Before I share my thoughts, I would like to emphasize that I am by no means an opponent of XR technologies. On the contrary, my agency Design4real has been exclusively dedicated to the development and application of virtual and augmented reality for seven years. However, despite my professional roots in this field, I view the current debate about 'the metaverse' with a certain degree of skepticism, as it is often conducted without the necessary depth and reflection.
The metaverse faces several significant challenges that have hindered its widespread acceptance and success. One of the main problems is the lack of a coherent and standardized Definition of the metaverse. While various platforms and projects claim to represent the metaverse, there is no single, universally accepted definition, leading to confusion and fragmentation.
The figure who significantly shaped the hype surrounding the metaverse and originally sparked the discussion about it is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg. The term "metaverse" only became known to a wider public when Zuckerberg publicly announced that Facebook would focus heavily on developing the metaverse in the future and even change the name of the social media giant to Meta in the process.
Zuckerberg's vision of a social VR-focused metaverse is undoubtedly captivating and has the potential to fundamentally change the way we interact and communicate. However, for industry insiders, the idea of collaborating and conducting meetings in VR was by no means new. Long before Zuckerberg's announcement, applications such as VRChat and Engage VR already existed and had long since explored and implemented this aspect of virtual reality. Those who use these Social VR applications had already tested them himself, so he knew about their strengths and weaknesses.
Meta possibly produces the leading hardware in the field of VR. Nevertheless, the promise of being able to completely replace online meetings such as Zoom with VR seems somewhat optimistic, as the technology is still in its infancy.
There are people who quickly feel dizzy or nauseous when using VR applications. The reasons for this vary from person to person. People with certain visual impairments find three-dimensional vision through VR glasses uncomfortable, while others develop anxiety in the virtual world. Although these people are the exception, they cannot simply be ignored during VR meetings.
Even for people with VR experience, spending several hours in virtual reality leads to dizziness and general discomfort, comparable to a hangover. This could be due to the ergonomics of the VR goggles. Although the hardware can certainly be improved, it is not reasonable to spend hours in VR glasses at the current state of the art.
Long online meetings in VR are therefore currently not feasible, a fact that is often ignored in discussions.
Meta promised a metaverse for work and leisure, but has not yet been able to deliver in this area. Horizons is still not available in Germany, and Meta Horizon Workrooms has not been able to establish itself in the business sector. Horizon World, Zuckerberg's metaverse solution, fell far short of expectations in terms of graphics.
There was a lot of mockery about the simple graphics and avatars without legs. The applications for the office in the Metaverse also failed to find a wide audience.
Looking at the success of Zuckerberg's Metaverse version to date, it is clear that Meta has not yet achieved its ambitious goals. Given the challenges that VR technology currently still faces, this is hardly surprising. Zuckerberg made a bold bet on a young technology and focused his concept narrowly on the area of social VR, a field of application that does not appeal to everyone. However, it is important to recognize and explore the broader spectrum of XR technologies in order to realize the full potential of these revolutionary technologies.
It should also be mentioned that Apple's strategy for promoting the Apple Vision Pro VR glasses has been much more conservative.
The hardware and software requirements for accessing the metaverse are still relatively high, which limits access to a large proportion of the potential user base. Virtual reality (VR) headsets, which are often seen as a prerequisite for a comprehensive metaverse experience, are still relatively expensive and niche products.
This lack of maturity has led many to be skeptical and doubtful that the metaverse will ever live up to its ambitious potential.
Despite the challenges it faces, there are also several reasons to be optimistic about the future of the metaverse. The concept of a connected virtual world holds immense opportunities for various industries, including gaming, entertainment, education and retail.
The gaming industry has already made great strides in developing virtual worlds that offer immersive and engaging experiences. Platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox have millions of active users, demonstrating the potential of the metaverse to capture the attention of a wide audience.
In addition, advances in VR technology and the growing popularity of augmented reality (AR) are expected to make the metaverse more accessible and user-friendly in the coming years. As the technology matures and becomes more affordable, the metaverse could become a reality.
The metaverse has the long-term potential to revolutionize the way we work, learn and socialize. Virtual offices and classrooms could offer more flexible and collaborative environments, while virtual social gatherings could bridge geographical distances and foster new connections.
Whether the Metaverse will be a flop or not depends on several factors. These include the further development of the technology, the development of convincing use cases that solve real problems and the ability to address concerns regarding data protection, security and accessibility.
To realize its full potential, the metaverse will require collaboration between various stakeholders to develop standards, including technology companies such as Meta and Apple, content creators, legislators and users.
By working together, they can create an open, inclusive and accessible metaverse that benefits everyone.
Are you interested in developing a virtual reality or 360° application? You may still have questions about budget and implementation. Feel free to contact me.
I am looking forward to you
Clarence Dadson CEO Design4real