Metaverse: Are we headed for a human-machine interface revolution?

The gradual arrival of the Metaverse is causing as much trepidation as excitement. Among this stream of questions, the question regarding the type of interface they offer is very little mentioned among all those raised so far. This aspect is nevertheless significant, as it lays the future foundation for the relationship that man has with the machine.

From touch to immersion: learning from mistakes is coming back

In recent decades, the use of touch has become the majority and is widely recognized in the design of many digital tools. In the world of human-machine interfaces, touch is akin to natural learning, while the computer mouse is more like learning by mistake. Let’s face it, touch is like an extension of our body that accelerates the development of new abilities in our brain. All these interfaces, put end to end, manage to create a post-digital brain.

That said, the emergence of the concept of the metaverse has somewhat disrupted the trend observed so far in the use of interfaces. The designers of this technology are making a bold bet, namely to return to an interface that involves several tools, here among them the VR headset. By appealing to a large portion of the senses, the interface of the metaverse creates unprecedented immersion, which in a sense restores learning by error. A development that raises questions because the technological trend is to reduce the number of units between man and machine, while to a large extent devoting natural learning. However, the interface offered by the metaverse represents a real step back, capable of excluding the least “digital” brains. And without forgetting the high costs and discomfort of this dedicated equipment, which automatically excludes a large part of the population.

A development that is not a revolution

Let’s be clear, from a technological standpoint, the metaverse is not a revolution. We see more of an overlap of existing technologies than a real break with what has been done so far. The expectations for its scope are huge, sometimes outsized, but this does not detract from the variety of uses that the concept of the metaverse allows. It is also in this aspect that it constitutes a major and decisive development for the future.

Its interface will appeal to a large number of senses, making it possible to vary the uses both in terms of entertainment and professionally. Immersion, the spearhead of this technology, will make it possible to train for specific subjects or tasks to save time and acquire the necessary skills more quickly. In this, the metaverse represents a major turning point, a symbol of a scene that will provide the most important orientations about the type of interface manufacturers want to develop and democratize in the coming years.

The emergence of immersion

This is one of the lessons of the arrival of metaverses on the market. The ambition to offer an immersive experience is a really open door to one or more technological leaps in interface design. If the VR headset is the next step, the tools will evolve to be less and less restrictive and more intuitive in their handling. By projecting ourselves a little, we can well imagine that the hologram occupies a more important place in the coming decades or see the direct neural interfaces, via the ingestion of a chemical substance for example, become more accepted in society, in the image of Elon Musk’s still very controversial Neuralink project. In addition to questions regarding future applications, it is now certain that immersive interfaces will be the standard of tomorrow. Our bond with the machine is becoming more and more visceral, and it is to wonder what will be the endpoint of this evolution. Perhaps we will witness an unprecedented development in human history, namely the emergence of a meta-brain with new abilities.

However, the fascination with news must be tempered by the few caveats and warnings that have been formulated against the concept of metaverse. Immersive interfaces, although promising, can also lead to abuse such as a form of addiction to this technology or societal isolation of the youngest. This behavior must also condition the uses to avoid irreversible consequences in the way our brain perceives this immersive aspect. Moreover, the democratization of these interfaces also raises real questions about the protection of privacy and intimacy, as well as the solidity of the legal framework related to this. So many aspects that must be taken into account in order not to transform a technology of the future into a source of societal problems.

Tribune written by David Begasse – Development Department – ​​SII Group

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