The metaverse is at our doorsteps. Following the announcement that Facebook renamed itself to focus on the new age of the internet, companies and consumers have had their heads spinning as they contemplate how this new age of communication, collaboration, and socialization might take place.
“I think there is a lot of confusion lately around the metaverse and what it is and how you define it,” explained Co-founder and CEO of ByondXR Noam Levavi. “The way I see it, the metaverse is more like a generic term for the next internet... It’s not something that anyone owns or builds themselves.”
Levavi spoke with CTech following his company’s announcement that it had partnered with Armani beauty Germany to help it bring virtual 3D stores to help consumers shop online. The company, founded in 2016, claims to ‘transform’ eCommerce by replicating retail experiences through interactive programs. Available on mobile, desktop, tablet, and headset, its agnostic APIs help companies for an annual fee to present their products or services online. Perfect for a metaverse that could offer consumers 3D shopping experiences virtually from their living rooms.
In a twist of fate, the announcement came days after Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world to his next big ambition, transforming Facebook from a social media network into his idea of a metaverse: an entire online ecosystem where people can shop, meet, gather, and basically live their lives in virtual worlds. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple are already preparing their versions, too - something that ByondXR can help facilitate with Levavi himself calling it “an immersive part of the evolution of our internet.”
“In the next few years, our reality will be a screen,” he continued. Levavi told CTech that 85% of the time, ByondXR’s technology is deployed via a mobile phone and lowers the age of the shopper by an average of 10 years. “We won’t need to hold anything in our hands, the screen will be unlimited and there will be different types of layers of augmentation, layers on top of reality, and that’s the way the next internet will work. It will be all connected: physical and virtual spaces will be embedded together and able to replace physical objects with virtual objects.”
You wouldn’t be alone if this thought fills you with concern, dread, apprehension, or even fear. The possibility that we would be plugged into devices day and night sounds like something between The Matrix and Wall-E. However, consider the steps that tech companies have taken to get us already where we are today. We carry devices that track us and collect billions of data points that companies use to target us with ads. We have spent the past two years staying inside to conduct our work meetings and social gatherings to protect ourselves from a virus. We are already on our way to living in a metaverse.
“Companies have workforces who spend all day looking at each other via endless Zoom calls, but who never or rarely meet,” wrote Antonio Garcia Martinez in a guest post for the popular newsletter, Common Sense with Bari Weiss
“The techies prefer intermediating reality and people via pixels and algorithms, and they’ve created the conditions such that the world meets them on their terms.” We can see this materialize as SMBs confess to relying on platforms like Instagram to sell their products and entire new media organizations can lose revenue if YouTube decides to deplatform them.
Attempts at a metaverse by the techies in Silicon Valley have been tried and tested before, with varying results. Google released its widely-mocked failure of a product Google Glass in 2013 which the company marketed as the first generation of smart glasses. A few years later Snap released Spectacles, their version of an augmented reality headset which also failed to attract much praise or respected attention.
“The thing that Google is working on today is much more advanced than the glasses,” Levavi explained when asked about the attempts that techies have already made to insert us into a metaverse. “They were the first, and it was really important to have those milestones and learn from this... At that time, Google spent a few hundred million dollars on those products. Today every company spends billions of dollars every year on these technologies.”
Companies like ByondXR will help facilitate metaverses created by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Apple. During Zuckerberg’s announcement about the next steps his company will take to bring consumers there, fellow Israeli company Spike
was listed as one of Oculus’ partners to bring productivity tools to the metaverse. ByondXR is offering the perfect tech at the perfect time to transition us online for all our shopping needs. According to Levavi, Facebook is spending $15 billion in the next year and dedicating one-third of its workforce to perfecting our metaverse needs.
Soon, we will all be in the metaverse. It is not clear which tech giant will win in the race to host us there, but it is clear that this is the next step the CEOs have decided to take. Today we are halfway there: glued to screens that take us around the world and provide us with anything we need all in a simple click or tap. Tech giants just need to create the infrastructure and platforms to host us there.
“It will take another five years until we see mass adoption,” Levavi concluded. “Eventually in 10-15 years those devices are going to replace all the smartphones, all the computers, there will be no other devices. Basically we will use only on device, connected with wearables, to our body.”
Welcome to the metaverse.