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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Metaverse Standards Forum Established

Will this be sufficient?

The Metaverse Needs Standards, Too The big players have founded a “forum”—but will it make the place come to life any sooner?   By Michael Koziol 

When Meta (formerly Facebook) announced in October 2021 that it would be developing metaverse technologies, it prompted a flurry of speculation and attendant announcements from other companies. Beyond that, it triggered an avalanche of confusion around what exactly the metaverse is supposed to be.

Nearly a year later, the concrete details of the metaverse are as opaque as ever. The Metaverse Standards Forum, which launched on 21 June 2022, isn’t trying to wrangle those details—not directly. But the forum sees an opportunity to get everyone to sit down at the same (probably virtual) table and hash out the basic technologies needed. With a more solid foundation, the forum believes, the metaverse can better develop and evolve.

Now, the forum has announced that after two months of hashing priorities, it has a list of initial priority topics that will steer metaverse standards development in its domain working groups. The topics include both straightforward technical problems like augmented and virtual reality standards, as well as concerns around privacy, ethics, and user safety.

“I like the theory that there’s only one metaverse, and you go between different experiences within the metaverse. Because we need an analogy to the Web.”

—Neil Trevett, Metaverse Standards Forum

To be clear: The metaverse does not exist yet, and probably won’t for some years to come. But there’s enough industry interest in beginning the process toward building it—whatever it may ultimately be. So Neil Trevett, the chair of the Metaverse Standards Forum, says now is the time to start standardizing. “I think what we’re seeing, much to everyone’s surprise—including our own—is the level of interest in standards for the metaverse. I think there is a thirst, or hunger, for them.”

The Metaverse Standards Forum is being organized by the Khronos Group, a software consortium developing royalty-free standards around technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and vision processing. The forum began with just 35 founding members, but its roster has in two months already ballooned to 1,500.

Standardizing the Standards

The MSF isn’t a standards body, Trevett says, so much as it’s a liaison to improve coordination and trust between the big commercial metaverse interests to date—including Google, Meta, Microsoft, and others using the technologies required for the creation, care, and maintenance of virtual worlds—as well as the standards organizations that will define those technologies. ... '

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