The metaverse is intended to become a series of interconnected virtual worlds, “a collection of galaxies” where a digital version of ourselves will be able to move freely while keeping our luggage, explains Laurent Chrétien, the general manager of the Laval Virtual show which opens this Tuesday, April 12, 2022. The metaverse has become the essential concept of the digital sphere. since Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, decided to make it the central concept of his empire, now renamed Meta.
But what the concept covers exactly is still being invented, explains Laurent Chrétien, who organizes in Laval (Mayenne), this show which is among the largest European events in the field of virtual and augmented reality. The different virtual worlds are still embryonic, and are mainly linked to video games, the world of training or that of events.
Interconnect virtual worlds
For Laurent Chrétien, they are called upon to develop as “galaxies” carried by different publishers, with “planets” different, depending on the goals sought: to play, to have fun, to work, to trade, etc. “Obviously, all of this will only make sense when our avatar can move freely from one galaxy to another” from one publisher to another, without being a prisoner of this or that platform as is the case today for social networks, he explains.
“This interoperability” this ability to be retained from one publisher to another “metadata” from “aesthetic features” still to be built. ” We’re not there yet “ he says: “There are virtual worlds, but there are not” metaverse capable of bringing them all together, he says. For these galaxies to function and interconnect, it will be necessary to use all the digital technologies that have exploded in recent years.
It will take sensors of all kinds to convert our environment into digital data, blockchain – block chain technology – to provide the possibility of authenticated digital exchanges, the cloud, artificial intelligence and supercomputers to provide the necessary computing resources, 5G to access virtual worlds everywhere… Virtual worlds “are only the tip of the iceberg” sums up Laurent Chrétien.
Less lock in the user
The Laval Virtual exhibition and its 220 exhibitors present until Thursday a small review of the equipment necessary for these virtual worlds, and examples of application. Visitors will thus find virtual reality masks there, such as that of Pico, owned by the Chinese group ByteDance (TikTok), or that of the French Lynx. He will also see examples of haptic gloves or clothing, which allow you to physically feel what the avatar is experiencing in the virtual world (tactile sensations, shocks or pressures, heat, etc.).
“In terms of equipment, it’s the most beautiful exhibition we’ve ever had” , says Laurent Chrétien. However, the general public has not yet really taken hold of virtual reality masks, contrary to what many experts predicted after the acquisition by Facebook in 2014 of Oculus, the pioneer of virtual reality masks. Sales of headsets almost doubled worldwide in 2021, but still only reached 11.2 million copies sold, more than three quarters of which by Oculus / Meta, according to the firm IDC. The price (350 euros for the Oculus Quest) and the size may have tempered the desire to buy.
For his part, Laurent Chrétien wonders if these masks do not go too far in immersion to really seduce a universal public. “I believe that virtual reality will develop more brutally when the tool encloses the user lesshe explains. I believe that there will be, in the years to come, a convergence between virtual reality masks and augmented reality glasses” which merely superimpose digital images on the real environment. “We need to be able to move from the virtual world to the real world more easily” he believes.
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The metaverse “will grow when the tool locks the user in less”
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