It has been the Mobile of the metaverse. The great event in Barcelona is known as the mobile congress, but in reality we have seen more laptops and connected glasses than smartphones. If years ago it was 5G or artificial intelligence, in 2022 the word on everyone’s lips is metaverse. AND everything we have seen at Mobile World Congress 2022 about the metaverse has left us very cold.
The metaverse has been around for many years. Virtual environments like Fortnite, Minecraft or the mythical Second Life are some examples. But now, driven by the rise of virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D, we have seen this concept in every corner. We’ve scoured MWC 2022 for the latest metaverse news and this is what we’ve found.
From Telefónica to SK Telecom: operators join the metaverse train
We knew that Telefónica was planning to bet on the metaverse, but at this MWC 2022 they have confirmed that they do not want to miss this train. Álvarez-Pallete’s company has announced an alliance with Meta for the creation of the Metaverse Innovation Hub in Madrid. Not content with this movement, the Spanish operator has created a scale copy of the physical stand of the fair itself, but in the metaverse.
Telefónica’s virtual stand has the different demo areas and allows you to arrange a guided tour. If you are curious, you can access it from this link. The metaverse created for the occasion of Telefónica allows you to choose an avatar and move freely around that stand. Very much in the style of what Second Life allowed at the time. With the particularity that beyond the improvements of the passing of the years, Telefónica’s metaverse does not offer any particular novelty. It is still a demonstration, but the result seems to have been created in a hurryonly with the aim of being able to arrive in time to show it at MWC 2022.
Another operator that has focused its strategy on the metaverse during MWC 2022 is SK Telecom. The Korean company had a stand with different attractions related to this metaverse. And we say attractions because it almost seemed like a theme park, with its ‘up and down’ along with virtual reality, a virtual reality concert area and large LEDs with moving avatars.
The objective is to publicize the new Ifland platform, where users can access different virtual worlds with different avatars and later use services such as Social VR to access that same world from virtual reality glasses.
The SK Telecom booth is probably the best to get an idea of the current hype about the metaverse. Lots of fireworks colorful avatars that can be customized with up to 800 items and virtual environments with capacity for up to 130 people. A virtual world with many social elements, with the addition that in addition to a mobile application or a website, it is also possible to access that world from virtual reality glasses to improve immersion.
“The metaverse is not just virtual reality and 3D. This is for the full experience, but it starts in two dimensions and with normal screens,” explains Michaël Trabbia, CTO of Orange. The operators have been protagonists in this MWC with their commitment to the metaverse, understanding it as a technology where the bandwidth needed to function will be multiplied.
Consulting firm Accenture also focused its booth on the metaverse, anticipating that by 2028, the metaverse market will account for more than $810 billion. His proposal since 2020 is a business metaverse ‘Nth Floor’ where companies can meet remotely and participate immersively.
What we have seen in this MWC 2022 is that still missing a great metaverse use case. If we look at the Telefónica, it was practically deserted and that was just the moment of the presentation. At the moment the metaverse is very focused on enterprise environments, but they are not attractive enough for us to see mass adoption by consumers.
What new technologies will facilitate the expansion of the metaverse
Even the president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, took advantage of MWC 2022 to announce his plans for the metaverse, among others. Dozens of companies at the congress had the word metaverse on their stand, but more difficult has been finding innovations and technologies that help expand the metaverse.
One of the manufacturers that has told us about the metaverse from a technical side and not from the creation of virtual environments is Qualcomm. In addition to its Snapdragon Spaces platform, at MWC 2022 they have shown us several demonstrations to optimize the latency of virtual and augmented reality devices through 5G. And it is that in the proper functioning of this connectivity is one of the keys to making the experience of the metaverse adequate.
Qualcomm explains that they have opened a new research center in France, in addition to the one in San Diego, where they will experiment with this technology. Connectivity is also the aspect that the startup KREEMO is working on, with an antenna with 360º coverage optimized for the metaverse. It’s the marketing stuff, what could simply be called an “antenna with better transmission capacity”, now incorporate the metaverse tagline as ‘gimmick‘ to attract attention. Beyond that, welcome technical improvements in telecommunications.
Another approach to improving the metaverse is that of way we have to access those virtual environments. There are many possibilities here. The most obvious are from a computer or mobile, as if it were an application. There are also virtual reality glasses like the Oculus Quest. The next step would be augmented reality glasses like the OPPO Air Glass, to project some virtual effects on a real background. But for now they fall short.
Related to this augmented reality we have the work of the Spanish company Increase Solutions, which in addition to creating content, offers screens where volumetric and stereoscopic technology has been applied to view 3D images without the need for glasses, which also react to the movements of the user’s hand through motion sensors.
When we talk about the metaverse, virtual reality almost always comes to mind, but Other technologies that seemed forgotten, such as 3D, could also benefit again if this trend of virtual worlds continues to expand.
And speaking of recovering lost glories; HTC’s case is very striking. After trying it with the blockchain, the Taiwanese manufacturer is now testing it with the metaverse. According to Digitimes, HTC will launch a high-end mobile with an eye to the metaverse. At MWC 2022 we were able to visit the HTC stand where, in addition to showing us their VIVE Flow glasses, their new strategy also had a great presence ‘live’with which they will focus on creating experiences for the metaverse.
Use cases: monologues, company dinners or touring the Louvre
“The metaverse is essentially games.” It is the answer given by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. The same Microsoft that during MWC 2022 taught us the possibilities of using its mixed reality glasses. Going from a specialized ‘Second Life’ to a virtual world that attracts users of all kinds is not easy. During this MWC 2022 we have spoken with multiple companies that have explained to us what they use the metaverse for.
One of them is VRHispaverso, a community specialized in virtual reality that has decided to create four virtual environments to offer them to companies and hold different events in them. As which? For example a company dinner, where people located remotely can also feel involved. Another idea they have applied is a virtual tour of a newly built building; Instead of showing a map, they can directly make those interested walk through the future building themselves. Finally they explain to us the realization of a monologue in the metaverse.
As explained by Hispaverso, the reception by the public and companies is good, assessing, for example, that the interaction between attendees is greater than that which would be had in a physical event, since they notice that approaching someone in the metaverse takes less effort than interacting with someone in person.
The Korean company Coarsoft also showed us some of the most advanced metaverse examples. An interesting demonstration was that of the Louvre, where the user could enter and move freely, while being allowed to chat with other connected users, access information on the works, display information and maps or watch videos of each element. If with Google Maps a traveler can get an approximate idea of what he will find before going there, with the virtual worlds of the metaverse, companies want the immersion to have a leap in quality.
The Mobile World Congress 2022 has made it clear to us that many companies want to join the metaverse train, but at the moment most are future projects, where virtual environments they are becoming more complete, but there is none that manages to convince us beyond what we already had years ago.
In Magnet | We’ve started using the word “metaverse” for everything. And in most cases it means nothing
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism