Meta Messaging Conflates AR/VR and Metaverse
By Betsy Burton
I recently saw a Metaverse advertisement on television that suggested that Metaverse and AR/ VR are equivalent. This is just marketing. Consumers and businesses interested in AR/VR technologies and/or Metaverse need to understand how they are different and what each technology has to offer.
Equating Metaverse with AR and VR technology may help Meta/Facebook marketing but if you are not aware of the difference you may end up entering a universe that does not meet your needs and purchasing technologies that you don’t need.
What Is A Metaverse?
A Metaverse is a type of digital immersive environment; a software application/service that supports a collection of virtual shared spaces that are specifically designed to deliver an immersive world where users primarily interact through an avatar.
A digital immersive environment is not new, they have existed for years in the form of Second Life, as well as a number of major gaming services, including Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, and Roblox.
The Meta claim is that in the Metaverse, students will be able to visit and talk with ancient Romans, doctors will be able to practice surgeries before performing one, and students and teachers will be able to interact with virtual atoms–splitting them and passing them back and forth.
The problem is that this is not Metaverse–it is augmented reality and virtual reality. Metaverse can be developed to support these types of applications. But there is nothing native about Metaverse that makes these types of solutions easier to support or richer to experience.
In fact, many consider the use of avatars to be a significant distraction to real academic, business, and industrial use. Who needs students flying around the room during a lecture dressed as a superhero? Who wants to hold a business meeting with blank-faced client avatars?
Virtual Reality technologies, such as Oculus Quest or HP Reverb, can be used to support a digital immersive environment by giving the user the perspective of being in the environment. It blocks out the physical world around the user, and all they see is what is presented in the digital immersive environment.
The use of augmented reality in a digital immersive environment allows the user to see their physical world and the virtual world at the same time.
Today, AR/VR can be leveraged to support all kinds of applications without Metaverse. For example, AR supply-chain applications, doctors practicing surgery, and students can already interact with 3D models of chemical compounds.
Don’t Get Duped By the Metaverse Conflation Hype
Metaverse is an application that can be enhanced by the use of AR/VR technologies. Metaverse will not support these use cases (doctors performing surgeries, filling warehouse pick lists, etc.) unless these capabilities are added and supported in Metaverse.
AR/VR technologies are not equal to Metaverse; Metaverse is not equal to AR/VR.
Meta is presenting a fantastical world in its Metaverse advertising. Meta is positioning Metaverse as the universe to support AR/VR technologies. The reality is these applications are not natively supported. It will require enhancements and services to support specific use cases and industry applications.
AR/VR is also not limited to Metaverse. There are applications today that can leverage AR/VR technologies to support specific use cases for highly immersive experiences. Metaverse may over time evolve to support these use cases, but it will take time, and there are solutions available today.
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