The establishment of an expert focus group by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to work towards international technical standards for the metaverse is a significant step in the development of this emerging technology. The metaverse, a virtual world that is accessible through the internet, has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact, work, and play.
One of the key challenges facing the metaverse is the lack of standardization. Without standards, it is difficult for different companies and organizations to create compatible systems, leading to a fragmented market that is less efficient and less user-friendly. This can also limit innovation and market entry, making it more difficult for new companies to enter the market and for existing companies to expand.
“Standards development must be driven by everyone that will rely on the resulting standards,” said Seizo Onoe, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “This focus group will support our work together to envision technology use cases for the metaverse, determine the associated technical requirements, and develop standards that help meet these requirements on a global scale.” He had said.
The ITU’s focus group offers a venue to start laying the groundwork for technical standards that can help create an underlying technology and business ecosystem that encourages market entry, innovation, and cost efficiency. This will make it easier for companies and organizations to create compatible systems, leading to a more efficient market that is more user-friendly. Additionally, by creating a more open market, the focus group can help to promote innovation and lower barriers to market entry.
The metaverse is expected to be a huge market with some industry analysts projecting its value to reach nearly $800 billion by 2024. The development of standards will help to ensure that this market is open and accessible to a wide range of companies, promoting competition and innovation. This, in turn, will lead to better products and services for consumers, as well as a more sustainable market for companies. This is an important development for the future of this emerging technology.
The metaverse is a rapidly growing field, and with its potential to revolutionize the way we interact, work and play, it is no surprise that many companies are investing heavily in this technology. However, with significant investment from major organizations like Facebook, there is a risk of these companies establishing a monopoly in the metaverse.
Meta (formerly Facebook), for example, has announced its intentions to create a metaverse platform that will allow users to interact with each other in a virtual world. Meta has invested a total of $10 billion into acquiring and developing both hardware and software that will be used to provide VR capabilities within the metaverse. Microsoft is taking steps into the metaverse. In January 2022, the company announced that it was acquiring Activision Blizzard, the enormous video game developer and publisher, as a segue into securing a major spot in the metaverse. In November 2021, Unity Software bought over Weta Digital, a digital VFX company, in a deal that valued the former at over $1.6 billion. Many are puzzled why Unity’s largest-ever deal concerned buying a VFX developer, however, the reply appears to lie inside the company’s focal point on the metaverse. With these companies’ vast resources and user base, they are well-positioned to dominate the market, making it difficult for other companies to compete. This could lead to a situation where the metaverse becomes a closed ecosystem, controlled by a small number of powerful companies, which could limit innovation and limit user choice.
This is where the ITU’s early intervention comes in. By establishing an expert focus group to work towards international technical standards for the metaverse, the ITU is creating a platform for collaboration between different companies, organizations and experts. This will help to ensure that the metaverse is an open and accessible space, where a wide range of companies can compete and innovate. This will help to democratize the space, ensuring that no single company or organization has too much control over the metaverse.
Additionally, the ITU’s focus group can help to create a more level playing field for small and medium-sized companies and startups, which may not have the resources to compete with larger companies. This could lead to a more diverse metaverse ecosystem, where a wider range of voices and perspectives are represented.
The metaverse is a rapidly growing field with a lot of potentials, but there is a risk of a monopoly by a few companies. The ITU’s early intervention in creating an expert focus group to establish international technical standards for the metaverse is crucial in ensuring that the metaverse is an open and accessible space.
ITU brings together a global membership of 193 Member States and over 900 member companies, universities, and international and regional organizations to work on issues such as technical standardization. The metaverse focus group will be active for one year and will conduct “pre-standardization” work as a basis for developing new ITU standards. “The establishment of this focus group is very important to define in a timely manner the standards that contribute to a secure and interoperable metaverse and enable growth and prosperity,” said Abdurahman M. Al Hassan, Chairman of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group from the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) of Saudi Arabia.