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Metaverse Must Be Interoperable, Human, Hackl Says


The Metaverse, once considered an experimental, demiurgic dream of many tech enthusiasts and companies, is now being realised as it slowly takes shape over the years to become a fully-fledged system for spatial communications. The new platform will serve billions as the next iteration of the Internet and is set to initiate profound changes in how people communicate, socialise, and work.

Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer for Journey, Author, Keynote Speaker, and Godmother of the Metaverse, discussed with XR Today her views on the Metaverse and how emerging technologies are set to impact social interactions, business, and the future of humanity.

What is the Metaverse?

Speaking on her definition of the Metaverse, Hackl stated it was about “virtual shared experiences that happen in virtual spaces, but also in the physical world.”

The Metaverse, a merger between the internet and spatial computing, would incorporate several key emerging technologies such as the blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and edge computing, and non-fungible tokens, among others, she explained.

Speaking on interoperability and the Metaverse’s creation, Hackl stressed that the Metaverse was “not just one company” but developers and creatives from across the industry, including XR startups, NFT marketplaces, Metaverse platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite, and many others would contribute.

She continued, explaining what the Metaverse indicated for humanity,

“I think there is anthropologically a sea change [and] shift, in the sense that if we fully converge the virtual and physical, what does that mean for work? What does that mean for how we socialise? There are anthropological questions that we should get ahead of and start to have conversations about”

She added she saw a future with wearable technologies, where people would move away from “our phones into glasses” to view data, volumetric video, and other immersive content.

She added,

“I think the future is less Ready Player One, and potentially more Pokemón Go if I needed to use an analogy”

AR? VR? What and Who Will Lead the Charge?

When asked by XR Today which immersive technologies would dominate the market, as well as the most important use cases to build, Hackl stated that accessibility would be “at the centre of it creating a future for everyone.”

Brands and companies would need to learn the value of such immersive technologies as they developed customer journeys in the Metaverse, she said.

Speaking on avatars and virtual fashion technologies currently offered as new product services, she cited a Forbes article written in 2020 explaining how avatars would allow users to explore digital identities.

In her 2020 article, she quoted Ryan Gill, Co-Founder and CEO of Crucible, who explained how Direct-to-Avatar (D2A) business models sold goods and products directly to avatars to bypass supply chain management, namely in “social or competitive virtual environments like games or open worlds where consumers project themselves as an avatar.”

She concluded in her thoughts with XR Today that numerous trends in serious gaming would continue to shape the development of the Metaverse, namely after Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in January in a massive $67 billion USD takeover.

Other issues in XR included data privacy and rights, due to headsets and devices collecting biometric data, eye-tracking, gates, and voice, which she stated “keeps me up at night” over concerns of how and where companies would store consumer data.

She explained the need for dialogue on XR standards, stating,

“Having really difficult conversations right now is what we need to do, because there will be challenges we don’t even know, which are going to come up that will challenge society. If we start to have some of those very difficult conversations in tech right now, I think we will find them important”

The news comes after Hackl recently rang in the Nasdaq stock exchange later in June, both in the physical world and the Metaverse, with CNBC’s Jim Cramer joining for the historic event.

She explained at the time in a Linkedin post how her work with Journey aims to “create meaningful experiences for real people” and “build [the Metaverse] and create together.”

Hackl also collaborates with the Future of XR Association’s Advisory Council (XRAC), which aims to outline best practices and use cases for the industry as it develops into an interoperable, open Metaverse.

She joined the company’s steering committee in March along with representatives from Google, Meta Platforms, HTC VIVE, Accenture, and others to create a working roadmap to the new digital frontier.



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