising, shopping, and business purposes. For example, companies can create virtual stores in the Metaverse and sell both real and virtual products, they can provide remote but immersive training to employees, or can provide customers with a phygital customer experience.
The metaverse can be seen as the next step in the evolution of the internet, and its potential is still largely untapped. Indeed, it is constantly evolving thanks to the development of advanced technologies. In the future, it is expected that it will become more realistic and immersive, blurring the lines between the real world and the virtual world.