Despite the hype, when it comes to the metaverse — some say it's the evolution of the internet — there really is no there there.
MIT artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky coined the term “suitcase words” — words or terms that mean nothing by themselves but hold several ideas inside that you must unpack — said Paul McDonagh-Smith, senior lecturer in information technology at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“I think this is a good way to visualize the metaverse — as a suitcase with a number of different technologies, principles and potentials packed inside,” McDonagh-Smith said.
The metaverse resides within the family of extended reality technologies that includes augmented, mixed and virtual reality, as well as virtual worlds, telepresence, 360 video, filters, digital twins and more, according to McDonagh-Smith. In terms of key principles, the metaverse is shaped by concepts including immersion, engagement, persistence and personalization.
However, the true metaverse doesn’t yet exist. That’s because it requires progress in areas like interoperability, standards and protocols to allow its networks of 3D virtual experiences to interconnect to enable virtual experiences. Through these experiences, users can interact, work, learn, play, respond, react and reflect via personalized avatars that represent their identities as they wish to depict them, McDonagh-Smith said.
While the tools and technology out there today enable people to create their own mini-metaverses, they are not connected to other ones, said Kelly Malone, chief business officer at Taqtile, a provider of an augmented reality and mixed reality work-instruction platform.
“Where I believe that this ultimately becomes a true metaverse is when these things get interconnected,” he said. “You have a company over here building their own digital twins with their processes and procedures, but they just have their own mini-metaverse. Where it becomes a true metaverse is when you begin to connect all these things together so you can access that data and that capability in a more open and broad way. That’s the piece that’s really missing.”