Parties interested in turning Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite buzzword into reality announced on Wednesday that they have formed the Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta is a founding member, naturally, and big tech names like Adobe, Microsoft, and Nvidia are also founding members. However, the initial membership notably lacks participation from Apple and Google.
The forum, according to today’s announcement, is intended to “promote the development of open standards for the metaverse.”
“The Forum will explore where the lack of interoperability is holding back metaverse deployment and how the work of standards development organizations (SDOs) defining and evolving the necessary standards can be coordinated and accelerated,” the group said in its announcement.
Other founding members include Adobe, Epic Games, Ikea, Qualcomm, Sony, XR Association and SDOs The Khronos Group, World Wide Web Consortium and Open Geospatial Consortium.
Apple, which is expected to release an AR headset by 2023, is not participating. Neither does Alphabet, owner of Google. Both parties have previously joined open industry groups, including Matter and FIDO, but neither has promoted the term “metaverse.”
Beyond its unannounced (but much-discussed) AR headset believed to be in development, CEO Tim Cook says Apple’s role in the Metaverse market is “a big question” in the earnings call of Apple for the first quarter of 2022 in January.
“We are always exploring new and emerging technologies…Currently, we have over 14,000 AR kit apps in the App Store, delivering amazing AR experiences to millions of people today,” said Cook when asked about Apple’s metaverse plans, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “We see a lot of potential in this space and are investing accordingly.”
Alphabet’s Google, meanwhile, has been tied to its own AR headset. And AR is a touted feature of various Google products, from Pixel phones to software.
Google also joined the VR Standards Initiative in 2016, as TechCrunch noted, alongside Facebook’s Oculus VR brand. The initiative was spearheaded by The Kronos Group, a nonprofit focused on emerging technologies that also hosts the Metaverse Standards Forum.
The new group offers free and open membership, so both companies can join the metaverse forum down the line. But with many questions surrounding the Metaverse – what it means and how it will be monetized and moderated – we’re not surprised that some big names in tech aren’t keen on signing up. There’s also the fact that Meta is adamant about using a term synonymous with its own brand.
These organizations will be deprived of “pragmatic, action-based projects,” like “implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tools to accelerate testing and adoption of metaverse standards,” according to the announcement. from the forum. The group also said it would work to develop “consistent terminology and deployment guidelines.”
The focus of the group will vary depending on membership, but potential topics offered are “assets and 3D rendering, human interface and interaction paradigms, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, content user-created, avatars, identity management, privacy and financial transactions”.
The Metaverse Standards Forum also highlighted potential areas of collaborative spatial computing, including augmented reality and virtual reality, of course, but also “photorealistic content creation, geospatial systems, content tooling for the end user, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physics simulation, online savings,” and more.
The forum plans to hold its first meeting in July.