Considerations for meaningful metaverses: cornerstones of success

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    At South by Southwest (SXSW) in March 2023, a select group of experts will discuss the prospects of immersive technologies, especially augmented reality (AR and VR) and augmented reality (XR), and how they will shape the future. We looked at how we could be a driving force. society.

    They successfully used these technologies in meaningful ways and identified privacy, persistence, data interoperability and portability, and content availability as key considerations for creating persistent metaverse applications. , purpose and credibility, equality and fairness, were identified and discussed.

    As social media has become a privacy issue, we can no longer afford to ignore this topic in the new environment. XR headsets will inevitably need sensors to measure many user metrics for an immersive experience. This is most obviously to identify where the user is moving and looking. However, the ability to measure a wide range of user information also raises highly problematic privacy issues and creates legal challenges to ensure responsible use of XR-related opportunities.

    with Jussi Makinen Vergio, a manufacturer of advanced headsets and software solutions, highlights these concerns. VR headsets can track eye movements to record exactly what a user is looking at, or measure gaze strength. Such measurements are necessary in order to be able to render images and effectively navigate in the virtual world. However, such analytics can also identify a user’s sexual orientation, for example, based on the user’s gaze or the way people view them. Data ownership and data use considerations will be an issue for regulators.

    With so many commercially valuable applications, privacy concerns will explode. Eye tracking records what users are looking at, and associated analytics can identify how excited or agitated users are. For example, the relevance for measuring brand engagement and product interest is clear. Companies then attempt to leverage such data directly or sell such data to third parties. It therefore becomes necessary to develop a legal framework to regulate what types of information may be obtained, how data can be collected, and when and for what purposes the information can be used. increase.

    Another important aspect is the persistence of the metaverse environment. Makinen believes that being able to share such environments with and between people is a key requirement. Simply put, an environment that is not always up and available does not establish a reliable application that users will want to use.

    Ansi Komlainen, Director Gaia-X Finlandis a European initiative to develop a digital governance framework for cloud and edge technology solutions, suggesting that immersion does not actually require a specific technology, as immersion can occur in the user’s imagination. doing. More important was persistence. Metaverse-related environments and worlds need to continue so that virtual representations can properly emerge and gain relevance.

    Leslie Shannon, Head of Trends and Innovation Research at Nokia – Author Interconnected Realities: How the Metaverse Will Change Our Relationship with Technology Forever – Emphasized that persistence is a key requirement for the success of the Metaverse platform.

    Komlainen predicts that more and more virtual environments and services will be used, making data interoperability and portability more important. He wonders how regulators and companies can ensure data interoperability so that users are not locked into his one platform. Data portability plays a role in allowing users to move avatars and virtual objects from one metaverse to another without significant changes in appearance or functionality.

    Komlainen warns that if policymakers don’t act early enough, an anti-competitive climate for metaverse applications could take hold, making regulation introduction difficult, if not impossible. .

    conceptual hurdle

    Mika Rosendahl, CEO zoanThe company’s products and services have applications across industrial environments such as maritime training, but warns that interoperability is the latest buzzword. Companies are not committed to interoperability. The existing incentive structure is against interoperability. He questions whether he is one of those areas where legislation is needed if interoperability is desired.

    Shannon argued that consumers don’t really want interoperability, saying, “Just because we might be able to do something technically doesn’t actually solve the problems users are screaming about. It’s not that they are.”

    Data interoperability and portability face conceptual hurdles. The different purposes of different types of environments limit feature compatibility. A game environment is very different from a collaborative design tool, much less a digital twin landscape of a sensor database. In fact, the portability of such objects and functions can conflict with the very goals, values, and strategic rule sets of different groups, market segments, and purpose-serving environments.

    Computer Weekly’s 2022 article offers some legal considerations. In a game environment, the goal of an attack could be stealing objects or flags. In the process, it was natural to destroy bridges and enemy weapons. In a work environment, similar behavior would probably be criminal. For example, in co-design environments, stealing code or blueprints makes these environments even more untrustworthy. But where does the gaming environment end and where does the working environment begin?

    Rosendahl proposes a kind of citizenship in virtual worlds, similar to how people use passports to travel around the world to other countries. His team is working on the Virtual Identity Code (VIC), an identity protocol for storing user-related data that allows rendering of a user’s avatar in different environments.

    VIC could become a standard of sorts that enables transfers, similar to how apps can be used across many online platforms today. Such transferability can be automated in many ways and basically works in the background without the user being aware of it.

    He added that content creation in the metaverse is still inadequate, partly due to the current high cost of developing high-quality content. But communities need content to create valuable destinations for their users. Artificial intelligence could play a key role in creating content and environments for communities of diverse interests.

    Makinen observes that great communities have a sense of purpose. He points out that many abandoned online networks and worlds have never established a purpose. The question is, what are joint missions and why should users participate? Injecting purpose into the metaverse platform will be a key aspect in driving adoption.

    Komlainen adds that trust is an important part of creating credible and trustworthy platforms and networks, similar to creating communities in real life. The community doesn’t necessarily have to solve problems, but it should provide something interesting that people can come together to contribute to.

    equality issue

    Journalist Louise Andren Mayton, Head of Business Economics Svenska Dougbladeexpresses concern that the gaming and technology sectors, at least some sectors, are dominated by men.

    The question, then, is how to ensure balanced gender representation in this emerging landscape. Shannon emphasized the complexity of the situation. She points out that more women than men are using the metaverse, and more women are starting metaverse projects within companies. She thinks the social aspects of the new computing environment may be one of her reasons for this phenomenon, but the companies working to build the Metaverse are led by men.

    Shannon points to a November 2022 study by McKinsey & Company. Even in the Metaverse, women are still barred from leadership roles: “The reality is that women spend more time in the proto-metaverse than men and, according to our data, are more likely to spearhead and execute metaverse efforts. As with the industry as a whole, women are a minority in the Metaverse economy.”

    The juxtaposition is remarkable. Women make up the majority of metaverse power users, spending more time in the metaverse and spearheading more metaverse her initiatives than men. However, 9 out of 10 leadership roles in the organizations that create metaverse standards are held by men.

    Rosendahl spoke about her company’s experience in attracting talent and the difficulties in finding and hiring female developers. Wärtsilä Voyage Head of Growth Vesa Koivmar saw the need to make changes at the institutional and organizational level to ensure gender equality. Makinen added the need for general rules and regulations to ensure fair treatment across genders in order to create a productive and socially responsible metaverse her user and work environment. rice field.

    Regional issues also divide opinion on how the Metaverse will be leveraged and to what extent its benefits can be exploited professionally and personally. Koivumaa notes that technology infrastructure and resulting connectivity vary by region. He has experienced firsthand the difficulty of using advanced platforms across geographies with different levels of technology availability.

    Rosendahl added that African communities in particular are underrepresented on many platforms, but he is cautiously optimistic that these communities can be better served and actively engaged in the metaverse.

    Developing a metaverse-related application takes time.As Koivmar remembered SXSW: “Developing this immersive environment is a marathon, not a sprint.”

    Martin Schwirn is the author of the following books: Small Data, Big Disruption: How to Spot the Signs of Change and Manage Uncertainty (ISBN 9781632651921). He is also a strategic visionary and Senior Advisor to Business Finland, helping start-ups and incumbents to position themselves in tomorrow’s markets.


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