How to build a metaverse
By 2030, the metaverse is predicted to consist of millions of virtual worlds, some of which will be independent while others will be interconnected. These metaverses will allow users to easily navigate between them, utilizing their digital identities, assets, and payment options. The metaverse, even in its nascent stage, has the potential to revolutionize the way we live, work, learn, shop, and socialize.
The technology that makes metaverses possible is a convergence of several technological advances, but there are still some technical limitations that prevent a fully-realized metaverse. At its most basic level, a metaverse is characterized by immersion, real-time interactivity, user control, and persistence, and it must be constantly available. A fully-developed metaverse should be interoperable across different platforms and devices, allowing for concurrency, which means thousands of people can interact simultaneously across a range of industries.
To achieve this vision, Dave Fleming, Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Mastercard Foundry, outlines the steps needed.
What technologies are currently being used to create metaverse experiences, and how will they need to evolve in order to achieve a more fully-realized vision of the Metaverse?
According to Fleming, current metaverse offerings such as Sandbox, Horizon Worlds, and Fortnite, are mostly built with existing technologies, augmented by some variations and additions. These platforms utilize 3D environments, and in some instances, AR or VR technology, low-cost VR headsets, blockchain, NFTs, and AI, facilitated by cloud computing and always-on networks. However, to achieve the end-state vision of a metaverse, significant development will be required to make it mainstream. This development includes the creation of desirable and affordable AR glasses, which, in Fleming’s opinion, will be the tipping point for adoption. Additionally, bodysuits, holo-screens, omnidirectional treadmills, and other accessories that enhance metaverse navigation are also envisioned for the future. Nevertheless, this vision of the metaverse sounds like something from a compelling movie.
What’s required to achieve rich, immersive, and intelligent experiences? What are the biggest hurdles to overcome?
According to Fleming, achieving rich, immersive, and intelligent experiences in the metaverse will require overcoming several hurdles. One of the main obstacles is the processing power and energy consumption needed to render high-definition graphics and run spatial computing applications. This can be addressed as CPU and GPU chipsets continue to improve performance and efficiency. Miniaturizing this technology will also be necessary for the metaverse to reach its full potential.
Additionally, network and low-latency communication will be crucial to ensure a seamless experience. Next-generation wireless networks will play a big role in allowing VR/AR wearables to stream high-quality 3D content on the fly and for AI-driven experiences. AI will also be a fundamental building block of the metaverse, helping users navigate through voice recognition and natural language processing, understand their surroundings using advanced computer vision models, and more.
What challenges do developers face as they enter this domain and begin building new iterations of the metaverse?
Fleming explains that while building for the metaverse will require engineers to learn new technologies and work with additional partners, a significant amount of their existing skill set will be transferable. For 3D development, engineers will need to master new tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, which primarily use programming languages like C# and C++. They will also need to become familiar with new building blocks such as world-generating engines, customization engines, and asset-creation tools to create virtual land, buildings, vehicles, apparel, and avatars. Additionally, engineers will need to be comfortable with cloud-oriented storage and blockchains, which will be used for payments, decentralized finance capabilities, and to enable the transfer and trading of NFTs. To bring these worlds alive, partners will also need to be engaged to design compelling 3D objects.
What’s the difference between a centralized and decentralized metaverse, from an engineering perspective?
Fleming explains that the tech stacks and architectural choices for the metaverse will vary between centralized and decentralized platforms. Centralized platforms, like Fortnite and Oculus, may use some open choices such as Unreal Engine or Unity. On the other hand, decentralized metaverses use blockchain and decentralized storage, like IPFS, to decentralize as much of the environment as possible over many servers. This is where the metaverse movement intersects with the Web3 movement. Although the terms “metaverse” and “Web3” are often used interchangeably, they are different concepts. While the metaverse can be thought of as the new experience layer of the internet, Web3 provides decentralized technology and protocols used to build the backend of the metaverse and enable new ecosystems, communities, and economies to develop.
Is it plausible for remote engineering teams to one day collaborate successfully in the metaverse, using VR and other technologies?
Fleming explains that engineers are already well-equipped to collaborate through digital tools and are comfortable working in a 100% digital environment. They primarily work with keyboard and text to create code and collaborate with each other through code, despite the graphical UI revolution of the past few decades. When it comes to metaverse development, engineers will continue creating virtual code, with the addition of 3D object design and some low-code application design engines. Introducing an “active” way of developing could be beneficial in getting engineers out of their seats.
MasterCard Accepts Crypto Payments Using USDC Settlements in Web3
- Mastercard will settle transactions on its network using Circle’s USD Coin tokens.
- Immersve will work with a third-party settlement service to enable transactions using USDC.
- Web3 wallets and DeFi protocols can use Immersve’s APIs and smart contracts to transact anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Immersve, a Web3 payment protocol, has partnered with Mastercard to enable users to make cryptocurrency payments across digital, physical, and Metaverse worlds. Transactions on the Mastercard network will be settled using Circle’s USD Coin tokens, a stablecoin backed by US dollars. The collaboration will allow all transactions to be made using USDC, with Immersve working with a third-party settlement service. Additionally, Web3 wallets and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols can integrate into Immersve’s APIs and smart contracts to transact anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Binance has announced the launch of its card in Brazil, which is seen as another step towards the wider adoption of cryptocurrency. The card allows users in Brazil to instantly convert between 14 different tokens and fiat currency. Initially, the card will offer several benefits such as 0% fees on certain ATM withdrawals and up to 8% cash back in cryptocurrency for eligible purchases.