According to the World Economic Forum, a working metaverse has three key components: presence, interoperability, and standardization.
While virtual and augmented experiences get more immersive by the day, interoperability and standardization should be wired into the metaverse's DNA from day one to avoid silos and walled gardens. So how can we construct the foundation of an open, utopic metaverse in which the travel and hospitality industries can flourish without being paralyzed by the same old Web 2.0 paradigm?
In the metaverse, we are only bound by our creativity and the resources at our disposal. Because it is digital, anything can be created as long as we set our minds to it. After all, in the digital world, the laws of physics do not apply, even if we interact with the physical world. As such, in the metaverse, you can be who you want to be, create what you want, where you want, for whom you want, and how you want. This complete freedom for creators will undoubtedly lead to some fascinating experiences and has the potential to drive significant economic growth, but only if we create an open metaverse.
A metaverse owned and controlled by a centralized entity, as portrayed in the books Snow Crash and Ready Player One, would only result in a more powerful BigTech instead of bringing prosperity to everyone. To achieve an open metaverse, we need interoperability, decentralization and self-sovereignty of identity and reputation to ensure we have full control over our data, digital assets and identity. Without these characteristics, the metaverse will be nothing more than a 3D version of today's centralized internet, something we should prevent at all costs.
Open metaverse for an open decentralized industry is the way forward in future and is a necessity to be in market and ready for the next generation.
Our next generation is fast and they are the consumers. They are born and brought up in this era of metaverse and are already a part of that thought process for them this is the way. So this is an unavoidable truth. Every industry has to catch this train.
I think the answer is the same to the question : "An open internet for an open, decentralized industry" and Web3 is trying to address it.
So, rather than looking for a metaverse specific reply, we should treat the problem as a common one (i.e. the metaverse is a subset of the web).
So, how? The usual stuff:
- not your keys, not your account
- Digital ownership of platforms (e.g. https://twitter.com/LensProtocol) and assets (tokens, NTFs)
- More non-nerds compatible wallets
and so on.
In other words, this is not the travel industry open metaverse battle.
It's the Web3 vs Web2 battle.
The hospitality Metaverse should be addressed as reality in aspects of users' security and well-being while enforcing common social behaviors from the real world.
The strength of the Metaverse comes from its ability to "materialize" yourself anywhere, anytime, and, of course, experience all you can imagine and beyond that.
But we should not be mistaken - behind every avatar, there is a human being, and we must monitor and enforce interactions to ensure they don't harm anyone.
Like In the real world, people will never be fully protected - but we, as creators, will make sure that the VR environment is harmless, + we must create and use tools to monitor suspicious activities.
There are 2 major adoption hurdles for the Metaverse: hardware & interoperability.
1- Hardware: most Metaverses that run on crypto (Decentraland, Sandbox, etc) require a powerful computer, that barely anyone has or can afford. They are akin to video games with limited graphics, so their mass adoption is very unlikely.
Another entry point to the Metaverse is the VR headset. Companies such as Meta and ByteDance are coming up with affordable headsets, where under 500 dollars people can experience immersive Metaverse experiences. Overall, the target audience is still small.
2- Interoperability: what works in one Metaverse does not work in another. If purchasing items with crypto allows for digital ownership in the Metaverse, there are still many different blockchains. What if I bought a Gucci bag on Polygon and I go to a Metaverse that runs on Solana?
Crypto or no crypto, there is also the graphics issue. If I buy a voxelated item in the Sandbox game, I won't be able to take it to a Metaverse that runs on Unreal Engine.
So for now, to each their own: hospitality companies can start creating experiences, but they have to choose their platforms, choose their mediums, choose their audience. We are still very far away from the kind of Metaverse that we all dream of!
With Presence and Interoperability being a given in the web3 space, I believe standardization remains a variable with certain standards being a must and others coming with the evolution of the Metaverse.
A certain layer of decentralization is built into every Metaverse as these ecosystems are typically on the Blockchain; However, contrary to popular belief, the mere presence of a project on the blockchain does not make it decentralized, what makes a project truly decentralized is Governance. Governance is what determines how transparent the Metaverse will be, what kind of Data the users choose to share (if any), what level of freedom a user is given within the space, and most importantly how the users can create value; since after-all, web3 is the evolution of the internet into a creator's economy.
In my opinion, with proper governance and by quality brands only being affiliated with responsibly governed Metaverses over the next few years, we can drive standardization throughout the entire WEB3 industry. Thus, making the Metaverse as Open and as Utopian as it can be. Creating a valuable experience for the Travel and Hospitality industry as well as every other industry involved in this Tech Revolution.
To make the space open, frictionless and safe we need experts and builders aligned regarding what's the Metaverse and what's the difference between Web3 and Web 3.0 in order to walk together towards Metaverse mass adoption.
'Metaverse Standard Forum' and 'OMA 3' have been created to discuss and define open standards for the Metaverse. I am please to see many organizations joining towards a common goal. I think this is a great first step, however to make the space open and foster the development of interoperability standards, a common vision of the Metaverse must be first developed and consequently properly shared and integrated to the masses.
Quoting Robby Yung “There is no metaverse without Web3, because you need to have that transaction layer so that you have interoperability between content and you can bring it from place to place”. Therefore, to have an open Metaverse we must make it borderless, frictionless, meaningful and trust worthy by the masses. There is where the concept of 'community' gains power with Web3.
We should always remember that the soul of Web3 are the 'communities' with decisional power, being owners and co-creators of the space, OUR space. Communities will drive us through mass adoption.
For me, it is essential to define the Metaverse. We often see this as something blurry we aim for, but some of us think a virtual conference can be it, while others believe it must be a Ready player one experience.
I am strongly in favor of interoperability and breaking down silos. But when it comes to the metaverse, I can imagine multiple different worlds where interoperability or standardization is not a mandatory requirement. Imagine a work-life oriented Metaverse, where you can embrace a professional persona and attend meetings, job interviews, etc. Then a different one where you can easily travel around the globe and explore real or artificial places. Next, more gaming oriented where you want to transform into a knight or a unicorn and do some role-playing.
I personally want to be able to easily enter all of them (little to no barriers of entry), but I don't need a single layer on top of that, it can be individual worlds with different focuses, similar to today's social networks.
Silos have been amongst us for hundreds of years. If anything, we could say they are part of human nature. Have you ever imagined a world where we all spoke the same language? I often dream about travelling the globe being able to communicate with every single living organism in this planet, how much wisdom could be shared!
You may think I digress, so let's put language aside. Religion, politics, social classes, heck… even NFTs are used to identify groups with similar ideas or interests. Add the insatiable need for profit in every endeavour and the result is an undeniable path towards segregation.
Breaking paradigms in society is what it would take for new structures to be formed: from competition to cooperation, from closed to open source, from profit to non-for-profit (touché! – are you money driven?). Presence will come through technological innovation. In a utopian, cooperative environment, standardization takes place naturally as we all share and adopt best practices for the whole, with interoperability following suit.
At Vault Hill, the world's first human-centric metaverse, although naturally victim of the same societal features, we reserved The Hills to work towards interoperability. Join us in this exciting journey towards an open metaverse!
The metaverse is a vast virtual world that involves a growing variety of elements, such as avatars, architects, fashion, music, marketing, and even hardware. Thus, it is almost impossible that all those things will be provided by one company. Interoperability will come naturally in the metaverse.
In the history of computing and technology, competition has always been between an open system and a closed system. So, for laptops and computers, Microsoft represents the open system and Apple represents the closed system. As for mobile phones, Android would be an example of an open system and Apple would be a closed system as well.
When it comes to the Metaverse and its utilities in industry and all other sectors an open system is highly inevitable as interoperability and decentralization are within the DNA of the Metaverse.
Neither Microsoft nor Samsung nor Apple is losing. Each system and company has its audience and a huge base of users. It will highly depend on the use case and the user`s requirements. For the time being the infrastructure and development are highly in favor of an open, interoperable, decentralized system. Creating a closed system will have its limitations and might undermine the core idea of the Metaverse. The ability to smoothly use your digital assets, and different types of software and perform operations in various Metaverse platforms is crucial. The industry is rapidly developing, and the users of the Metaverse will decide which system will dominate.
Since the Metaverse is a convergence of many businesses and innovations the biggest challenge is creating a standard that allows interoperability between multiple platforms, coming from different industries, which already have a high degree of complexity.
Without interoperability I see no difference between a fictional video game character and a Metaverse avatar. There should be the possibility to carry your identity and possessions over from one platform to another, regardless of the device or the platform. Otherwise, the consumer is not incentivized to invest in something that lives locally, even if it is actually owned.
In the near future, I hope to see more brands and companies joining groups like the Metaverse Standard Forum, where thousands of companies, including Google, Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia, discuss and foster interoperability standards for a truly open Metaverse.
Ultimately, the success of a standard and interoperable Metaverse lies in the willingness of companies to engage with each other. Traditionally tech companies guard their innovation and development closely to ensure commercial success and foster user loyalty. However, in order to allow sectors such as travel and hospitality to flourish, Metaverse companies are inevitably required to adopt a more flexible and open collaboration.
We often hear that the more we increase the virtual experience and interaction possibilities, the more people feel the need for human contact.This should make us reflect on the future of the Metaverse. I believe that we cannot and should not aspire to replicate what we are experiencing, but must start from a new idea of the 'virtual'. An immersive, exchange and interaction experience that allows all users to feel immersed in a reality that is closer to the physical world than to the digital one. How can we do this? By offering users and industries more and more tools to break down barriers. Above all the barrier of physical contact with the Metaverse. Meta estimates that in 10 to 15 years it will be possible to access the Metaverse through simple eyeglasses. This is an example of the first possible big step towards a disruptive technology that allows the hospitality industry to provide customers with new experiences that are not just emulations of the outdated Web2. We often talk about how we need to move beyond Web2 but are we ready to revolutionise all the tools in our routine? I believe there is no better time than now!
It is true that what the Metaverse aims for is standardization and interoperability, meaning that users should be able to travel from one Metaverse to another seamlessly, using its same configuration (avatar, assets and wallet) and that the technology we use for it has to share minimum technical characteristics that allows us to work in them. Complex concepts like "Decentralization", "Cloud computing", "Blockchains" or "NFTs" plays a role here.
Currently there is no real decentralization in this early stage of Metaverses, and cloud computing (centralized data storage in cloud providers) are key for the virtual spaces to function on devises. Meanwhile, we have the Blockchain, luckily contributing into where we are heading, Decentralization. This connects to another complex term that is notoriously growing that is “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations”. DAOs are a group of people that come together and work towards a shared goal and they are pushing for the use of Web3 to have public ownership.
There is no easy way of talking about this, but public ownership and the power of the community is the main pilar for the construction of any possible open Metaverse.
Web3 should be empowering every individual to have more personalized experience in the digital world. We have seen how web2 changed and revolutionized borderless interaction between user. We exchanged information, shared vision, and formed remote collaboration. In web3, we will welcome an era where it wasn't just digital info/data, ads preference, or web cookies. Web3 era will be an enormous growth of digital civilization, metaverse and NFT are just a small beginning.
It's like finding new revelation. Web3 will drastically change our perspective in life. It will be totally different gameplay and status quo. We see how web2 brings revolution, and also destruction to some old business models. Web3 will bring more: something greater than we can imagine now, but our logic and intuition believe it will happen someday/somewhere.
Let's believe in our intuition, keep building, keep exploring. It's like digging gold in the early phase of America civilization. Web3 will be favoring the true believers, the one that keep holding to their intuition, and keep building the values until the momentum come. Be it crypto, be it defi, gamefi, metaverse, virtual goods, phigital, etc. Web3 is bigger, and we will be the winners.
To get interoperability we should accept standardization, to get standardization we should accept centralization.
Let's start from this thought: are we willing to partially give up the decentralized characteristic of the Web3 in order to unlock the full potential of the Metaverse? If we are answering no to this question, we are putting the technology ahead of innovation..and that's wrong.
Finding the right balance between centralization and decentralization is one of the most promising way to create metaverse which are working together. We can do so by defining on a more centralized way rules and standards exploiting Web3 "tools" such as:
- NFTs, which are the best way to certificate each resident of the metaverse and the ownership of things cross-metaverse;
- Blockchain protocol to automatically convert all that is graphic between different styles;
If this looks like challenging is because it is so! There are no quick wins, everyone should work together, right now, to define the basic tech rules to guarantee the long-term success of the metaverse.
Otherwise, we will be just resident in X different worlds, with different avatars and the same old Web2 experience.
I'd say an open metaverse currently indeed seems utopic and most of the metaverse incarnations that are live now (e.g. the Sandbox, Somnium, Voxels, Decentraland, Journee, or Spatial) are by no means open and interoperable ecosystems.
One of the primary reasons why in the nearest future things are unlikely to change is that there is no incentive to undermine the status quo. Think with me - all of these projects are capable of having their own functional economy (a feature referred to by McKinsey & Co.). Spaces like DCL and SANDBOX monetize on transactions of LAND and other NFTs. Creating an open world could damage their revenue streams and deem their project unsustainable - why would they take that risk?
The answer might be: "for the sake of the idea of an open, inclusive, and sustainable metaverse." Unfortunately, many people were drawn into the web3 space by a vision of extreme wealth coming from trading crypto assets, and not so many idealists who'd be willing to freely give just to create something meaningful and inclusive - like an open metaverse. It doesn't mean that such people do not exist, just that the ratio is very disproportional, so an open metaverse will have to wait.
I am not sure that a revolution will be needed to have presence, interoperability, and standardization in the Metaverse. Today in the mobile world there is no interoperability at all, but apps allow us to be present in the same digital context.
In 2012, artist Thea-Mai Baumann signed up on IG with the @metaverse handle. Just days after Facebook rebranding (9Y later!), she had been blocked for "pretending to be someone else." It's clear we need a new tech-agnostic mindset if we don't want to be kept hostage of a dystopian, advertising-fueled XR nightmare (check the Hyper-Reality movie for visual reference).
Most metaverses provide immersive and fun experiences, but they also prevent users from escaping. They're 3D gilded cages, intentionally built to lock users in.
There is no metaverse. If anything, what we have today is a MULTIVERSE. And that's bad news.
Interoperability may not be a technical metaverse requirement per se, but it should be. OMA3, O3DF, MSF, etc, are doing a great job in discussing standards, however, we still haven't fixed some of the Web 2.0 interoperability issues (your iMessage app is pretty useless on an android phone), let alone metaverse's.
It's a nuanced concept, and to a certain extent, we don't even need full interoperability. We may be ok with not being able to wear our Chewbacca skins during the virtual Monday meeting with our boss, but when it comes to metaverse interoperability, that's where I draw the line.