The metaverse is a fresh enough concept that it can mean different things to different people. For example, some people think of the metaverse as a space for digital twins, while others associate it with more immersive gaming. However, one thing is certain: big companies have already invested huge amounts of money to take their place in the metaverse (just check the links below).
To ensure that these investments pay off, several large organizations have signed up as: founding members of the Metaverse Standards Forum — a meeting place for companies and standards organizations that want to influence the core standards that will serve as the foundation for an open metaverse.
“We’re essentially creating a new interface to the Internet that feels more like the interface we have to the world we’ve always known around us,” Rev Lebaredian, Nvidia’s VP of Omniverse Engineering & Simulation Technology, told ZDNet. “A 3D world that resembles the world we live in.”
The forum, he said, “will essentially open” [the metaverse] make it more natural for more people to participate and do all kinds of things.”
The list of founding members includes several major tech companies, such as Meta, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Autodesk, Adobe, Alibaba, Epic Games, Huawei, Qualcomm, and Sony. It also includes retail giants IKEA and Wayfair. The forum currently includes organizations such as the Spatial Web Foundation, Web3D Consortium, Khronos Group, and World Wide Web Consortium.
What kind of norms are needed in the metavers? To answer that question, forum members look back to the fundamentals of the web.
“The early Internet, before the Web, had a very abstract and simple interface,” Lebaredian said. “It was just text. Back in the day, you had to dial into a modem and just type commands into a shell… It was limited to essentially computer scientists. When we introduced the web, we opened the web to a huge number of people, and now to billions of people, because they can interact with images, text and video in a more natural way.”
A major standard that opened up the web was HTML, the markup language that gave people the ability to add hyperlinked text and images to web pages. It took about 20 years to develop HTML5, enabling more video and feature-rich applications on the web. Developing mature norms for the metaverse could take just as long, Lebaredian said.
“So we have to start as soon as possible,” he said.
The forum is free for any organization to access. It focuses on pragmatic, action-based projects such as implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open source tooling to facilitate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards.
Lebaredian said the forum should ideally include companies from all industries, including manufacturing, AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) and healthcare. IKEA has already invested deeply in 3D technologies, Lebaredian said, showing how retailers will leverage the metaverse. For example, most of their catalog images are all digitally rendered.
“You can imagine that just about every major industry is taking advantage of this, just as they did the Internet,” Lebaredian said.