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As more tech companies develop virtual and augmented reality products, some oversight groups are trying to keep the industry on the same page. The newest of these is the Metaverse Standards Forum, which aims to drive open interoperability, which could make it easier for developers to build across platforms.
As announced today, the forum already has some major players on board, such as Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games, Adobe, NVIDiA, Sony, Unity and others. But there are also some glaring absences, including companies like Niantic, Apple, Roblox and Snapchat, which are building consumer “metaverse” products as well.
The Metaverse Standards Forum is free to join and plans to focus on “pragmatic, action-based projects” like hackathons and open source tooling.
“There won’t be a Meta-run metaverse, just as there isn’t a ‘Microsoft internet’ or ‘Google internet’ today,” explained Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg in a blog post last month. “Like the internet, the metaverse will be an interconnected system that transcends national borders, so there will need to be a web of public and private standards, norms and rules to allow for it to operate across jurisdictions.”
Consortiums like these are only effective if enough companies adopt their standards, though.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang, chief security officer at AI content moderation company Spectrum Labs, launched the Oasis Consortium earlier this year. In an effort to promote greater commitments to safety from gaming and social companies, the Oasis Consortium developed a list of user safety standards, which it hopes will become an industry standard.
“If the metaverse is going to survive, it has to have safety in it,” Wang told the Technology Review.
Content moderation is especially tricky in virtual reality, when online harassment or abuse can feel even more frightening due to the immersive nature of the technology. And in some cases, it seems like companies are prioritizing product development over robust safety tools.
Similar to the Metaverse Standards Forum, some key players are missing from the Oasis Consortium, like Meta. And in the past, groups like this have become smaller and smaller once internal conflict inevitably arises.
The Metaverse Standards Forum is led by the Khronos Group, a nonprofit consortium working on AR/VR, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more. Khronos has already tried to set a standard for VR APIs with its similarly named VR Standards Initiative in 2016, which included companies like Google, NVIDIA. Epic Games and Oculus, which is now part of Meta.
Meta—the company formerly known as Facebook—is running a new TV ad showing a future in which college students slip on a lightweight VR headset to enter a lecture hall where a professor can toss 3D models of biological cells to students who can pull them apart to demonstrate some concept.
It’s the latest sign that Big Tech sees education as a key piece of the rush to build a metaverse, the immersive Internet of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality that so far is a disconnected mix of clunky tech gear and beta software platforms inspired by science fiction.
This technology raises lots of exciting possibilities and some tough challenges, for both K12 classrooms and college classrooms of the future. And to help us sort through this emerging space, we invited two guests to the podcast who have seen more of this VR space than most and are thinking through these issues.
Those guests are Greg Heiberger, associate dean of academics and student success at South Dakota State University and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and a co-author of a recent Brookings Institution policy brief about education in the metaverse with advice for Facebook and other tech giants on how to build a metaverse that is education friendly.
The session was recorded in front of a live audience at the ISTE Live edtech conference in New Orleans this week.
KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms in Canada and the United States, has revealed the opening of its first metaverse collaboration hub to help its employees and clients pursue growth opportunities in the digital era.
KPMG is entering the metaverse with a new collaboration hub that will connect employees, clients and others with Web3. The company is making a collective $30 million investment this year in Web3 experiences, with the metaverse hub as the “signature piece.”
According to a Tuesday report by Fortune, the hub will be focused on education, collaboration, training, events and workshops with Cliff Justice, KPMG U.S. leader of enterprise innovation claiming that it is presently being utilized for such things but that KPMG intends to hire people to build it and expand it over time.
The long-term objective for the company is to examine other potential metaverse use cases such as health care, consumer, retail, media and financial services.
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— THE RELEVANCE HOUSE. (@RelevanceHouse) June 28, 2022
Laura Newinski, deputy chair and chief operating officer at KPMG in the U.S., said:
“The metaverse is a market opportunity, a way to re-engage talent, and a path to connect people across the globe through a new collaborative experience.”
The companies will continue to explore possibilities in the crypto and Web 3.0 space, co-create new tools and solutions that provide critical insights, launch immersive learning and development platforms, recruit talent to contribute knowledge and help navigate the changing confluence of the physical and digital worlds, among other things, as part of its innovation strategy.
The COVID-19 epidemic sparked people’s interest in the metaverse. There has been an increase in the desire for methods to make internet contact more lifelike as more individuals work and go to school online. JPMorgan, one of the biggest banks in the United States, made headlines earlier this year by publishing a paper suggesting metaverse technology was a “one trillion-dollar opportunity,” along with establishing its own virtual headquarters in the Decentraland (MANA) metaverse.
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