In Tecnocast 264, we talked about the absence of innovations in the products launched in recent years. There are increments, new features and performance improvements, but nothing that leaves us speechless. Do you know the reaction of when the iPhone came? Then. She hasn’t rolled in a while.
It is a moment of certain stabilization, in which the technologies we are used to have reached a level of maturity. There is little that can be added to them. There are variations on the theme – such as folding cell phones, for example – but they are attempts to change the form. They do not, in themselves, represent considerable advances.
But what, then, will be the next technological leap? Among the many promises on the table, the much-heralded metaverse, a topic addressed by Mark Zuckerberg at every opportunity. Pudera: Your company changed its name to embrace the venture. There is Meta’s newest onslaught in this field is the Quest Proglasses that mix virtual reality with augmented reality.
The product draws attention for its new features, but there is a catch: it costs US$ 1,499.00. Clearly the general public is not the target here. Apparently, in its endeavor to popularize the metaverse, Zuckerberg’s company points its efforts in the direction of… other companies?
Focus on work…but why?
The discourse remains the same: the metaverse is a kind of embodied internet where social interactions, entertainment and work will be concentrated. But, as much as the first two items on the list sound much more interesting, Quest Pro seems more focused on the third.
Productivity and collaboration were recurring themes in the product presentation, with emphasis on virtual spaces for work and meetings. As Meta explains, the headset is designed for “architects, engineers, builders, creators and designers.” The hefty price tag and the “Pro” in the name don’t lie: the new Quest is built for work.
It’s a curious decision. Virtual reality is often associated with games, and the most ambitious dreams of the metaverse include interaction between hyper-realistic avatars. In pop culture, the idea of an interactive virtual world also aligns much more with these themes than with productivity.
Entertainment was not left out in the presentation, but the most emphasized possibilities were linked to work. This is made clear in the announcement of the partnership with Microsoftwhich deals with integrations with the teams. Anyone expecting advances in gaming or a more immersive social experience was left to see ships.
Instead, we were introduced to a future where Microsoft Teams work meetings will take place in the metaverse. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Promising technologies, applications not so much
We still don’t know if the metaverse will actually exist. In fact, we don’t even know how to conceptualize what the metaverse is, as Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, points out. The point is that the technologies that would make it possible are certainly exciting. The problem lies in the uses for which they have been applied.
The very focus on the corporate universe is proof of that. It is as if, in the absence of significant developments in the social and entertainment areas, Meta has turned its efforts in the direction less friendly to the general public, but potentially interesting to companies. It is obvious that something is missingalthough it is difficult to define what.
But perhaps it’s not really surprising that the best the metaverse has come up with so far is work meetings. After all, when previously disruptive technologies become just part of the landscape (like smartphones), it is certain that potentially disruptive technologies will be in their infancy.
It is during this period that experiments are carried out, with often disappointing results. It is worth remembering that Horizon Worlds, Meta’s metaverse experiment, is not popular even among the company’s employees. The whole thing seems a little childish, just as a work-oriented VR headset looks boring. But it’s a natural path to take before truly disruptive use of technology is found (if it ever is).
In the meantime, we can expect new applications that just remix existing experiences. Whether they do it successfully or not, the public will tell. See, for example, a sample of how it is watch an MMA fight by a VR headset (fruit of the partnership between Meta and UFC):
My opinion? Wow, what a strange business. But at least it’s not a new way to use Microsoft Teams.