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Metaverse December 7, 2021

MetaMundo aims for 2022 launch with new funding

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MetaMundo, a virtual nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace focused on metaverses, has announced the completion of a seed funding round of $2.7 million.

The platform will enable users to buy, sell, and license metaverse assets once it launches in the first quarter of 2022.

MetaMundo’s debut funding included Hypersphere Ventures, Digital Currency Group, OP Crypto, Metaartel Ventures. Inaddition angel investments from the co-founders of Aave and Rarible, among others.

MetaMundo

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MetaMundo lets designers and creators mint, sell and license their NFT

The platform, which is based on the layer-two network Polygon. Additionally allows designers and creators to mint, sell, and license NFT assets for use in virtual and augmented reality. Moreover as across a variety of metaverse worlds such as Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and Somnium Space.

According to the announcement, using the Polygon network saves users money on gas fees when compared to the Ethereum network.

The marketplace is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2022

MetaMundo predicts the marketplace will launch in the first quarter of 2022. In addition it will feature a large library of items such as avatars, wearables, vehicles, and buildings, among other things.

Mark Studholme, a co-founder of MetaMundo, explained the technology behind the project:

“MetaMundo has a set of tools that convert, decimate, and optimize the original 3D ‘parent’ file into individual ‘child’ files, each optimized for a specific metaverse. Using the ERC 721 contract, we mint the parent file as a single NFT. Which serves as a wrapper for the child files and NFTs. As a result, when you collect the parent NFT, it includes all of the child NFTs.”

When the platform integrates more metaverses, Studholme says they’ll “convert and optimize new child files and add them to the parent NFT.”

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Metaverse

Will USD be the Standard Metaverse Protocol?

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While the word metaverse is used loosely to describe a unified virtual world, this is not entirely correct. Currently, there are a great number of platforms that are nothing more than just little islands unto themselves with no connectivity to other virtual spaces, the people, objects and other platforms.

Players at the centre of creating the metaverse and fans of metaverse reckon the metaverse should have some measure of interoperability that allows users to seamlessly navigate from one virtual space to the next pretty much like people do on the web today thanks to the HTTP protocol.

Now, it looks like the Universal Scene Description (USD) protocol might become the foundation of interoperable content and experiences in the metaverse the same way HTML is to the internet today.

Invented by a movie studio

The USD protocol, which was originally invented by Pixar, is a perfect fit for the needs of the metaverse. Nvidia, a power player in the metaverse space, seems to agree.

In fact, Nvidia is rooting for the USD as the “HTML of the metaverse.” 

The HTML forms a description of a webpage that can be hosted on the internet, and is retrieved and rendered locally by a web browser.

“The most fundamental standard needed to create the metaverse is the description of a virtual world. At Nvidia, we believe the first version of that standard already exists. It is the Universal Scene Description (USD)—an open and extensible ecosystem for describing, composing, simulating, and collaborating within 3D worlds,” writes Nvidia’s Rev Lebaredian and Michael Kass.

Will USD be the Standard Metaverse Protocol?

Browser protocol

It is envisaged that with some sort of a ‘USD browser’, the protocol could become the common method to define virtual spaces and make it easy for anyone to decipher and render.

USD includes features necessary for scaling to large data sets like lazy loading and efficient retrieval of time-sampled data. It is extensible, allowing users to customize data schemas, input and output formats, and methods for finding assets.

“In short, USD covers the very broad range of requirements that Pixar found necessary to make its feature films,” Rev says.

Pixar created the USD protocol in order to make collaboration on presumably complex 3D animation projects much easier, and open-sourced it in 2015.

In other words, the USD is not just another file format for 3D geometry.

It describes a complex scene with various objects, textures, and lighting and can also include references to assets “hosted elsewhere, property inheritance, and layering functionality” which allows non-destructive editing of a single scene with efficient asset re-use.

But in order for the USD to become the protocol powering the metaverse, it will need to evolve so that it can meet the needs of the metaverse.

Several stakeholders

They are many others who share the conviction that the USD has a major role to play in the coming metaverse. 

Will USD be the Standard Metaverse Protocol?

The notion has led to the formation of the Metaverse Standards Forum, a forum Nvidia and thousands of other companies are members of. This suggests strongly that the USD will be a foundation for interoperable virtual spaces and experiences.

Nvidia is developing a glTF interoperability that will allow glTF assets to be referenced directly by USD scenes. This, essentially means that users currently using glTF will be able take advantage of the composition and collaboration features of USD without altering their existing assets.

Its not just Nvidia backing the adoption of USD as the main metaverse protocol.

Khronos Group, the group backing the OpenXR standard, is also pushing to assemble other XR industry players to embrace interoperability standards for its “open and inclusive metaverse.”

Broad consensus

Metaverse Standards Forum was founded by platform holders, hardware companies, engine creators, and users, with participants including companies such as Adobe, Autodesk, Epic Games, Unity, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Otoy, Qualcomm, and Sony.

The founder’s forum will focus on “practical, actionable interoperability projects that can ‘move the needle’ on aspects of the metaverse that are needed by broad consensus.”

“We are ‘backing the open standard bricks’ for the metaverse, not ‘building the cathedral’,” the Khronos Group says.

The organisers of the metaverse forum say the group will “coordinate requirements and support for existing SDOs developing standards relevant to the metaverse,” with the Khronos Group acting as host.

The Khronos Group has made a name for itself for backing and organizing open standards such as the OpenXR, an open standard developed to make XR applications run across many different XR headsets without developers needing to build different versions of their applications for each headset.

/MetaNews.

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Metaverse

Who invented the Metaverse?

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Who invented the Metaverse?

The term “Metaverse” means different things to different people and has been aggressively overused in marketing campaigns for plain ol’ 3D games. But where does it originate?

The word “metaverse” is a combination of the prefix “meta,” which means “beyond” or “transcending,” and the word “universe,” which refers to everything that exists. The word has its roots in the popular novel Snow Crash, published in 1992, authored by Neal Stephenson, an American science-fiction author. 

The word has since been adopted by technology enthusiasts and futurists to refer to a potential future version of the internet that is fully immersive and three-dimensional.

In the book, the main character, Hiro Protagonist, delivers pizza to the Mafia controlling territory in what used to be the United States, and plugs into the Metaverse when he is not working.

The next internet?

Immersed in the metaverse, in this case a networked virtual reality where people appear as self-designed avatars,

Who invented the Metaverse?

Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash.

Hiro would engage in activities both mundane (conversation, flirting) and extraordinary (sword fights, mercenary, espionage). This world would be filled by cartoonish looking computer-generated figures.

Yet to others the metaverse is the next generation of the internet.

Now, the big names in technology are in a race to create the next version of the internet known as Web3, a concept for a decentralized iteration of the internet. Some others call it Web5. A lot of it will probably take place in the metaverse.

Like the internet, Stephenson’s Metaverse is a collective, interactive endeavour that is always on and is beyond the control of any one person.

As such, it is widely believed that the metaverse is being built by various players at the moment in the same way the internet was built.

The very first Metaverse

While Stephenson aptly coined the term metaverse in his famous book and his Hiro Protagonist was the first fictional character to plug into the metaverse, he was not the first person to envision VR. In reality, he did nothing more than re-imagine what a Harvard scientist and his team had actually experienced when they built a VR system 20 years earlier.

Ivan Sutherland, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University, had already designed a VR system in 1968, called ‘The Sword of Damocles’, widely considered to be the first augmented reality HMD system. 

Who invented the Metaverse?

Very early CGI: Stereoscopic head-mounted viewing apparatus without head tracking (known as “Stereoscopic-Television Apparatus for Individual Use” or “Telesphere Mask”).

Sutherland’s system displayed output in a stereoscopic display, depending on the position of the user’s gaze, and used head tracking. Its graphics were basic but demonstrated the concept of today’s virtual reality as subjects navigated the simple wireframe rooms.

“Metaverse” is a broad term

The term metaverse includes VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality), but can also mean other things. Remote-sensing and -controlling of avatars, for instance. Or neurally interconnected consciousnesses.

AR is arguably the easiest and quickest to adopt, not as prone to inducing motion-sickness as full-on VR. In AR the user experiences an overlay on reality – the screens add elements to or transforms the environment in front of the user. There are a growing number of applications in both VR, AR and in mixed setups. Finnish headset maker Varjo is an example of the latter.

In order to immerse into the metaverse, the user needs a VR headset. Although more than 400 million people have “used the metaverse” in some form or another, the VR headsets are still beyond the reach of many, with some going for up to $3,500. Prices will, however, come down and the metaverse will mean something to even more people.

The metaverse is seen stretching into nearly every industry including real estate, gaming, fashion, events, and education—thus attracting plenty of users along the way.

/MetaNews.

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Metaverse

Meta’s Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

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Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its metaverse unit Reality Labs and sees significantly wider operating losses going forward. But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets. 

To make the ambitious dream of creating a metaverse a reality, just about a year ago Facebook/Meta announced it was hiring 10,000 software engineers over the next five years – the biggest ever hire in tech history – to build its metaverse, a mix of reality, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) realms.

The technology giant’s valuation at the time was close to $1 trillion, a princely market capitalisation usually reserved for the US’ premier blue chip corporates like Apple.

“Digital goods will be an important way to express yourself in the metaverse and a big driver of the creative economy. I am excited to bring more brands and bring VR soon too,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

Yet barely a year after Mark Zuckerberg’s big Meta presentation, the company’s stock has plunged by more than 70%, bleeding investors billions.

Now, Meta is worth only $300 billion, just a third of its market value a year ago.

Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Analysts and industry experts say Zuckerberg’s fixation with the metaverse has come at a high price for the company.

“The obsession with the (metaverse) project has done tremendous harm to the brand,” CircleIt founder and CEO Art Shaikh tells MetaNews.

In the quarter to September, revenue came down 4% from $29 billion to $27.7 billion.

Meta’s results have raised questions on whether Zuckerberg’s all-in bet on the metaverse was the smartest play and whether its gamble on the future will pay off eventually.Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions“Meta’s results …was an absolute train wreck that speaks to pervasive digital advertising doldrums ahead for Zuckerberg & Co as they make the risky and head scratching bet on the metaverse,” Wedbush analysts Dan Ives said in its report.

Concerns have also been raised on whether Meta can transform itself into a virtual reality behemoth and power the company’s next phase of growth.

Analysts say such strategic pivots take a while for big tech companies to implement and reap financial benefits from in the near term.

“Every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst tells MetaNews.

Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its Reality Labs, its metaverse unit and sees significantly wider operating loss in fiscal year 2023 (FY23).

But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets. 

Even tech companies like Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have not been spared with top line earnings declining in the period to $54.5 billion from $56.3 billion.

What went wrong with the meta pivot?

“It was a matter of timing”, Kagan says.

“The metaverse was still in its early years and the marketplace of users and investors simply had no clue what to expect,” Kagan says.

“That is where Facebook or Meta was wrong. They moved too quickly. They jumped over too many important steps. That is why this company is stuck in the metaverse mud today.”

But Zuckerberg painted a picture of an entity holding a fort in the market. 

User engagement for its apps is at its peak, he says. A total of 3.7 billion people now use one of Meta’s apps monthly. The number of people using Facebook, Meta’s flagship application, is the highest it has ever been, he says.

Instagram has more than 2 billion monthly actives while Whatsapp, its messenger application service, has more than 2 billion daily actives.

Its Reels product, a video sharing service positioned to compete with Tik Tok that is integrated into the Facebook application, is also doing well, he added.

This number represents a 50% growth in the past six months, he said.

All the numbers look promising elsewhere except in Meta’s new baby, the Metaverse.

Horizon Worlds, the name of Meta’s new virtual space, slashed its target for monthly active users to only 280,000 monthly from an initial 500,000. In reality, the space is only attracting about 200,000 people at the time of writing.

Investors are getting increasingly impatient with Zuckerberg and his metaverse.

Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

What will it be? Facebook 2.0? Or something completely different?

While it generally takes longer in Silicon Valley to build a business, Wall Street tends to value businesses based on nearer returns rather than foggier forecasts that stretch out for years.

It’s a view Kagan shares too.

“However, every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Kagan says.

“Smartphones had been with us for more than a decade or two to one degree or another with Blackberry, Palm Pilot and others. The marketplace now understood the smartphone marketplace, so when the Apple iPhone and Google Android were released, they were an instant success.”

Even Zuckerberg realises this now.

“There is still a long road ahead to build the next computing platform, but we are clearly doing leading work here,” he said. “This is a massive undertaking and it will often take a few versions of each product before they become mainstream.”

If he gets it rights, he reckons it is going to be of “historic importance”, adding it will create an entirely new way humans interact with each other “as well as a foundation for the long term of our business.” 

Rumors of Zuckerberg stepping down

For the first time in years rumors that Zuckerberg could be made to walk the plank, have emerged as investor concerns rise with falling earnings.

Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Infinity, or a pair of glasses?

Meta’s director of communications, Andy Stone, made the unusual decision to publicly respond to unsubstantiated market rumors that claimed Zuckerberg could step down as the group’s CEO during 2023. 

In response to the rumor, Stone wrote on Twitter, “this is false.”

For FY23, Zuckerberg is being coy about the metaverse, preferring to focus on what he described as a “small number of high priority growth areas.”

This, he says, will involve working on the “AI discovery engine powering Reels”  and other “recommendation experiences, our ads and business messaging platforms and the metaverse.”

In a way, it is a return to the basics.

Also Meta is laying off 13% of its staff, or more than 11000 employees, Zuckerberg announced last week.

“Layoffs might appease investors for a bit, but the overall move away from the metaverse project and focusing on core revenue generating products will be the only way to save things,” Kagan concluded.

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