Mastercard Foundry executive vice president for research and development, Dave Fleming recently gave some insight into their efforts to create a metaverse and what it could take for similar future projects to be widely adopted.
When discussing the metaverse it can be easy to fall into thinking of it as one single entity, however when we look at projects that already exist and what the future could hold, it would seem more realistic that we are witnessing the development of multiple metaverse projects, each with their own take(s) on how they might change the way we socialise, shop, learn and create.
Speaking on the technologies that are needed to build a metaverse and the advancement of this technology in the future, Fleming commented that “Today’s metaverse offerings, such as Sandbox, Horizon Worlds and Fortnite, primarily use a combination of technologies with some additions and variations. They are created with a combination of 3D environments – in some cases AR or VR technology, low-cost VR headsets, blockchain, NFTs, and AI – using cloud computing and today’s always-on networks”. Fleming goes on to say that visions for future metaverse projects would require significant development regarding technology such as AR glasses which must become more desirable and cost-effective in order to gain mainstream appeal.
Fleming thinks that such changes “will be a tipping for adoption” and adds that bodysuits, halo-screens, and omnidirectional treadmills along with various other pieces of tech and accessories will also need to advance in order to improve the prospective landscape of the metaverse.
Fleming then spoke on some of the hurdles that need to be overcome saying that “One of the main obstacles impeding the mass adoption of metaverse devices is the processing power and energy consumption required to render high-definition graphics and run spatial computing applications”. Fleming notes that this is something the industry will be able to overcome as CPU and GPU chipsets continue to achieve higher performance specifications.
In addition to this, network and low-latency communication to the cloud is something that Fleming foresees will play a vital role in ensuring “a flawless and lossless experience”. AI is noted as another area that will play a significant role as “AI will help us navigate with voice recognition and natural language processing”, says Fleming who then adds that AI will help in understanding our surroundings by using advanced computer vision models.
What do developers need to know?
Discussing the human element and what challenges developers could face when building a new iteration of the Metaverse, Fleming comments that much of the skill set “engineers” have will be transferable when creating a metaverse project. Some of the new technologies they may need to learn according to Fleming is mastering tools such as Unity and Unreal Engine – two of the biggest platforms for game creation.
From an architectural standpoint, Fleming comments that “engineers will need to become familiar with new building blocks including the devices themselves, world-generating engines, customization engines that allow application developers to create new experiences, and asset creation tools to create virtual land, buildings, vehicles, apparel, and avatars, among other things”. On top of this, Fleming believes that there will also be a need for developers to become familiar with cloud storage and blockchains as many metaverse spaces will use these technologies to support payments and enable the support of NFTs used to carry items or value from one metaverse to another.
Regarding the difference between centralised and decentralised metaverses, Fleming remarks that choices will vary. Centralised metaverse platforms will use “some open choices like Unreal Engine, as Fortnite does, while Oculus is supported by both Unreal and Unity”. The decentralised approach, however may utilise blockchain and IPFS – a distribution system that enables peer-to-peer file sharing.
Fleming points out that this is where Web3 and metaverse intersect stating that “The terms “metaverse” and “Web3” are often used interchangeably, but although they are related, they are different concepts. Metaverse can be thought of as the new experience layer of the internet, while Web3 provides decentralised technology and protocols used to build the back end of the metaverse and enable new ecosystems, communities, and economies to develop”.