The metaverse embodies a boundless realm of virtual and augmented reality technologies, where digital experiences and lifelike simulations are possible. This industry is growing rapidly, with approximately
To predict where the industry is headed, James Kaplan, the co-founder, and CEO of MeetKai, a decentralized metaverse powered by conversational AI, has identified six trends that will shape the future of XR in the metaverse. Here’s what he had to say before the launch of MeetKai’s “Phase 1 Beta” release, a free preview and live portal accessible via QR code on Times Square’s 47th Street and 7th Avenue, until August 11th.
The metaverse is a
When we combine various technologies (such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality) with our current internet infrastructure, we get an entirely new way of interacting online. Essentially, the metaverse is a virtual space that offers enriched value to e-experiences. It builds on the technologies in online communities, interactive experiences like games and movies, education and collaboration tools, shopping and similar services, and search engines. Still, it comes with novelties that edge existing technologies, such as:
All the above and more can exist inside the metaverse.
The metaverse is still in its early stages and has a long way to go before it's ready for mass adoption. Companies building the metaverse need to ensure the metaverse can provide a positive experience for all users, regardless of their technological capabilities, physical limitations, or even emotional state.
James Kaplan, the Co-Founder, and CEO of MeetKai Inc. felt a paradigm shift was necessary to culminate in a more intuitive and inclusive metaverse. MeetKai is an AI company that has been building virtual worlds and supporting third-party companies in their VR, AR, and MR endeavors since 2018. In
James opines that as XR technology becomes more accessible and easy to use, the market will likely see an increase in adoption.
According to a recent
MeetKai’s metaverse, on the other hand, happens to take accessibility to a whole new level: anyone will be able to join using browser-compatible smart devices - such as their phone or laptop - by simply clicking a link or scanning a QR code.
With the rise of standalone VR devices, James also believes virtual reality is no longer limited to high-end PCs and consoles. Standalone VR devices are self-contained units with everything necessary to produce a fully immersive experience.
They don't require external hardware or software; they plug into a power source and play. This means you can buy one of these devices for much less than you would pay for an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to get into VR gaming.
According to James, the metaverse will be more personalized and dynamic. The creators of the metaverse want to give users a personal experience that feels authentic. They want their users to feel like they’re interacting with real people and places, making sure the graphics are realistic and that each user can customize their avatar as they see fit.
In addition, developers have created features like voice recognition that enable you to make specific gestures or speak certain phrases to interact with other virtual beings (also known as avatars).
As virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technologies become more sophisticated, James believes we will see greater sophistication in how people use voice and video-based cross-platform communication. This includes:
Communication with AI
The ability to talk to your devices or the ability for them to talk back is already being explored by some tech giants like Google and Apple. For example, Siri has responded verbally when asked specific questions.
In addition, MeetKai technology will show machines can hold a conversation so convincingly that it can be difficult for humans to tell if an actual human or artificial assistant is on the other end.
Communication with other people
Who says you can't communicate with the dead without spells? All that is required to facilitate a family interaction with your ancestors are AI avatars in a 3D house. Away from transhuman communication, XR brings together people physically separated in ways never seen before.
The 3D environments will enable users to interact on a more interpersonal level, such that even tactile sensations like touches, hugs, and kisses can be felt.
Communication with other devices
As mentioned above, when discussing AI-driven systems such as Siri or MeetKai, these are just two examples of how voice user interfaces could influence our relationships with technology (and vice versa).
Imagine having an entire fleet of IoT devices connected through Alexa or Google Assistant—you'd be able to command any number of actions simply by speaking into your mobile device.
When asked about content and monetization, James replied the metaverse is going to be a place where it's easy for anyone to create content and share it with the world. Indeed, the current market is dominated by big companies that charge
In the proposed metaverse by James, however, free tools should be available for everyone to use and monetize their creations. This means everyone will have the ability to be a creator and make the metaverse their own. These changes will also make it easier for those with limited technical-savvy to join the new metaverse community.
The metaverse can't avoid an influx of people, ideas, and technologies that will demand a gigantic infrastructural overhaul in computing, storage, and networking. With cross-technological synergy, cloud computing has been identified as a viable solution to the metaverse demands.
Also, as more people enter the metaverse, James suggests there will be an influx of new ideas and technology. With this increased competition comes a higher bar for creators who want to make something stand out.
According to him, the types of players who enter the metaverse are also likely to be more diverse than what we see now—a mix of kids and adults with different backgrounds and experiences, all playing together in one space they can access anywhere.
This diversity could help us create a more inclusive environment as we explore how these technologies can improve our lives beyond entertainment purposes alone. Besides, the possibility of hiding one's real identities behind anonymous avatars could allow people to reinvent themselves and create for themselves new realities that boost their mental health.
James reiterates the need for a peer-to-peer metaverse. The metaverse represents the total of virtual worlds, augmented reality, and mixed reality environments, each hosted on their servers (or clouds). According to him, the current VR/AR industry is centralized mainly with a few major players.
However, as mobile technology advances and costs decrease, James believes we'll see more people using standalone devices rather than expensive computers tethered to cables in an office or living room.
This means the demographics of people using various hardware and software will increase and, in turn, will help create a vastly more diverse virtual reality community—one that includes older users, disabled avatars, and other marginalized groups.
It seems impossible to predict exactly where these new technologies will take us in the years and decades ahead. The fact that most people alive today have never known a world without the internet, means that we tend to take it for granted. But imagine how futuristic today’s world would have seemed in the olden days when people still used typewriters.
James Kaplan believes that as advances are made in AR, VR, and MR, it is certain our lives and how we experience reality won't remain the same—we might become so infinitely immersed in these new technologies that our online and offline realities and identities blur. But one thing is clear: new platforms, such as MeetKai, will orchestrate changes. The changes are coming, and they’re coming fast.
The XR umbrella covers VR, AR, and MR. The term refers to technologies that use devices such as headsets or glasses to create immersive experiences for users. It’s essential to understand the difference between these terms.
VR stands for virtual reality. It’s an immersive experience where you feel transported to a different world. You can see things with your eyes, but it's not real life; it's computer-generated (CG) content.
AR stands for augmented reality. This is when digital content is overlaid on real-life scenarios. That way, you can interact with it using your smartphone camera or similar devices such as Google Glasses or HoloLens.
MR stands for mixed reality. It combines VR and AR into one world where users can interact with both CG characters and natural environments simultaneously. Mixed realities allow us access to multiple dimensions at once, which means we can see digital and physical objects at once without having any trouble interacting between them.
PS: MeetKai Metaverse, the first browser-based metaverse, will offer a free preview of its technology in Times Square until August 11th, where users will be able to enter a “billboard portal” to play and explore a virtual Times Square and win exclusive prizes from iconic Times Square stores.