The metaverse—like life—can only be understood backward, but must be lived forward. Better, therefore, to extrapolate from current technology trends rather than invoke a vision of the endpoint.
A defining element of the metaverse is spatial computing, the digital representation of three-dimensional physical environments. Today this is variously constrained on five dimensions:
- Need for high-speed hardware and fast data networks.
- Evolution from monocular (screen) to stereoscopic (hologram, goggles).
- Evolution of avatars from cartoonish dolls to fully-realized, empathetic representations of people.
- Ability of virtual spaces to accommodate many participants simultaneously.
- Embedding digital objects in the user’s physical world.
Each platform does a better job in some dimensions than others (compare Zoom, Horizon, and Spatial). All operate within the envelope defined by these constraints. These are therefore the five vectors along which spatial computing will evolve.