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Microsoft, Meta, and others are founding a metaverse open standards group

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Microsoft, Epic Games, Meta, and 33 other companies and organizations have formed a standards group for “metaverse” tech. The Metaverse Standards Forum is supposed to foster open, interoperable standards for augmented and virtual reality, geospatial, and 3D tech.

According to a press release, the Metaverse Standards Forum will focus on “pragmatic, action-based projects” like hackathons and prototyping tools for supporting common standards. It’s also interested in developing “consistent terminology” for the space — where many players can’t even agree on what a “metaverse” is. In addition to the companies above, the group’s founding members include major pre-metaverse entities like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Nvidia, Qualcomm, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Unity, in addition to newer ones like Lamina1, a blockchain payments startup co-founded by Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson.

It’s missing a few big names, though. As Nick Statt of Protocol points out, there’s no sign of Apple, which is working on VR and AR tech. Niantic and Roblox, which have made early strides in blending games and virtual worlds, are also notably absent. More members may end up joining after the group begins operation; it expects to hold its first meetings in 2022.

“Industry leaders have stated that the potential of the metaverse will be best realized if it is built on a foundation of open standards,” the group says in a press release. “Building an open and inclusive metaverse at pervasive scale will demand a constellation of open interoperability standards.”

The “metaverse” is a catch-all term for virtual worlds, VR, and AR, and many of its subfields already have standards bodies, some of which have joined the Metaverse Standards Forum. Open standards don’t necessarily mean companies will create “the metaverse” as an interlinked space like the World Wide Web. (Epic describes its game Fortnite as a self-contained metaverse, for instance.) Open standards could simply make it easier for developers to build the same content for different platforms or for users to export data from one service to another.

Nonetheless, the forum suggests an interest in formalizing “metaverse” development as a unified field. And it hints at which companies are most interested in creating accepted standards for it — or at the very least, which ones want to be perceived as supporting these standards.





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Metaverse

Where Does Education Fit in an Emerging Metaverse?

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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.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.



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What is the future of life in the metaverse?

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Online avatars are essentially anonymous, and there’s a real question as to whether a crime committed in a virtual world has consequences in the real world.



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KPMG enters the metaverse, invests $30M in Web3 employee training

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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.

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.

Related: Yahoo launching Metaverse events for Hong Kong residents under restrictions

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.