In recent months, there has been a growing excitement for the “metaverse”. Microsoft was the first major technology company to signal the growing convergence between the virtual world and the physical world when its boss Satya Nadella suggested that simulated environments and mixed reality were evolving into a completely new technology platform. Shortly afterwards, Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg devoted a significant portion of the company’s July earnings call to it, describing it as “one of the most exciting projects we’ll be working on in our lives.” Since then, there has been a lot of discussion as advertising writers, podcast hosts and Clubhouse venues have tried to get to the bottom of what the metaverse commotion is all about.
In short, the metaverse is the next stage in the evolution of the Internet that will allow us not only to access it, as we do now, but also to immerse ourselves in it, in a shared virtual experience where everyone is present simultaneously. It is the realization of virtual worlds as described in science fiction classics like Snow Crash and Ready Player One. But the metaverse is not just an immersive world that you can escape by putting on virtual reality headphones. When fully realized, it will be a whole new way of interacting with the world around us and could transform every aspect of our lives in the same way that the mobile Internet did.
Matthew Bell, who wrote the First in Metaverse, describes how much of the metaverse infrastructure, from hardware and network configuration to computing power, has come together over the past decade. As a result, the shared virtual environment that science fiction has promised us for so long could become a reality in our lives.
Games like Fortnite and Minecraft operate virtual gaming environments in which large groups of players simultaneously participate in multiplayer battles. Improvements in bandwidth and network latency that have made this possible will be critical to enabling metaverse. The hardware of our phones has improved so much that these devices are able to perform facial recognition accurately enough for our digital avatars to accurately mimic our real-time changing facial expressions. Improvements in on-board computing, driven by people the size of Tesla, whose vehicles use on-board artificial intelligence to detect obstacles and prevent collisions before drivers can, have allowed us to use hybrid solutions that dynamically optimize the computing power of the cloud and device to meet them. the enormous computational demands of the metaverse.
However, despite all this optimism, there is cause for concern. Unlike the Internet, which was built with patient capital, the metaverse will likely be created by large technology companies, leading to concerns about walled gardens and signage. That said, it is clear that if the metaverse wants to be as ubiquitous as the Internet, it must remain open so that everyone can participate. To achieve this, we must agree on a set of open standards that govern its essential aspects, ensuring interoperability between environments. Ultimately, we may need to pass regulation to ensure that other aspects of the metaverse, the devices we use to interact with it, the payment systems that drive its economy, and the portals that connect the virtual world to the physical, comply with the open protocols framed to make sure we are not connected to any device or service provider.
India needs to recognize that the metaverse is ready. We need to establish regulations that encourage the development of these new virtual environments, while ensuring that they can operate in an open and interoperable manner. If this is the next evolution of Internet technology, we should make sure that the many features it is likely to offer are deployed to our advantage.
One of the key features of the metaverse will be its ability to replicate the physical world within its virtual environment. The creation of these mirror worlds will require meganalysis of our physical environment: huge centimeter-resolution images of the physical world that we can represent within the metaverse to faithfully recreate our physical surroundings in a virtual space. As part of India’s map reforms last year, domestic companies were given the exclusive right to map terrain at resolutions less than a meter, which gave them a significant advantage in creating mega-explorations. of the Indian land mass. As companies seek to acquire megascan databases in order to create mirror worlds, this regulation is likely to offer Indian companies a significant strategic advantage.
Another element of the metavers that is still being worked out is its pay lanes. Although cryptocurrencies are widely used as the ideal payment system for metaverse, they are unlikely to be able to operate at the rate at which transactions are likely to occur in these virtual environments. India’s digital payment platforms, on the other hand, have proven that they can operate on a population scale, processing 10 billion transactions a month without worrying. Why shouldn’t this be our metaverse payment framework?
India adopted the Internet relatively late and as a result was unable to take advantage of its many functions until much later. We now have an extraordinary opportunity to actively participate in the development of the metaverse. We would do well to immerse ourselves well.
Rahul Matthan is a partner of Trilegal and also has a podcast called Ex Machina. His Twitter manager is @matthan
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