The Facebook CEO started the Facebook Connect 2021 kickoff conference with what we were all thinking, why focus now on the future, when Facebook has so many problems in the present and so many controversies to answer? The answer was that he believes that it is necessary to move forward, “as long as I continue to lead this company”, since there will always be problems in the present.

 

That was the theme of today’s Facebook presentation: the future. Rather than answering the many questions that Facebook users, legislators and employees themselves have, Zuckerberg has preferred to focus today on what the social network will look like in the future; or rather, what the metaverse will be like.

 

This is the metaverse

“The future will be made thanks to all” was the opening message, before Zuckerberg explained what the metaverse consists of. And it started with the beginnings of the Internet, explaining how in the beginning text was the only way to communicate, and how we have evolved into photographs and videos. The next step is the metaverse, where we can do anything we can think of with our friends.

 

The metaverse will be the successor to the mobile Internet, where we can express ourselves in new ways and unlock new experiences. When we send a video of our children to our parents, they will feel as if they are with us; and when we are in a work meeting, we will feel as if we are in the office.

 

Instead of looking at a screen, we will be inside these screens , it will be more natural. It’s not about spending more time in front of a screen, but about enjoying a better experience. Technology designed for people. The downside is that Zuckerberg acknowledges that it is difficult to explain this without experiencing it. So instead of focusing on this year’s products, Facebook has looked to the future, starting with the connection between people.

 

In a virtual environment, Zuckerberg talked about how we can put on glasses and change to a different and personalized place, with an avatar that represents us no matter how we want to be seen. We can be a robot, or show a video of our face, or use a three-dimensional model that reminds us of Fortnite. We can also connect by video calls with those who are not in the virtual environment, and enjoy virtual experiences with other people. All this, while maintaining communication, receiving audios from WhatsApp and sending videos to other users.

 

The first blocks of this future are already here, starting with defining presence. Avatars will be as common as profile images, but more complete and personal. We can have a photorealistic avatar for work, and a more casual one to play with friends. These avatars can be used in all apps and services.

 

We can have a virtual house , where we can receive guests and from where we can teleport to wherever we want, including a private office to work. But to unlock the potential of the metaverse, a level of interoperability is necessary, a standard that is compatible with all the platforms we use, in which virtual items belong to us regardless of the service we use.

 

Security and privacy must be there from the beginning, we can decide with whom we want to connect, or if we want to be alone in our “bubble”, as well as access our content with holograms, such as movies or books. We can take our virtual items and project them in real life with augmented reality with glasses. There will be more natural ways to interact with this content. Zuckerberg talks about big changes in about five years.

 

New virtual reality experiences

Horizon is the social platform that Facebook is building to create these experiences. Horizon Home is the first thing we will see when we start our Oculus device, and anyone can create their own virtual homes; it will have a social version in which we can add our friends. Horizons Worlds will allow us to create worlds to participate in events with other people. Horizons Workrooms is for collaborations at work.

 

Messenger will come to virtual reality , with calls that will work between devices regardless of whether we have a virtual reality viewer.

 

Zuckerberg proposes a future in which a friend is at a concert, and to be able to unite even though we are miles apart. And participate in an “afterparty” where we can buy NFTs and virtual merchandising.

 

Facebook is already preparing some of these advances, with Spark AR to create objects in augmented reality with which we can interact. The possibility of using real locations to create virtual events and experiences will also be added. In the end, it will be the creators and developers who will shape the metaverse, and that is why Facebook promises monetary income. Video games will be of great importance, and Facebook has announced that Epic is working on the metaverse with their own experiences, as well as a special version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

 

Zuckerberg also spoke of a future where we don’t have to drive to work , because at home we will have access to all of our company tools. Thanks to the latest news from Oculus, we will be able to log in with a company account instead of having to use our personal Facebook account.

 

The metaverse can also be used to learn, either by riding motors if we want to be mechanics, or by performing virtual surgery. There will also be more educational content adapted to virtual reality, although Facebook is aware that for this, there needs to be more creators; therefore, it will dedicate 150 million dollars to education.

 

Interestingly, Zuckerberg also warns that the metaverse will require a “new type of government”, and although he has not spoken more about that, it is clear that Facebook wants to become the basis of the Internet of the future.

 

How Facebook will make money

Zuckerberg also had time to defend the way Facebook makes money, claiming that apps are free, as are most services, and that its ad auctions guarantee the best option for businesses.

 

Facebook hopes to invest billions of dollars before the metaverse actually exists; but by then, it will host billions of people, entrepreneurs, creators and companies. Zuckerberg says he will do his best to create an ecosystem that offers choice at the lowest possible cost.

 

Today, what we buy in one service does not work in another. Facebook proposes to be able to buy virtual elements in a site and that it serves for all; for example, buy a t-shirt for our avatar and make it available in other services. And he is working on new types of purchases, such as NFTs that we can show in our virtual environment and sell to other users.

 

Facebook tried to explain its position on metaverse privacy, explaining that the big problem with social media is that technology was faster than legislation. With the metaverse, by starting early, you intend to set out a number of principles, such as not surprising people with greater transparency and controls. He has also discussed research to learn how augmented reality can affect the privacy and security of minorities.

 

As a first step towards this future, Zuckerberg also revealed that they are working on new devices, such as a new Oculus device . It will not be the new Quest, but a more premium device that will be compatible with its software. With the new visor, we will be able to make contact with the eyes, because it will be able to track them and apply them to our avatar.

 

In addition, Facebook is working on Project Nazareth, augmented reality glasses that will be able to display hologram graphics to bring the metaverse to our “real life”.

 

Facebook is now Meta

What everyone expected was announced at the end. Facebook, the company that hosts all these projects dedicated to the metaverse, will change its name to better reflect this bet.

 

The new name is “Meta”, and the logo is an infinity symbol bent to look like an “M”. It is to be expected that Facebook as such continues to exist, but only as the social network and not as this metaverse project.

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