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TECHNICAL – Amid the turmoil following a global outage and embarrassing revelations from a former employee, Facebook wanted to communicate its plans for the future rather than current issues.
The social network announced on Monday, October 18, that it would hire 10,000 people in the EU to work on the development of the “metaverse”: a kind of parallel digital world that has become the new grail of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and boss. of the giant American social media.
If you haven’t been following this futuristic digital reality project with Facebook sauce, HuffPost gives you an overview of what you need to know.
What is the “metaverse”?
If you saw the movie Ready player First, you already have a good idea of what it’s about. The “Metaverses” correspond to‘OASIS from Steven Spielberg’s film: a kind of understudy of the physical world, accessible through the Internet and connected interfaces, and where we should be able to exist in the form of avatars.
The term “metaverse” or “meta-universe” literally means “beyond the universe”. This rapid expansion of the Internet is made possible by the convergence of different technologies, so that an individual can experience a world in virtual reality, engage his body, experience emotions and sensations.
“Increasingly, screens, holograms, VR headsets and augmented reality glasses will allow fluid movements of virtual universes in physical locations, such as teleportations“explained Mark Zuckerberg on his Facebook profile.
What are the promises of the “metaverse”?
The “metaverse” imagines Facebook as a kind of “embodied internet”, where one becomes an actor of experiences and actions in a virtual universe, rather than just being an observer or consumer of content. “The essential quality of the metaverse will be presence – the feeling of really being there with people”, wrote Mark Zuckerberg in July on his Facebook profile.
In this virtual and immersive universe that Facebook intends to build, it could be possible, for example, to dance in a nightclub with people located thousands of kilometers away, at work, to buy or sell digital goods or services. Clearly, the goal is to have a much more immersive and comprehensive digital social life – compared to what everyone currently does behind their computer screen or on their smartphone. A kind of Second Lifebut experienced through connected glasses.
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Where is it from?
The term “metaverse” originally comes from a dystopian novel from the 90s. However, the book “The Virtual Samurai”, written by Neal Stephenson at the dawn of the Internet, had a different definition than the current meaning. It featured “metaverse” users whose minds are trapped in a computer virus that directly infects their brains.
If the aim of the dystopian novel is to prevent, even to frighten, the future deviations of our society, large digital companies have invested titanic sums in projects and technologies specific to building “metaverses”, such as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality ( YEAR).
The world reported that according to the firm IDC, “spending in this sector is expected to increase sixfold between 2020 and 2024, from $12 billion to $72 billion”.
Why is Facebook interested in it?
Meta-universes are seen by web and video game giants as the next great technological leap in the evolution of the internet. And this is where Facebook positions itself, by wanting to invent new forms of social interaction and experience within a “metaverse”, which it builds from A and Z by defining its own settings.
Which makes sense for a company that was built by specializing in connecting Internet users, through its basic social network (Facebook), but also various applications acquired over the years, such as WhatsApp or Instagram.
“To achieve our vision of metaversewe need to build the connective tissue between (the different) digital spaces, to overcome the physical limitations and to be able to move between them with the same ease as between the rooms in his house”, Mark Zuckerberg had detailed on his page. Facebook profile.
To achieve this, Facebook puts a lot of resources. The Californian company bought the Oculus company for two billion dollars in 2014. Since then, it has embarked on other projects related to the “metaverse”, where several billion dollars have also been invested.
Where are we today?
Concretely, it is already possible to live certain experiments that relate to the project “metaverse” of Facebook – but they are currently very limited. The Californian giant, for example, unveiled the Beta version of its Horizon Workroom application in August..
The goal is to create virtual reality meeting rooms via the virtual reality headset Oculus Quest 2. Participants appear around a round table as personal avatars, can interact via their microphone or draw on a virtual whiteboard thanks to remote controls.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg talks about collaboration in the Horizon Workroom in virtual reality while in VR insid… https://t.co/GJxJW22RiJ
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Facebook and the Ray-Ban brand launched a pair of connected glasses in September. This digital gadget allows you to take pictures and videos and connect to the social network.
However, “Ray-Ban Stories” does not have an augmented reality system. But Facebook hopes to start introducing a growing number of people to this kind of connected accessory (whereas Google and Snapchat, before that, have rather failed on the subject).
Who else is interested in it?
For its part, the video game sector has already created embryos of “metaverses”. This is, for example, the case Fortnitewhich gathers 350 million players mainly aged 14 to 24 and who live, in the virtual platform, more and more online experiences that break away from the original concept of the Battle Royal game.
Virtual concerts with the American rapper Travis Scott or Ariana Grande, who appear in the form of avatars, have already taken place. In December 2019, the game had also organized an exclusive event on the occasion of the promotion of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Broadcast live, director JJ Abrams was present “in person” in the form of an avatar to reveal a preview of an excerpt from the film.
The social isolation associated with the covid pandemic has also been a catalyst for this phenomenon. An executive of Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite, had explained at the end of March to AFP, to “in a time like now, when it’s harder to get together physically, it’s incredibly important to have these virtual experiences, ‘really thinking’Fortnite as a platform for connected social experiences and not just as a game”.
Roblox, an online game creation system where the majority of content is created by the players themselves, also hosted a concert by American rapper Lil Nas X in November 2020.
“My first concert was in a stadium. My son’s first concert was Lil Nas X at Roblox. Just because it happened in Roblox doesn’t make it any less real,” Cathy Hackl, a tech consultant who advises companies on the “metaverse.”
Also look atr The HuffPost: On Fortnite, Ariana Grande’s long-awaited concert delighted fans and players