Meta working to speed up metaverse, but success far from certain

“The metaverse is going to sneak up on us,” predicted Meta Reality Labs vice president Mark Rabkin.

“I think it’s going to feel really far away and then there’ll be certain pockets and niches that are suddenly really useful – and then we’ll realise that the gaps… are getting smaller, and suddenly it’s here.”

For Rabkin, executives can save time and money by meeting in the metaverse, and artists can embrace virtual venues for concerts, comedy shows and other entertainment. Bridges, skyscrapers, footwear and more could be designed in 3D using digital tools in the metaverse.

“We’re building things that power the metaverse and will be part of the metaverse,” said Rabkin.

“We are investing heavily to pull the future forward a little bit.”

TECH ADVANCES TO IMPROVE USERS’ “PERCEPTION”

A year ago, Facebook renamed itself Meta to signal its devotion to a metaverse future.

In a small step on that path, the US$1,500 Quest Pro headset – aimed at architects, engineers and designers, among others – boasts new features that are meant to improve users’ perception of actually being in the presence of others.

“The moment that they begin to break into a smile or when they raise their eyebrow… your avatar should be able to express all of that and more,” Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg said at Meta Connect.

The company said it is partnering with Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture and others to sync up popular work software with virtual worlds using Quest Pro.

“At Microsoft, we’re incredibly excited about the metaverse and how digital and physical worlds are coming together,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during the presentation.

Microsoft is “really leaning in” to make its widely-used productivity software, as well as tools built for its own HoloLens augmented reality headset, compatible with Quest Pro, according to Rabkin.

Zuckerberg stressed that Meta wants its VR platform to dovetail with offerings from other companies.

“Not only will our stuff run on a variety of devices, including not our own, but there will inevitably be multiple universes joined together in a variety of ways,” explained Rabkin.

Technical advances built into Quest Pro are expected to eventually be incorporated into lower-priced headsets destined for average consumers.

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