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Why The Metaverse Is A Work In Progress

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The Metaverse, however it is defined, will require the talents and vision of countless   developers.(Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
I spent most of my week at the AWE (Augmented World Expo) conference in Santa Clara, CA trying to get more updated information on the subject of VR, XR, and AR. AWE has emerged as one of the premier shows on XR and after it was only a virtual event last year, over 3000 people came to Santa Clara from many parts of the world to talk about the topic and learn what was new in terms of the current and future state of XR.
Besides being a significant industry event on VR, XR and AR, it was also the largest in-person event held in Silicon Valley since the Covid lockdown began in March of 2020. The leadership of AWE did a great job of handling the Covid related health requirements and protocols. Before an attendee could even enter the Santa Clara Convention Center, one would have to go to a health check-in desk and present proof of vaccination card before they could enter into the registration area. They were then given a blue wrist band that signified their vax card was checked and were now free to roam the event. Also, everyone had to wear a mask since this rule is still enforced in this part of California. Surprisingly, I heard no complaints about the vaccine demand and saw no resistance to wearing masks. This is important for other in-person event coordinators who want to have in-person events in the Covid era.
The success of how the AWE show organizers kept people safe is a real model that others should follow. For me, it proved I could attend a trade show safely if they had these health protocols in place. While I had been resisting going to CES at first due to health concerns, I am now planning to attend the show in January since they are using the same health security measures for all attendees.
Since AWE took place two weeks after Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse reveal, this was a major topic at the show.
I have been going to AWE for about 10 years and from the beginning, this show has had more of an AR perspective on the future of immersive technology. Many of the opening keynotes who had panelists asked how each one might describe their view of the Metaverse. Their answers were revealing since all had different takes on the subject. There was not a lot of consistency in their various definitions except in one major area.
Almost all said that they had trouble buying into Mark Zuckerberg’s VR vision in which one is enclosed in a VR headset and VR world. They agree with him that creating a 3D immersive Metaverse is on the right path but they tend to lean towards a Metaverse that uses mixed reality or XR headsets instead of the way most VR headsets today block out the real world from the virtual world.
Indeed, since this conference has a great focus on AR given its name and history, a lot of the conference content and exhibits were more AR-related and less focused on VR. The show also had a strong emphasis on providing sessions and special content for developers. I went to a couple of developer sessions and it became clear to me that from a platform standpoint, the trend going forward is to create around platforms that are open instead of closed. I asked some developers if they plan to support Meta’s VR platform and most pointed out that given that Facebook/Meta will spend $10 billion to create their version of the Metaverse, most were willing to take money from Facebook to support it.
On the other hand, most developers want to work on platforms that are open and work across devices.
The one big announcement the got their attention came from 8th Wall, which used their main stage session to launch its Reality Engine, which enables web-based augmented reality (WebAR) experiences to immediately work across most devices, including iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, computers and AR and VR headsets.
This new development platform is important for another reason; It acknowledges that XR and AR can be used beyond headsets. AR apps today run on smartphones and tablets and WebXR, will bring XR and AR apps to personal computers, too. Bringing AR apps to all types of devices will drive AR into the mainstream faster. However, they and others in leadership in the field of XR and AR agree that the most immersive experiences will be best when used on some form of XR or AR goggles or glasses in the future. This concept of write-once-deploy everywhere was a huge hit with developers and their booth was mobbed by people wanting to learn more about this new software development platform.
While the show had a lot of focus on the Metaverse, it became pretty clear to me that this idea and concept is a work in progress. It will take a collective effort of many companies and thousands of engineers over time, to craft the kinds of virtual worlds that will drive what may be many different metaverses in the future.
As I spoke with many speakers and attendees at the show to get their definition of the metaverse, there was one answer that I got from a person I had lunch with one day. He said that he believes that the, “…metaverse will be the place where you store your digital self.” I agree and that may be one of the definitions to describe the metaverse that has staying power.

I have been recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. I have been

I have been recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. I have been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and have served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Hewlett Packard/Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Sony, Panasonic, Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, nVidia, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others. My articles and/or analysis have appeared in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines, BusinessWeek and most of the leading business and trade publications. I have appeared as a business analyst commenting on the tech industry on all of the major television networks and was a frequent guest on PBS’ The Computer Chronicles. I have been a columnist for US computer industry publications such as PC Week and Computer Reseller News and wrote for ABCNEWS.COM for two years and Mobile Computing for 10 years. I was also a tech columnist for Time Magazine’s Tech section for 5 years. My columns currently appear in Fast Company, Recode, PC Magazine, Forbes and the online publication: www.techpinions.com. My columns and analyses are syndicated in over 55 countries. Further History I am known as a concise, futuristic analyst, credited with predicting the desktop publishing revolution three years before it hit the market, and identifying multimedia as a major trend in written reports as early as 1986. My writing and analysis have been at the forefront of the digital revolution and I am considered one of the leading experts in the field of technology adoption cycles. I have also spoken at many business school programs about marketing to consumers. I have authored major industry studies on PC, portable computing, pen-based computing, desktop publishing, multimedia computing and the digital home. Currently, I serve on multiple conference advisory boards and am a frequent featured speaker at computer conferences worldwide. I also serve on technology advisory councils for IBM/Lenovo, Dell, and on specialty councils for three large semiconductor companies.

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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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