4 things you need to know about the Metaverse this week

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  • This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse.
  • Below are ideas and opinions on how this emerging technology could transform the way we work, shop and spend our free time.

1. Meta to sell virtual clothes for real money

Facebook owner Meta Platforms is launching a digital clothing store where users can buy designer outfits for their avatars, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced.

Virtual outfits designed by fashion brands Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne will be available for purchase to begin with, Zuckerberg said, speaking in a live video stream with Instagram’s fashion boss.

A spokesperson for Meta said they will cost between $2.99 ​​and $8.99, much less than the actual outfits from these designers. Prada’s Matinee ostrich leather bag, for example, sells for $10,700. Zuckerberg said he hoped to turn the store into an open marketplace where developers could create and sell a wide range of digital clothing.

2. Some of the world’s biggest brands are joining forces on metaverse interoperability

Microsoft, Meta, and other tech giants battling to build the emerging concept of the metaverse have formed a group to foster the development of industry standards that would make nascent corporate digital worlds compatible with each other.

Metaverse Standards Forum (MSF) participants include many of the biggest companies working in the space, from chipmakers to gaming companies, as well as established standards bodies like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), said the group in a statement announcing its creation on June 21.

However, Apple is conspicuously absent from the membership list at the moment, and analysts expect it to become a dominant player in the race for the metaverse once it introduces a mixed reality headset this year or so. the next.

Gaming companies Roblox and Niantic were also not among the forum participants, nor were emerging crypto-based metaverse platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland.

Neil Trevett, an executive at chipmaker Nvidia who chairs the MSF, said in a statement to Reuters that any company is welcome to join the group, including participants from the crypto world.

3. Tencent forms ‘extended reality’ unit as metaverse race gains momentum

The Chinese Tencent Holdings has announced to its staff the formation of an “extended reality” unit, formally betting on the concept of a metaverse of virtual worlds. Reuters reported the announcement citing sources familiar with the matter.

The unit is responsible for developing the extended reality business for Tencent, including software and hardware, the sources said, adding that it will be led by Tencent Games Global Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Li Shen, and will be part of the company’s interactive entertainment. business group.

The unit was first formed this year but has remained shrouded in secrecy, according to the three sources. Extended reality is a term that refers to immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, which are considered the building blocks of the metaverse.

Tencent, China’s most valuable company, declined to comment.

4. Diversity, equity and inclusion should be the foundation of the metaverse

The Metaverse is still in its infancy, but there are already numerous reports of early users suffering from gender and racial harassment in virtual spaces.

Jane Lu, Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, analyzed the imperative of building a fair, secure and interoperable metaverse. Lu advocates for a fundamental approach to diversity and inclusion as developers build the metaverse and warns that a failure to address discrimination will have both social and economic costs.

“A metaverse platform that lacks inclusiveness can give new users a bad first impression. For example, if the first thing female users encounter is sexual harassment or rude comments about their gender, they may lose interest. to return to the platform in the future.”

The CTO of Blavity, an online media company for black millennial creators, is calling for greater representation at tech companies developing metaverse spaces. Jeff Nelson told CNBC ‘Do it‘ blog, “when you don’t have people at the table who have historically been harmed or abused, or who have to live with certain things in mind, then you’re not building platforms in a way that protects These persons.”

Experts believe the Metaverse will represent the next major computing platform, transforming consumer experience and business models across industries.

Fashion brands are an example. Over the years, apparel companies have perfected the design, manufacture, and distribution of apparel to anticipate consumer wants and needs based on seasonal changes. But today, most of their income is exceeded by the $3 billion in digital cosmetic item sales in Fortnite, which have cultural significance that extends far into the physical world.

This is one of the economic opportunities of the metaverse – the ability to “assetize” digital content, creating a digital ownership framework for users. If replicated at scale and across sectors, entire industries will be reshaped by shifts in their traditional value chains.

However, the promise rests on the advancement of several key technologies, including augmented, virtual and mixed reality (collectively known as XR), as well as blockchain, connected devices and artificial intelligence. How should they be governed in a way that promotes their economic benefits while protecting the safety, security and privacy of individuals?

The World Economic Forum brings together leading voices from the private sector, civil society, academia and government to answer this exact question. Over the next year, he will organize a multi-stakeholder community focused on metaverse governance and economic and social value creation.

It will recommend regulatory frameworks for good governance of the metaverse and explore how innovation and value creation can be enhanced for the benefit of society. Updates will be regularly published on the World Economic Forum website.

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