Parties interested in turning Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite buzzword into reality announced Wednesday that they have formed the Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta is a founding member, naturally, and big tech companies like Adobe, Microsoft, and Nvidia are also founding members. However, the initial membership is noticeably lacking in involvement from Apple and Google.
The forum, according to today’s announcement, is intended to “foster the development of open standards for the metaverse.”
“The Forum will explore where a lack of interoperability is holding back the deployment of the metaverse and how the work of Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) defining and developing 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 SDO 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 is Alphabet, which owns Google. Both sides have joined open industry groups before, including Matter and FIDO, but neither has promoted the phrase “metaverse.”
Beyond its unannounced (but much-discussed) AR headsets said to be in development, CEO Tim Cook said Apple’s role in the metaverse market is “a big question” in the first-quarter earnings call. Apple’s 2022 release in January.
“We’re always exploring new and emerging technologies… Right now, we have over 14,000 AR kit apps on the App Store, providing incredible AR experiences for millions of people today,” Cook said when was 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.”
Meanwhile, Alphabet’s Google has been linked to a new AR headset of its own. And AR is a promoted feature of various Google products, from Pixel phones to software.
Google also joined the VR Standards Initiative in 2016, as noted by TechCrunch, along with Facebook’s then-Oculus VR brand. The initiative was led by The Kronos Group, a nonprofit organization focused on emerging technologies that also hosts The Metaverse Standards Forum.
The new group offers free and open membership, so both companies could join the metaverse forum in the future. But with many questions surrounding the metaverse, what it means, and how it will be monetized and moderated, it’s no surprise that some big names in tech aren’t eager to sign on. There is also the fact that Meta insists on using a term that is synonymous with its own brand.
Those organizations will miss out on “pragmatic, action-based projects” such as “implementation prototypes, hackathons, plugfests, and open source tools to accelerate testing and adoption of metaverse standards,” according to the forum’s announcement. The group also said it will work to develop “consistent terminology and implementation guidelines.”
The group’s focus will vary by membership, but the potential topics proposed are “3D assets and rendering, human interface and interaction paradigms, such as AR and VR, user-created content, avatars, identity management, privacy and financial transactions” .
The Metaverse Standards Forum also highlighted potential areas of collaborative spatial computing, including AR and VR, of course, but also “photorealistic content authoring, geospatial systems, end-user content tools, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physical simulation, online economies,” and more.
The forum expects to hold its first meeting in July.