Last week, The VR/AR Association wrapped up its second two-day summit (held on March 9-10), dedicated specifically to the metaverse. Both of these events, as well as other events throughout the year, are part of the complete Immerse Global Summit Series, which replaced the VR/AR Association Global Summit last year.
“We have a lot of events going on this year, and we’re really excited to have you all with us,” Immerse Global Summit Series executive producer Anne-Marie Enns said during opening remarks.
What Is the Metaverse?
“There are people who are using and abusing the metaverse for their profit… We’re in a peak hype and expectation phase,” said Ffiske. “In my opinion, the metaverse doesn’t exist yet – which is a weird thing to say since we’re all at a conference about the metaverse.”
It might have been a weird thing to say, but a number of speakers took variations on the theme.
“This year will be the peak hype cycle,” 8th Wall VP of Product, Tom Emrich, said in his talk “Trends to Watch for in 2022.” “Right now, the metaverse is more mirage than miracle. The more we get into this, the more we’re going to realize that there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.”
Speakers said not having achieved the complete vision shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing accomplishments and possibilities.
“We’ve had a vision of the metaverse for many years now,” emerging technology strategist and consultant, Amy Peck, said in her talk “The Metaverse Did Not Just Fall From the Sky.” “I like to think of the metaverse as not being a destination but a journey, an evolution.”
Speakers commented that people in the space should be wary not to overuse the term.
“The term ‘metaverse’ has become the key buzzword successor to nearly every tech topic,” T-Lab’s Elmar Arunov said in his talk “Metaverse – the Virtual Revolution.” “We should be careful and not use the term in a reflectionary way as we may damage the word.”
Arunov also introduced another idea that might have been odd at a VR/AR Association event: the visible portion of this idea is much smaller than the portion no one sees.
While the METAVERSE 2.0 event was hosted by the VR/AR Association, a number of speakers and panelists drew attention to the fact that the metaverse is not a strictly VR/AR technology or experience.
“The rollout of 5G and the strategic investments made by companies out there are very much driven by the metaverse,” Ericsson’s Cristina Oprea said in a session “Building Blocks of the Metaverse.” Oprea cited a story that Meta is putting network demands on service providers. “The telecom industry is also trying to find the golden nugget and ways to monetize that.”
The ways in which different kinds of computing factor into VR/AR experiences themselves was also a highlight in a number of talks.
“The metaverse also symbolizes how the internet is not just AR, not just VR, not just blockchain, not just AI, it’s a coming together of all of these emerging technologies,” Emrich said in a talk on “Trends to Watch for in 2022.” He also predicted that the accessibility of mobile phones will keep them as the dominant AR device for the near future.
In his talk, Emrich also said that AR was going to provide value to another recurring conference talking point: NFTs.
Blockchain and Decentralization
“Blockchain has really revolutionized the virtual space through ownership,” SuperWorld CEO and co-founder Hrish Lotlikar said in his talk “SuperWorld: AR/VR+Web3+AI to Build a Better World.” “Life is non-fungible and many of the things that we love and own are non-fungible… the future of the metaverse is real-world utility.”
In this type of conversation, NFTs don’t only promise digital ownership, they also promise asset interoperability.
“NFTs are changing the game… I own that digital asset anywhere in the metaverse,” VNTANA CEO and co-founder, Ashley Crowder, said in her talk “How 3D Is Impacting E-Commerce, NFTs, and the Metaverse. “It’s taking ownership back to the player, the user, back from the game company.”
The topic of ownership also becomes important when digital assets play a role in how we present ourselves across VR/AR environments.
“It will become a necessity to know who you are interacting with,” MIAT (Multiverse Institute For Arts and Technology) CEO, founder, executive producer, and artistic director Elisabetta Rotolo said in a panel discussion “Are We Ready for MetaEducation?“ “Digital identity is much more than just a customizable avatar.”
Blockchain and decentralization were both brought up as ways to establish trust in virtual identities as well as to establish VR/AR networks at scale.
“Decentralization has been around a lot longer than bitcoin or blockchain and has its roots in peer-to-peer technologies,” Blippar CEO Faisal Galaria said in his talk, “Decentralization Is Central to the Metaverse.” “Decentralization is not just a feature of the open metaverse, it’s a necessity.”
After all, decentralization and ownership don’t only apply to visual assets but also to things like information.
“We need to make sure that our data is our data,” Dr. Colleen Bielitz said in the MetaEducation panel. “It’s not right now, and that’s really scary.”
Too. Much. Info.
This two-day event consisted of over 80 sessions and, as ever when it comes to event coverage, we weren’t able to attend all sessions or cover every moment of every attended session.
Videos are making their way to the VR/AR Association YouTube page, so we encourage you to keep an eye out for those as well as catch up with videos of past events and events happening around the world.