This Week in the Metaverse (W38.2022)
Welcome to Letters - commentary, analysis and ideas from Into The Metaverse.
Here are the 5 items that captured my attention This Week in the Metaverse.
Privacy, safety and rights in the metaverse
NVIDIA launches the Omniverse Cloud
Building an open metaverse - more from Neil Stephenson & Lamina1
Epic Games steps up its infrastructure ambition with investment in Hadean
Virtual fashion is only getting started
Let’s dig in!
(1) Privacy, safety and rights in the metaverse
One of the key issues that still receives little attention with the emerging metaverse is the aspect of trust and safety. The immersive nature of 3D virtual worlds and al encompassing nature of certain form factors like virtual reality headsets will pose new type of challenges when it comes to what data is being collected. Although making claims specifically as it relates to implications of data collection from using virtual reality headsets, worth reading this piece form Fast Company. Read the story here.
Scientist and augmented reality entrepreneur, Louis Rosenberg, believes that the shift in human behavior caused by the emerging metaverse (in which according to McKinsey consumers expect to spend more than four hours a day in the metaverse within the next five years) “is a dangerous inflection point in human history. The metaverse could be a creative medium that expands what it means to be human. Or it could become a deeply oppressive technology that gives corporations (and state actors) unprecedented control over society.”
In my mind the issue of privacy is much greater than what’s possible for data collection due to the use of certain devices. The reality is that we haven’t really figured out yet the principles and laws that can handle privacy and safety in the information age, and the emerging metaverse will pose new challenges. You can complement this important item with two Into The Metaverse podcast conversations -
(1) Episode 21 with Tami Bhaumik, VP Civility and Partnerships at Roblox -
(2) Episode 20 with Michael Auerbach from Subversive Capital (behind the PUNK ETF that shorts Meta Platforms) -
(2) NVIDIA launches the Omniverse Cloud
NVIDIA, a full-stack computing company that powers the acceleration of multiple industries, celebrated its annual event - GTC, during which the company announced the release of Omniverse Cloud — a suite of cloud services for artists, developers and enterprise teams to design, publish and operate metaverse applications. The company stated that more than 700 companies and 200,000 people are now using its Omniverse technology. The Omniverse Cloud is based on the open Universal Scene Description (USD) standard for interoperable 3D assets (more about USD in a VentureBeat piece - Universal Scene Description: The HTML of the metaverse (link).
Jensen Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, said in a statement: “The metaverse, the 3D internet, connects virtual 3D worlds described in USD and viewed through a simulation engine… With Omniverse in the cloud, we can connect teams worldwide to design, build and operate virtual worlds and digital twins.” Read more about the announcement in this VentureBeat piece.
NVIDIA is an era-defining company and is playing an instrumental role in helping to shape the next era of the Internet, both for consumers and for enterprises. Which is why I was so delighted to host Rev Lebaredian, VP of Omniverse & Simulation Technology, for a conversation on Into The Metaverse during which we also announced the released of Omniverse Cloud and select partnerships by NVIDIA, among them Lowe’s and Deutsche Bahn. Listen to the fantastic conversation I had with Rev on episode 22 -
(3) Building an open metaverse - more from Neil Stephenson & Lamina1
In last week’s TWiM Latter I wrote about Neil Stephenson’s continued journey in not only naming the “metaverse” but also building an open one with his new company, Lamina1. As reported by VentureBeat, “the company said its mission is to deliver a Layer 1 blockchain, interoperating tools and decentralized services optimized for the open metaverse –– providing communities with infrastructure, not gatekeepers to build a more immersive internet”. The company aims to make a dramatic change to the way in which the Internet operates with lessons learned from the web2 era and applying them to the creation of an open metaverse - “The strength of the Lamina1 technical foundation will be validated by the ability of our very own maker, Neal Stephenson, to deliver his inspired and principled vision of what the Open Metaverse can be. We employ story as a powerful tool to contextualize and drive the creative and technical development required to build a virtual universe imbued with humanity,” the white paper said.
Read the full story here. You can complement it with our podcast conversation (S2E11) with Stephenson and his co-founder in founding Lamina1, Peter Vessenes -
(4) Epic Games steps up its infrastructure ambition with investment in Hadean, a distributed computing company
As reported by TechCrunch, Hadean, a U.K.-based distributed, spatial computing startup that’s setting out to build the infrastructure for the emerging metaverse, has closed a $30 million Series A round of funding from high-profile investors, including Epic Games and Tencent. With this investment, it seems that Epic Games aims to scale metaverse experiences and enable many more people to be part of virtual worlds in its ecosystem.
In the TechCrunch piece, Epic’s GM of Unreal Engine (and a former guest on Into The Metaverse), Marc Petit, said: “Hadean’s computing power will provide the infrastructure that’s needed as we work to create a scalable metaverse... The company’s technology complements Epic’s Unreal Engine by enabling massive amounts of concurrent users and unlocking new tools for creators and developers.”
You can complement this item with our podcast conversation (S2E6) with Marc Whitten, Senior Vice President of Create at Unity, in which we cover in detail Unity’s ambition of bringing its’ real-time 3D capabilities everywhere.
(5) Virtual fashion is only getting started
A virtual Carolina Herrera gown sold this week for $5,000 on Roblox. As reported by Vogue, a yellow floral dress that Karlie Kloss wore to close the Spring/Summer 2023 fashion show was available immediately on Roblox and has since spiked in value, illustrating the value that designers and celebrities have among the Roblox community.
This week we also saw Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, bringing luxury shopping Into the Metaverse. As reported on AdWeek, the company’s upscale commerce marketplace, Tmall Luxury Pavilion, will host an augmented reality fashion show and distribute a Meta Pass that will grant shoppers access to deals from select designers’ brands, among other events and upgrades to the existing interactive shopping experience.
Last but not least, Vogue continues to show use cases of where virtual fashion is going and this time, for its second immersive, virtual experience, Vogue Business showcased seven three-dimensional digital fashion pieces in the metaverse. The experience included designer-narrated audio showers and a hologram interview with designer Gary James McQueen.
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