The Metaverse is actually a prototype of a sophisticated and intuitive universe. How can we make it a reality? How is the Tec making progress with this technology?
The Metaverse promises to change how we interact socially. Tec de Monterrey is making progress on this technological innovation with its Virtual Campus, where students attend classes as personalized avatars.
In this world created by the Tec, there are green areas where you can sit and chat to friends, auditoriums, a soccer field, classrooms, a lighthouse, and a beach where you can take a virtual break.
This technology has been very convenient during the pandemic, seeing as it’s possible to interact with classmates and teachers in a more satisfying and approachable manner than in video conferences.
The Tec Review team paid a visit to this “Metaverse” guided by Enrique Cortés Rello, Director of the Artificial Intelligence Hub. There, we were introduced to it for the first time, and we realized that its resources will become more and more complex over time.
Enrique Cortés explains in an interview what the challenges will be when constructing these other worlds.
He says that what we’re seeing on platforms such as Minecraft, Fortnite, or Roblox are Metaverse prototypes. We will see the most advanced version in 10 years’ time, because we don’t yet have the technical protocols or technology for this initiative to work smoothly without interruptions.
How do you experience the Virtual Campus? First, you design your avatar. Then, you go straight to the campus. From there, you can go to an auditorium, your classes, walk to the beach, and take a boat ride on the virtual sea.
During your classes, teachers can project floating objects that you can zoom in on to see in detail so as to better understand the concept they’re explaining to you.
You can also do your presentations with notes suspended in the air for your classmates to see.
For now, access to the Virtual Campus is limited to certain Tec de Monterrey students.
The Metaverse is the next step in social interaction, but more elaborate and sophisticated than the one we know.
For Enrique Cortés, one of the main challenges for this system is interoperability, i.e. the ability to leave one platform, enter another, and take the same identity with you.
What’s more, to create what’s coming, we have to talk about the convergence of using 5G and 6G networks, storing large amounts of information in the cloud, light and fast hardware, as well as advances in graphics, video games, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“The Metaverse will integrate every metaverse that currently exists on its own. It will be persistent and synchronous. There’ll be no such thing as turning it off and then turning it on. It’ll be a platform that will exist continuously over time,” explains Cortés Rello.
Just like the internet, there will be only one with millions of possibilities. Protocols are required to achieve this.
However, “making this model of the world is computationally very difficult, and it should be like the internet: when you click on a page and go to another website, there are a lot of technical protocols that everyone respects, or it doesn’t work. The same thing must be developed for the Metaverse,” he explains.
5G and 6G networks are necessary for figures to be seen in 3D in the Metaverse, with subtle expressions and movements.
“Right now, the bandwidth doesn’t have the capacity to share three-dimensional material, nor the latency for us to hear each other instantly,” according to the expert.
Virtual and augmented reality glasses are bulky and may be uncomfortable for wearing all day, but this will evolve. In the future, only contact lenses will be required to have an immersive experience.
Today, multiplayer video games have the capacity for 100 people, to give a number. They don’t have the capacity to accommodate millions of users.
When the Metaverse gets here, there will be no limit. It will have the capacity to accommodate all of the world’s inhabitants smoothly. This is how the internet works: it has millions of users at the same time.
Greater capacity for storing information in the cloud will be needed, but who will this data belong to? Users, platforms, or data storage companies?
The Artificial Intelligence Hub Director points out that Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are the main owners of data stored in the cloud, and they will play a role, as will the companies that users provide their information to.
“If you use Waze, Google Maps, or Facebook today, these companies know where you’ve been, but in a Metaverse, they’ll know what you did in even greater detail.”
The internet doesn’t have a government. It doesn’t have anybody controlling it. There are no laws (except privacy laws). It’s a decentralized mechanism, and the Metaverse will be the same. It’ll be a distributed system.
Who will have control of commercial transactions? It’s totally unknown. Cortés Rello gives an example of a possible area of conflict:
In certain video games, cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) are accepted as form of payment, but as users and transactions increase, this has to be regulated.
“There’ll be no shortage of those who use these spaces to launder their money by changing it to cryptocurrency, investing it in digital land or art (there’s a platform called Decentraland that sells real estate in the Metaverse), and after a while, selling their land for cryptocurrency to then exchange it for clean cash.”
People’s lives will mostly unfold in virtual reality. There’ll be those with more than one identity. Which one are they going to use? When and what for? That depends on the person.
The specialist doesn’t doubt there’ll be crime in the Metaverse, so there’ll be a need for cybersecurity.
You’ll be able to go to the supermarket in the Metaverse, grab cereal, apples, cheese, put it in your cart and pay for it digitally so that it reaches your home physically in half an hour. It’ll be a total convergence with the real world.
“It’s not clear where education will end and work will begin, because while you’re studying you might be having fun, and when you’re working, you might also be having fun, all at the same time. Borders will be very artificial,” he says.
The role of public spaces, stores, streets, squares, and universities will be different, because the main ones will be in the Metaverse.
“The Metaverse is an extremely challenging project. As a specialist, the merging of AI and data science is very exciting, with lots of open questions about how it’ll work,” says the expert.