Meta and Microsoft join forces to create metaverse standards; Apple, Google is out

Parties interested in making Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite buzzword a reality announced on Wednesday that they have formed The Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta is a founding member, of course, and big technology names like Adobe, Microsoft and Nvidia are also founding members. Initial membership, however, lacks the participation of Apple and Google.

The forum, according to today’s announcement, is intended to “promote the development of open standards for the metaverse.”

“The forum will explore where the lack of interoperability is holding back metavers’ rollout and how the work of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) that define and develop necessary standards can be coordinated and accelerated,” the group said in its announcement.

Other founding members include Adobe, Epic Games, Ikea, Qualcomm, Sony, XR Association and SDOs The Khronos Group, World Wide Web Consortium and Open Geospatial Consortium.

Apple, which is expected to release an AR headset by 2023, is not participating. Neither does Alphabet, which owns Google. Both parties have joined open industry groups before, including Matter and FIDO, but neither has promoted the term “metaverse”.

Beyond the unannounced (but much-discussed) AR headset that is said to be under development, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple’s role in the metaverse market is “a big question” in Apple’s earnings announcement for the first quarter of 2022 in January.

“We’re always exploring new and emerging technologies … Right now we have over 14,000 AR-set apps in the App Store, providing incredible AR experiences for millions of people today,” Cook said when asked about Apple’s metaverse plans, according to an applicant alpha printing. “We see a lot of potential in this area and invest accordingly.”

Alphabet’s Google has meanwhile been connected to a new AR headset. And AR is a well-known feature in various Google products, from Pixel phones to software.

Google also joined the VR Standards Initiative in 2016, as noted by TechCrunch, along with Facebook’s then-Oculus VR brand. The initiative was led by The Kronos Group, a non-profit organization focusing on new technologies that also hosts the Metaverse Standards Forum.

The new group provides free, open membership, so that both companies can join the metaverse forum afterwards. But with many questions about the meta-verse – what it means and how it will make money and be moderated – we are not surprised that some big names in technology are not eager to sign up. It is also the fact that Meta is determined to use a term that is synonymous with its own brand.

These organizations will miss out on “pragmatic, action-based projects,” such as “implementation prototyping, hackathons, plug-ins, and open source tools to accelerate testing and implementation of metaverse standards,” according to the forum’s announcement. The group also said it would work to develop “consistent terminology and distribution guidelines.”

The group’s focus will vary based on membership, but potential topics presented are “3D resources and rendering, human interfaces and interaction paradigms, such as AR and VR, user-created content, avatars, identity management, privacy and financial transactions.”

The Metaverse Standards Forum also highlighted potential areas of collaborative spatial computing, including AR and VR, of course, but also “photorealistic content writing, geospatial systems, end-user content tools, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physical simulation, online economies,” and more.

The forum expects to hold its first meeting in July.