For Metaverse to grow, mobile digital identities are needed

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What exactly is the metaverse? Is it a completely immersive, parallel, digital 3D world we live, play and work in? Or is it a series of interconnected virtual experiences that we navigate seamlessly through our avatars and portable digital accessories? The exact nature of the metaverse is still not entirely clear, nor is it to what extent it already exists today.

Although there is still no exact definition of the metaverse, there is no denying the presence it will increasingly have in all aspects of life. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2026, “25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse of work, shopping, education, social media and / or entertainment.

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I believe that the metaverse is not only a destination we reach through technological devices, but rather a digital identity we carry through platforms and experiences. It seems that no matter how we define this concept, the role of digital identity remains a constant in all visions of the metaverse. This digital identity will include how we present ourselves visually and audibly. It will include the digital assets we own and the digital spaces in which we operate.

For Metaverse to succeed in the end, I believe that three primary technological possibilities must be present:

  • Customization of user identity or identities.
  • The ability to transport identities across multiple platforms.
  • Access from the user’s mobile device.

Across identity, across platforms

Today, our online personas are usually associated with email addresses, user IDs, and profile pictures, and we often use the same username across different platforms, even when logging in with an email account. Fast forward to the future: Our digital avatars now function as our online identities, with users spending more time in the meta-verse for business and entertainment. It is natural that users want to own their personal data and the identities they adapt to the metaverse, which will vary depending on their activity. Their persona in their metaverse workplace, for example, is likely to be different from their identity in a metaverse nightclub, just as it would be different in real life.

Users can select a visual avatar for one system, an audio identity for another, and an animation for a third by using these custom avatars to connect their real and virtual worlds. As venture capitalist Rex Woodberry noted, “In Web3, identity becomes portable and composable … The important thing is that the various elements of your identity merge into one digital location, owned and controlled by you.”

For the meta-verse to really take off, there must be a strategy where individuals can access and create meaningful connections to their digital identities across all devices every day. Developers are working to expand the current augmented and virtual reality experiences by enhancing the Motif VR headset to make it easier, more connected and affordable.

Companies that want to attract more users will need to enable them to transfer their digital identity across the meta-verse, regardless of entry point or platform – for example, by implementing the studio-tech-like standard virtual universal (VST) for audio avatars.

What does this mean for the short- and long-term vision of Metaverse? Our digital identities must be easily accessible in all facets of our lives. A digital identity that can only be accessed through a VR headset or desktop computer will only be relevant for the hours we spend with such devices. In other words, the meta-verse must exist on the go, just like us.

Smartphones: the gateway to the meta-verse

The metaverset must also be accessible to the widest possible audience from the most popular and easy-to-adopt device. Today, that device is the smartphone. The majority of internet activity currently takes place via mobile phones. In many countries, including the United States, they opt for a smartphone if people can only afford one Internet connection device. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that smartphone users worldwide could reach 4.5 billion by the end of 2024.

Just as laptops did not disappear with the advent of the smartphone, browser-based social metaverse experiences will continue, even as AR glasses and headsets become commonplace. While it will take some time for the hardware to catch up with the software, it is an important step in reaching most potential citizens in the meta-verse that is in the gaming world.

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the pending acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard in January, he reinforced the company’s gaming footprint and its ability to deliver mobile experiences, explaining that gaming “will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms”.

With an estimated three billion players worldwide by 2021, smartphones are the key to driving mobile gaming, which in turn will drive the metaverse.

Although technology has not yet caught up with the vision of the meta-verse, companies are making progress. NewZoo’s Introduction to Metaverse the report states that “we are jointly racing towards greater participation in interconnected simulated environments that are even more boundless than our own”.

The companies that succeed in this area will be the ones that appeal to the widest audience through an immersive, inclusive and mobile experience. They will help create a widely accessible metaverse that allows users to personalize their digital identities, which they can then transport into interconnected virtual worlds, wherever and whenever they are.

Jaime Bosch is the co-founder and CEO of Voicemod.

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