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🗣 Microsoft, Epic Games, Meta, and 33 other companies and organizations have formed a standards group for “metaverse” tech. The Metaverse Standards Forum is supposed to foster open, interoperable standards for augmented and virtual reality, geospatial, and 3D tech.

Announced last week, The Metaverse Standards Forum brought together leading standards organizations and companies for industry-wide cooperation on interoperability standards needed to build the open metaverse. The Forum will explore where the lack of interoperability is holding back metaverse deployment and how the work of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), defining and evolving needed standards, may be coordinated and accelerated. Open to any organization at no cost, the Forum’s focus will be on pragmatic, action-based projects such as implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tooling, to accelerate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards.

It’s also interested in developing “consistent terminology” for the space — where many players can’t even agree on what a “metaverse” is. The group’s founding members include major pre-metaverse entities like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Nvidia, Qualcomm, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Unity, in addition to newer ones like Lamina1, a blockchain payments startup co-founded by Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson.

The metaverse is motivating the novel integration and deployment of diverse technologies for collaborative spatial computing, such as interactive 3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, photorealistic content authoring, geospatial systems, end-user content tooling, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physical simulation, online economies, multi-user gaming, and more – at new levels of scale and immersiveness.

🗣 Hosted by the Khronos Group, the Forum is open to any company, standards organization, or university at no charge through a simple click-through Participant Agreement. Companies that wish to provide Forum oversight, and may wish to fund Forum projects, can choose to become principal members.

Multiple industry leaders have stated that the potential of the metaverse will be best realized if it is built on a foundation of open standards. Building an open and inclusive metaverse at a pervasive scale will demand a constellation of open interoperability standards created by SDOs, such as The Khronos Group, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Open Geospatial Consortium, the Open AR Cloud, the Spatial Web Foundation, and many others. The Metaverse Standards Forum aims to foster consensus-based cooperation between diverse SDOs and companies to define and align requirements and priorities for metaverse standards—accelerating their availability and reducing duplication of effort across the industry.

“The metaverse will bring together diverse technologies, requiring a constellation of interoperability standards, created and maintained by many standards organizations,” said Neil Trevett, Khronos president, and declared the Forum “a unique venue for coordination between standards organizations and industry, with a mission to foster the pragmatic and timely standardization that will be essential to an open and inclusive metaverse.”

The activities of the Forum, which are expected to start in July 2022, will be directed by the needs and interests of its members and may involve diverse technology domains such as 3D assets and rendering; human interface and interaction paradigms such as AR and VR; user-created content; avatars; identity management; privacy; and financial transactions.

On the other hand, Nick Statt of Protocol points out that some big names, such as Apple, Niantic, and Roblox are missing. Despite this, more members may end up joining after the group begins operation next month.

It’s safe to say the “metaverse” is a catch-all term for virtual worlds, VR, and AR, and many of its subfields already have standards bodies, some of which have joined the Metaverse Standards Forum. Open standards don’t necessarily mean companies will create “the metaverse” as an interlinked space like the World Wide Web, but it could make it easier for developers to build the same content for different platforms or for users to export data from one service to another.

Nonetheless, the forum suggests an interest in formalizing “metaverse” development as a unified field and its conformation gives a hint at which companies are most interested in creating accepted standards for it, or at the very least, which ones want to be perceived as supporting these standards.

👉 Metaverse Standards Forum’s founding members include:

0xSenses, Academy Software Foundation, Adobe, Alibaba, Autodesk, Avataar, Blackshark.ai, CalConnect, Cesium, Daly Realism, Disguise, the Enosema Foundation, Epic Games, the Express Language Foundation, Huawei, IKEA, John Peddie Research, Khronos, Lamina1, Maxon, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, OpenAR Cloud, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Otoy, Perey Research and Consulting, Qualcomm Technologies, Ribose, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Spatial Web Foundation, Unity, VerseMaker, Wayfair, the Web3D Consortium, the World Wide Web Consortium, and the XR Association (XRA).

More information on joining can be found at metaverse-standards.org.

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