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Metaverse Standards Forum

  • 09 Jul 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Metaverse, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality

For Mains: Metaverse Standards Forum, Need of Interoperability in Metaverse

Why in News?

Recently, various brands gathered for the founding of the Metaverse Standards Forum for the development of interoperability standards to drive the growth of the metaverse.

What is Metaverse?

  • The metaverse is not a new idea, science fiction writer Neal Stephenson coined the term in 1992, and the concept is commonplace among video game companies.
  • Metaverse is the next version of the Internet focused on social connection.
    • It can be defined as a simulated digital environment that uses Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and blockchain, along with concepts from social media, to create spaces for rich user interaction mimicking the real world.
  • It can be imagined as a 3D virtual world, with ever-evolving aspects which are collectively shared by its inhabitants - a virtual world with real-time events and an online infrastructure.
  • In theory, it encapsulates everything that’s happening into the real world and will bring real-time events and updates going forward. The user exists in a virtual world without borders.

What is the Metaverse Standards Forum?

  • About:
    • The concept of the metaverse has yet to be fully established, but interest in virtual and augmented realities fast-tracks the growth of various metaverse projects.
    • In light of the growing anticipation for the metaverse, Metaverse Standards Forum was established “to foster the development of open standards for the metaverse”.
      • "Open Standards" are standards made available to the general public and are developed (or approved) and maintained via a collaborative and consensus driven process. "Open Standards" facilitate interoperability and data exchange among different products or services and are intended for widespread adoption.
    • The internet is interoperable through the power of HTML, the metaverse also requires a similar interface for users to navigate between virtual worlds freely.
  • Objectives:
    • It aims to analyze the interoperability necessary for running the metaverse.
      • Interoperability is the driving force for the growth and adoption of the open metaverse.
    • It will focus on pragmatic, action-based projects such as implementation prototyping, hackathons, plugfests, and open-source tooling to accelerate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards.
    • It will also develop consistent language and deployment guidelines to expand the online universe.

What is the Need of Interoperability of Metaverse?

  • Interoperability equips the metaverse with support for the different features and activities across projects.
  • This continuity is essential in generating a fluid user experience from one metaverse project to another.
  • With open interoperability standards and guidelines to follow, companies can launch fully interoperable projects, allowing them to integrate their programming interfaces with other projects.
  • There has to be a set of commonly agreed upon protocols to make the metaverse work, just like how Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) enabled the Internet to go live four decades ago.
    • Such protocols help us in connecting to a WiFi network from home and office without changing our devices.
  • They are a result of open standards. The potential of the metaverse will be best realised only if it is built on open standards.
  • Proponents of the metaverse call it the future of the Internet with 3D at its core. And to fully simulate the digital world, 3D interoperability has to be met.

What can be India’s Role in Building Metaverse?

  • India-Primed for the Metaverse:
    • Since 2015, India has risen almost 40 places in the Global Innovation Index, now ranking 46th in the world.
    • India has a thriving culture of entrepreneurship, which has recently experienced significant growth.
    • This environment is bolstered by a set of favourable consumer trends, including rising disposable income, increasing smartphone adoption and affordable mobile data.
  • Emerging Digital Infrastructure:
    • The last decade has seen the creation of India Stack, which is a combination of technology projects, including the national digital identification and payments infrastructure, that together heralded a new era of financial inclusion in the country.
    • India’s plans to use blockchain applications for e-governance included a proposal for a blockchain-backed Digital Rupee, to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India from 2022-23.
    • The government has also announced that it will conduct spectrum auctions to facilitate rollout of 5G mobile services, which should accelerate demand for cloud applications – including those for gaming and the metaverse.
  • The Evolving Regulatory Landscape:
    • While the technical, demographic and policy foundations for the metaverse appear to be present in India, there remains the operational challenge of building the metaverse.
    • If India is to take a leading role, deal flows in the private sector will need to accelerate.
    • The latest Union Budget levies a 30% tax on income from transfers of Virtual Digital Assets (VDAs), which could include cryptocurrencies and potentially Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
      • While the tax would imply recognition of crypto as an asset that can be regulated, it does not legalise crypto ownership, which can be done through due legislation.
    • Beyond crypto, the metaverse also raises policy questions of how privacy and security should be addressed.
      • Online risks may be exacerbated in the metaverse, where unwanted contact could become more intrusive and pervasive.
    • Governance mechanisms for virtual worlds would need to be supported with strengthening and scaling efforts to promote digital literacy, safety and wellbeing so that participants can engage meaningfully in online communities while consciously navigating harmful content and behaviours.

Source: TH

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