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Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn Facebook into a 'metaverse company' – what does that mean? – The Conversation UK

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Director, Centre for Financial Regulation and Innovation, University of Strathclyde
Daniel Broby does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Mark Zuckerberg wants to reinvent Facebook. He has been telling analysts and journalists that he wants the company to lead the way to a completely different internet. He said:
In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company … In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.
So what does the Facebook chief executive mean by “metaverse company”? And what will the company look like if and when it gets there?
The term “metaverse” is used to describe the vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world. The idea was first conceptualised in 1992 by the American novelist Neal Stephenson in his science fiction classic, Snow Crash. It foresees the internet as a 3D virtual living space, where individuals dip in and out, interacting with one another in real time.
Many in Silicon Valley still view the metaverse as the future. For example, Google is heavily invested in augmented reality (AR), which is where you use technology to look at the real world but with digital 3D objects layered on top. And rumours swirl that Apple is building products like glasses for experiencing virtual spaces.
But Facebook appears the most committed of all to this new vision. In his quest to turn Facebook into a metaverse company, Zuckerberg is seeking to build a system where people move between virtual reality (VR), AR and even 2D devices, using realistic avatars of themselves where appropriate. Here they will work, socialise, share things and have other experiences, while still probably using the internet for some tasks such as searches which are similar to how we use it now.
Owning not only the Facebook platform but also WhatsApp, Instagram and VR headset maker Oculus gives Zuckerberg a big head start in making this a reality. Collectively, these brands give Facebook an unbeatable number of customer relationships, and all the important knowledge for creating a desirable virtual world: how people behave online, their personalities, likes and dislikes, gait, eye movement and even emotional states.
To help build the metaverse, Facebook’s engineers will have to make a success of immersive realism. Imagine a computer game with 2.9 billion avatars and the artificial intelligence that harvests all known information on them. The company has created a division called Reality Labs, whose researchers are working on creating the defining quality of the metaverse, namely “presence” – the feeling of being in a space with others. Unsurprisingly, this team is heavily staffed by people with gaming backgrounds.
Facebook is also ploughing money into software to enable activities like “teleporting” into another place like an office so that it seems as if you are really there, as well as physical kit like AR glasses and more advanced VR headsets.
Zuckerberg has said that he expects Facebook to have made this transition within the next five years, and for devices like headsets and AR glasses to be ready for heavy daily mainstream use by the end of the decade.
To succeed, Facebook is going to have to make its VR offering interoperable with metaverse systems being created by other companies online. It is also going to have to be scaleable, so that it can cope seamlessly with more and more people becoming part of it. Those are costly propositions, but integrating the technology makes sense.
Facebook has already been the subject of an antitrust case for anti-competitive practices. The lawsuit failed, but the US is still working on regulations that could force Facebook and other tech giants to scale back. Clearly the company has many enemies – not least from the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which users’ data was harvested without their consent, and what it said about how Facebook has handled privacy.
Creating a metaverse product that is fully interoperable with everything else in the metaverse will not only potentially reassure some about Facebook’s intentions, it will also make it harder for them to break it up in future. Once it is in place, competitors will find it extremely expensive to create rival systems. Facebook’s metaverse system will also be more valuable the more people that are part of the network. This is based on the idea of network effects, which is what built Facebook and America’s other online giants into trillion-dollar companies in the first place.
Changing the business model is not a light decision. With many of its customers sitting at home for more than a year due to COVID, Facebook has been firing on all cylinders. It has just reported a 57% increase in second-quarter advertising sales, a 7% rise in monthly active users (that’s 170 million more of them), and a near-doubling in net income to US$10.4 billion (£7.4 billion). As at the end of June, the company was sitting on US$64 billion of cash.
At present, advertising dominates the Facebook social-networking business model, but the move to becoming a metaverse company raises the possibility of new revenue sources. Currently users share thoughts, pictures, posts, activities, events and interests in a two-dimensional way without paying for it (at least not in the traditional sense).
But users might be willing to pay for the enhanced interactivity that will be available in the metaverse, perhaps to enter certain private areas or to do certain things, like teleporting for more than a few minutes at a time or whatever. Zuckerberg has said he believes Facebook will make money from the sale of certain virtual goods and experiences. Will we be paying for the most stylish avatar clothes in future, for example? Or to see the latest movie in a virtual cinema?
And in this new world we will probably be interacting with one another even more than we do already. This points to even more revenue opportunities for the gatekeeper.
In summary, creating a virtual world for users to interact with their friends and family is not just a fancy vision, it is a commercial necessity. Mark Zuckerberg created the first social media platform that became a global standard. Now, in virtual reality, he is trying to pull off the same trick again.
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Utherverse CEO Brian Shuster Granted Seven New Patents for … – Business Wire

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Internet pioneer now boasts more than 100 tech and internet-enabling patents
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Brian Shuster, founder and CEO of Utherverse, one of the largest metaverse platforms in the world, has been granted seven new patents for technologies designed to enhance the metaverse experience. The new technologies will begin to be deployed in the metaverse’s next generation platform, due to launch by mid-2023.

The new patents add to Utherverse’s already formidable mountain of intellectual property, addressing a variety of problems and vulnerabilities within metaverse platforms, ranging from the physics of movement and immersive displays to physical interaction between users and animation control.
“For more than two decades we have been working to enhance users’ experiences on the internet,” said Shuster. “These new patents span the three key metaverse pillars of software, hardware and remote touch; solve some inherent and significant problems with the operation of metaverse platforms; and greatly improve the ability of users to exist and thrive in hyper-realistic virtual worlds. They will provide developers with the capability to continually innovate.”
Shuster is now an inventor of more than 100 patents for internet enabling technologies. The abstracts of the seven new patents read in part:
Utherverse is a metaverse platform that enables developers to build interconnected virtual worlds, provides hyper-realistic immersive experiences for consumers and opportunities for companies to market and monetize their products and services. Utherverse generates revenue from custom metaverse building services, sales of NFTs and a variety of business verticals including advertising/marketing, shopping/retail, conferences/conventions, education, dating, lifestyle, entertainment events/performances, VIP experiences and virtual offices. The Utherverse platform was launched in 2005 by internet visionary Brian Shuster. A beta version of the next generation Utherverse platform is expected to launch by mid-2023. To date, the platform has served 50 million+ users with 32 billion+ virtual commerce transactions. Utherverse has developed the technology and received more than 40 patents critical toward operating large-scale metaverses. The company is based in British Columbia, Canada. More information can be found online at Utherverse.io; Twitter/Instagram: @Utherverse; Facebook: /UtherverseDigital; LinkedIn: /utherverse-digital-inc/; Telegram: /UtherverseAnnouncements; Discord: /Utherverse.io.
Steve Honig
The Honig Company, LLC
818-986-4300
press@honigllc.com
Steve Honig
The Honig Company, LLC
818-986-4300
press@honigllc.com

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Meta is desperately trying to make the metaverse happen – MIT Technology Review

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Will web access and avatar legs be enough?
The star of Tuesday’s Meta Connect, the so-called “state of the union” for the company formerly known as Facebook, was Meta Quest Pro. Meta’s newest virtual-reality headset clocks in at a whopping $1,499.99. That’s a significant price jump from its previous iteration, Meta Quest 2, which could be yours for $399.99—not exactly cheap, but still in triple-digit territory.
That price hike, coupled with Meta’s insistence throughout the virtual event that the company envisioned the metaverse as a “next-generation social platform” accessible to everyone, sort of feels like a blatant contradiction. Even if you are among the lucky few who can shell out a grand and a half for a virtual-reality headset, would you really want to?
That’s the question Meta seems to be grappling with. While the headset price jumped, nearly all the company’s other big moves are aimed at a common and simple baseline: making the metaverse something people actually want to use. 
Meta’s metaverse hasn’t exactly had a smooth year. Less than a year ago, founder Mark Zuckerberg rebranded what was then Facebook in an effort to show that the company was pivoting to what he believed was the future of our digital lives. Since then, Meta has been saddled with hiccups and gaffes, including a much-ballyhooed avatar of Zuckerberg that got memed to oblivion, a report suggesting that the company’s employees were less than enthused about the metaverse, and allegations of virtual sexual assault.
A woman was sexually harassed on Meta’s VR social media platform. She’s not the first—and won’t be the last.
So its current strategy seems to be to release a string of updates to see what might get people interested—a “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach, if you will. 
Besides the Meta Quest Pro, the company also announced at the event that it was going to open up Horizon Worlds, the social media platform within Meta’s metaverse, to mobile and desktop users, so people without a headset will be able to access the virtual world.
That’s a notable step: it’s a tacit admission that VR headsets aren’t taking off as quickly as the company would like. Without a critical mass of people who understand what the metaverse feels like or even is, Meta can’t hope to have its products adopted. Opening its virtual worlds to the formats consumers are comfortable with (their text messages, their browsers, the company’s beleaguered Instagram platform) gives people who aren’t open to shelling out $399.99—much less $1,499.99—a way to experience the new world.
What’s also made the metaverse a hard sell is the disorienting experience of being a floating, legless torso, and Meta announced that it won’t be that way anymore. Previously, Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s CTO, said in an Instagram AMA that full-body avatars were difficult to implement, particularly because VR tracking usually comes from someone’s real-life eyes and hands. “Tracking your own legs accurately is super hard and basically not workable just from a physics standpoint with existing headsets,” he said in February.
But Zuckerberg (or, rather, his leggy avatar) announced at the event that the company was going to use artificial intelligence to map out legs in the metaverse, allowing avatars the ability not only to walk and run but also to wear digital clothing for their legs (a marketplace that Zuckerberg has said he is eager to participate in; Roblox, a gaming platform I’ve written about before, currently has a comfortable share of the market). This would be a huge step to improving how users think about movement in the metaverse and how they decide to represent themselves there.
But even with legs, and even with the ability to roam the metaverse without a headset strapped to your face, the key question remains: Is Meta’s metaverse something people will actually buy into? It’s worth noting that even employees at Meta are skeptical about the company’s vision, with one going so far as to say the amount spent on these projects to date made him “sick to [his] stomach.”
A free, shareable version of the metaverse accessible via weblink will open the previously closed world up to people who may not have hundreds of dollars to burn, and it’s a huge move toward democratizing the space. It might lead people to buy Meta’s claim that talking to a cartoon version of your boss is totally cool—and, more broadly, that the metaverse really is the next digital plane on which we’ll conduct our lives. 
But it might also do the opposite: people might hop on the link and find that even in its now full-bodied state, the metaverse, er, doesn’t have legs.
An avatar of the singer, who died in 1997, performed with live rappers on Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
In his own words, the Chinese painter shares how he became a one-person newsroom during a week of intense protests against China's zero-covid policy.
Reflecting on my desire for Chinese-style e-commerce platforms.
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OREO Launches Its Own VR Metaverse Experience – VRScout

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The OREOVERSE is available now via Horzion Worlds.
This week OREO unveiled a new limited-edition flavor, the Most OREO OREO, which features real OREO grind mixed in the creme. In celebration of the new product, the company has created its own metaverse experience accessible on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets.
According to the company, the OREOVERSE features a variety of “cookie-themed” games that have you building delicious treats in VR for a chance at $50,000. As part of the campaign, TV personality Martha Stewart and her gardener Ryan McCallister will stream themselves exploring the OREOVERSE next week on the OREO brand’s social channels.
“We’re so excited to enter the metaverse! OREO is the cookie that begs to be played with and we love to create new opportunities for our fans to connect with each other and share that playful spirit,” said Julia Rosenbloom, Senior Brand Manager, OREO, in an official release. “The Most OREO OREO cookie gives fans a whole new way to playfully engage with us. By scanning the pack, they will ‘dunk into’ the new OREOVERSE world.”
“I am excited to make my metaverse debut in partnership with one of my favorite cookie brands, OREO, and having Ryan there with me will make it all the more fun,” added Martha Stewart. “The two of us have had our fair share of adventures over the last 10 years and have been able to navigate just about anything together, especially in the garden!”
The OREOVERSE is accessible now on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets via Horizon Worlds, Meta’s own social VR metaverse. Marth Stewart’s OREOVERSE excursion will begin on Monday, January 30th at 10:00 am ET on Facebook and Instagram. For more information visit here.
Image Credit: OREO
Kyle is a writer for VRScout also working in new media production. He’s also a part-time bounty hunter.
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