When the Internet arrived, it caught a whole bunch of people sleeping. Even Microsoft was caught out of position, but Bill Gates immediately understood the risk and rallied the company to confront it, eventually becoming, for a time, the most powerful player.
The event enabled Google, Netflix, Amazon, and many other companies that didn’t exist before its birth, while Brick and Mortar companies that didn’t pivot to the new normal started to fail at scale.
We have another Internet event coming, the birth of the Metaverse or a Matrix-like Simulated environment that will even more deeply engage us. Much like we needed HTML for the Internet to assure website consistency allow browsers to work, we need something similar for this emerging virtual universe so that people can gain the same level of universal access they now enjoy with the Internet.
We now may have the HTML of the Multiverse, it is called Universal Scene Description (USD), and next week at Siggraph, we’ll get a sense of the progress beginning with the NVIDIA Keynote on Tuesday morning.
I was briefed on that keynote this afternoon, and it will be well worth watching. I can’t tell you what is in the keynote as that would ruin it for you, so let’s instead chat about how the multiverse will be used and how it will change the world much as the Internet did.
Building The Matrix
The concept of the Metaverse is very similar to the concept that was created in the movie “The Matrix” in that it will become a mix of things like Digital Twins, representing the natural world in simulation, and imagined things as Movie and TV producers increasingly see it as a low-cost path to create ever more realistic entertainment.
Benefits will include many lives saved because it is already being used to help with training programs for Autonomous cars and robotics. The first will massively reduce the number of automotive deaths and injuries, and the latter will allow robots to take humans for hazardous jobs.
Simulating the world will allow us to develop more effective ways of preventing things like forest fires and better model and anticipate where a disaster like a fire might spread with more accurate estimates of the resources needed to stop the fire.
The simulations will help develop more targeted responses to both manufactured and natural disasters while increasing our ability to forecast where those disasters might occur with ever more extensive and more accurate weather and geothermal models improving our prediction capabilities.
Microsoft has already showcased how their HoloLens could be used to explore Mars remotely. Still, we’ll be able to model the planet based on what the various Mars Rovers discover and potentially become better able to discover the likely hiding places of life and resources that might make eventual colonization practical.
I expect that the robots trained in this Mars virtual world will increasingly make it unnecessary for people to go there until it is far safer than it is now and allow these people to wait until a round trip was possible.
Over time we’ll have large displays in our homes looking out at real or imagined places as we interconnect the real world with the Metaverse. Someone will figure out how to monetize virtual metaverse adventures, allowing you to travel to emulations of the past, future, or imagined worlds initially in simulators and eventually from our own homes.
As emersion technology increases, eventually, we may be able to live in those worlds, providing an alternative for people who are badly injured or crippled to experience life as if these afflictions didn’t exist.
And finally, we’ll be able to simulate ourselves in these worlds so that a Digital Twin can remain to help our descendants or become a permanent NPC (Non-Player Character) in Metaverse-based video games.
At Siggraph next week, you’ll get a sense of how considerable this effort is. You’ll meet the major companies (many of them household names) driving this effort and get a feel for the companies missing this wave as they won’t be attending or presenting.
You’ll also get a feel of how close we are to an Internet-like revolution that could spin much of the tech industry like a top, much as the Internet did in the 1990s.
Siggraph is worth attending most years, but this year, it could be a corporate lifesaver.