As Kamal Haasan gets Stet to enter the metaverse, here’s how it’s going to play out

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Days after Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta to highlight where the company thinks the internet’s future lies, Kamal Haasan announced he was entering the metaverse. This means for fans that they could get closer to the actor and his work without even having to take their eyes off their personal device. The virtual space where the physical meets the digital has already started to take shape in the gaming world, now Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seeks to bring it closer to people for purposes of everything from business to entertainment.

What is the buzz about the Metaverse?

Haasan said he is teaming up with an Indian digital company that will create an online metaverse game, where the actor will have his “own world” and a museum dedicated to him.

“I am excited to explore the emerging intersection of the digital and physical world, which is now known as the metaverse. The journey of my life of more than six decades will be my dedication to this metaverse, ”Haasan said in a statement. Inside the Haasan Metaverse, fans everywhere will be able to interact with its digital avatars and shop for physical and digital memorabilia.

The way the ‘metaverse’ has dominated discussions in the digital world in recent days, you might think it’s a term coined by the company formerly known as Facebook. The point is, it’s a creation of writer Neal Stephenson who used it in his 1992 novel Snow Crash to depict a virtual world or imaginary digital space. In that sense, the metaverse that Zuckerberg wants his company to work on isn’t too different from the space conceptualized in Stephenson’s novel.

Zuckerberg believes the Metaverse will unleash the historic potential of digital technologies by being a world away from the world where people, or their digital avatars, can interact with others and work or play in a way that’s straight out of a novel or science fiction film. Meta will hire 10,000 workers in Europe to create the Metaverse, though Zuckerberg has said it won’t be a space that a single company can control. But the company certainly wants to take the lead in setting it up, which is why its 37-year-old founder explained how Facebook would “effectively move from people who see us primarily as a social media company to a metaverse company.” .

So, WHAT IS METAVERSE?

The prefix “meta” comes from the Greek and means beyond, after or through. Thus, the coat rack of “meta” and “universe”, that is to say metaverse, would connote a place which is beyond the world or the universe as we know it, which exists in the virtual realm but which seems just as real.

The concept is not new, however. If you’ve seen a movie like The Matrix, or Real Player One, you’ll easily know what that entails: a virtual reality space that people can enter and access through the use of a gadget or device. Think of a video game, say Fifa or Minecraft. The player controls a character or the events on the screen using controls and buttons. Now what if, instead of sitting in front of the console and watching the game unfold on the screen, the player could be inside the game, participating not from the outside but as an integrated character? to this one?

But as game companies have taken the first steps in the direction of the metaverse, the virtual world envisioned by tech giants will be larger and seek to encompass everything from desktop to entertainment.

WHAT CAN I DO IN THE METAVERSE?

It’s a concept that involves an online world where people can interact with others, collaborate and communicate virtually, without needing to be in the same space. For example, you might be in New Delhi and your family might be in Calcutta, but you might be enjoying dinner together sitting around the same table. It’s like Zoom or Google Meet on steroids. Instead of looking at a screen, you would actually see your family members across the table.

The potential of virtual reality is immense, especially from a commercial point of view. How about being able to have a full try on the dress you found online before placing an order. Or, in fact, jump in the car you want to test drive while sitting in your living room?

The metaverse could also be a game-changer for working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of seeing colleagues on a video call grid, employees could join them in a virtual office.

The device of choice initially for the Metaverse, at least as far as Facebook is concerned, appears to be the VR, or virtual reality, headset. And, Facebook already has its own in-house product – the Oculus VR headset after it acquired the company for $ 2 billion in 2014.

Facebook has released meeting software for businesses called Horizon Workrooms for use with its Oculus VR headsets, although early reviews weren’t great. Headsets cost $ 300 or more, putting the most cutting edge metaverse experiences out of reach for many. For those who have the means, users could, through their avatars, navigate between virtual worlds created by different companies.

HOW IT WORKS ?

Facebook made its first forays into creating a VR world with the 2019 launch of Facebook Horizon, an immersive, invite-only environment that users can enter by putting on an Oculus headset. In August, it rolled out Horizon Workrooms, a feature where colleagues wearing VR headsets can hold meetings in a virtual room where they all appear as cartoonish 3D versions of themselves.

However, in the future, the prospect is that the Metaverse will be a much more evolved space. As venture capitalist Matthew Ball wrote in a blog post, the metaverse will be “a fully functioning economy … where individuals and businesses can create, own, invest, sell” products. There are already monetizable gambling tokens and a new asset class called NFT (non-fungible tokens) has also appeared and only exists in digital form.

Additionally, Ball believes the metaverse “will be an experience that spans both digital and physical worlds” and offers “unprecedented interoperability of data, digital assets / assets, content.”

In an interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg said that “the metaverse is not just virtual reality” and will be accessible on various computing platforms such as virtual and augmented reality, as well as on the personal computer, devices mobiles and game consoles.

The metaverse, the Facebook founder said, would be “a persistent and synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think will probably look like some sort of hybrid between the social platforms we see today, but an environment where you ‘reincarnated there’.

HOW IS IT BUILT?

A blog post published in September by Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook Reality Labs, and Nick Clegg, vice president of global business for the company, stated that “the metaverse is not a unique product than a company can build on its own, “mentioning how it would exist. “Whether Facebook is there or not”. The post also noted that such a metaverse will not be “built overnight” and would likely take another 10 to 15 years to become a reality.

In another blog post, which announced the recruitment project in Europe to drive its metaverse projects, the company further stated that “no company will own or operate the metaverse” and that “its key feature will be its openness and interoperability ”, which means“ collaboration and cooperation between companies, developers, creators and decision makers ”.

Online games like Fortnite and gaming platforms like Roblox have started experimenting with immersive virtual worlds, with Fortnite hosting a virtual reality concert starring popstar Ariana Grande. Graphics company Nvidia is reportedly building its “Omniverse”, which would be a platform to connect virtual 3D worlds.

As for the Facebook metaverse, the company said it “will require continued investment in technology products and talent, as well as growth across the business.” governments, nonprofits and academia “to figure out how to build these technologies responsibly”. And, now, he has declared his intention to hire 10,000 highly skilled workers in Europe to further push the creation of the metaverse.

WHAT ABOUT DATA CONFIDENTIALITY?

The timing of Facebook’s European jobs announcement was not missed, as it does in the wake of blackouts and whistleblower leaks that generated negative publicity for the social media giant.

After former Facebook employee Frances Haugens shared internal documents suggesting the company knew its products could negatively impact children and may have withdrawn its crackdown on hate speech , The Washington Post – a publication owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – said last month that Facebook’s metaverse was “part of a larger effort to rehabilitate the company’s reputation with policymakers and reposition Facebook to shape the regulation of next wave Internet technologies.

While the company hasn’t shared many details about the privacy and use of data in the Metaverse, controversies generated by Facebook’s handling of user data in the past mean that concerns have been expressed about the how it would approach the qualitatively different, and possibly more personal, data that users will generate in the metaverse.

“You will be able to spend time with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more. It’s not necessarily about spending more time online, it’s about making the time you spend online more meaningful, ”the company blog said in September, making the familiar talk about time spent. on its platforms.

Focusing its development of the metaverse in Europe, where the European Union has implemented some of the world’s strictest privacy and data handling rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could be part of it. ‘a strategy to stay in tune with regulators while creating new technology.

“The EU also has an important role to play in shaping new internet rules. European policymakers are leading the way in helping to integrate European values ​​such as freedom of expression, privacy, transparency and the rights of individuals into the day-to-day functioning of the Internet, “the company said as part of the plans to expand its metaverse push to Europe.

(An earlier version of this article was published on October 29)

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