Meta and Microsoft join forces to create Metaverse standards; Apple, Google sit out


 Meta and Microsoft join forces to create Metaverse standards;  Apple, Google sit out

Young man or teenager in a white t-shirt wearing a virtual reality headset during VR experience in neon fluorescent, ultraviolet, violet and blue colors.

Parties interested in turning Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite catchphrase into reality announced Wednesday that they have formed the Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta is a founding member, of course, and big tech names like Adobe, Microsoft, and Nvidia are also founding members. However, the initial membership is particularly lacking in the involvement of Apple and Google.

According to today’s announcement, the forum is intended to “encourage the development of open standards for the Metaverse.”

“The forum will examine where the lack of interoperability impedes metaverse deployment and how to coordinate and expedite the work of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) that define and develop needed standards,” the group said in its announcement.

Other founding members include Adobe, Epic Games, Ikea, Qualcomm, Sony, the XR Association, and SDOs The Khronos Group, World Wide Web Consortium, and Open Geospatial Consortium.

Apple, which is expected to release an AR headset by 2023, is not participating. Neither does Alphabet, which owns Google. Both parties have already joined open industry groups, including Matter and FIDO, but neither has promoted the term “metaverse.”

Aside from its unannounced (but much-discussed) AR headset rumored to be in development, CEO Tim Cook said Apple’s role in the Metaverse market was “a big question” in Apple’s January 2022 first-quarter earnings call.

“We’re always researching new and emerging technologies… Right now we have over 14,000 AR kit apps on the App Store that are providing incredible AR experiences for millions of people today,” Cook said when asked about Apple’s Metaverse plans for one Seeking Alpha Transcript. “We see a lot of potential in this area and are investing accordingly.”

Alphabet’s Google, meanwhile, has been paired with its own new AR headset. And AR is a touted feature of various Google products, from Pixel phones to software.

Google joined the VR standards initiative in 2016, as noted by TechCrunch, along with Facebook’s then-branded Oculus VR. The initiative was led by The Kronos Group, a non-profit organization focused on emerging technologies that also hosts the Metaverse Standards Forum.

The new group offers free, open membership, allowing both companies to join the Metaverse forum later. But with many questions surrounding the metaverse — what it means and how it will be monetized and moderated — we’re not surprised that some big names in tech are unwilling to sign up. In addition, Meta is careful to use a term that is synonymous with its own brand.

These organizations will miss out on “pragmatic, action-based projects” such as “implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tools to accelerate testing and adoption of metaverse standards,” according to the forum’s announcement. The group also said it will work to develop “consistent terminology and deployment guidelines.”

The group’s focus will vary by membership, but potential topics include “3D assets and rendering, human interfaces and interaction paradigms such as AR and VR, user-created content, avatars, identity management, privacy and financial transactions.”

The Metaverse Standards Forum also highlighted potential areas of collaborative spatial computing, including of course AR and VR, but also “photorealistic content authoring, spatial data systems, end-user content tools, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physical simulation, online economies,” and more.

The forum is expected to hold its first meeting in July.

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