Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come a long way since the days of creating a ranking website for college girls. That website became the Facebook social media giant we know today; that social media giant is now one of the most powerful companies in the world.
Zuckerberg no longer wants Facebook to just be known for social media. In recent years, the company has invested heavily in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, sucking up Oculus in the process. However, just VR and AR isn't enough, the Facebook CEO wants the company to be the king of the metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to rule the metaverse
In the latest episode of The Vergecast, Mark Zuckerberg explained his hopes for the future of Facebook. The next great technological step: the metaverse is a joining of physical, augmented and virtual realities. As cliché as this is, imagine Ready Player One but with people you like... and people you don't.
Zuckerberg describes Facebook's metaverse goals as the “next chapter" of the company. Instead of being a passive viewer of content on a phone or laptop, “you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example.”
How this differs from VR social hangouts like VRChat or Rec Room is more hypothetical than explained. He explained:
“I think a lot of people, when they think about the metaverse, they think about just virtual reality — which I think is going to be an important part of that... But the metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices and game consoles... I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.”
A near future?
In the podcast, Mark Zuckerberg explains that everything occurring at Facebook this moment will eventually converge on the metaverse idea. From the company's social media team to Oculus to the AR development, everything is pushing towards a coherent future.
“It just touches a lot of the biggest themes that we’re working on,” he said. “I think all of these different initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision.”
The Facebook CEO explains that the goal for the metaverse to at least start is over the next half-decade or so. He hopes that it'll be what Facebook is eventually known for instead of just a collection of online blogs.
“My hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company. And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. So there’s a lot to jump into here. I’m curious what direction you want to take this in. But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry.”
Technology isn't there yet
In the interview, Mark Zuckerberg does admit that technology has a way to go before his dream of a metaverse is actually possible. While advancements in VR and AR have been rapidly improving the technologies, they're limited and uncomfortable for long stretches.
“There's clearly an evolution, or multiple, in the technology that are going to need to be possible, that will need to happen before this is the main way that people work,” he said. “But I think we’re going to be there by the end of this decade. Today, the VR headsets, they’re still kind of a bit clunky, they may be a bit heavier than you would ideally like them to be. There need to be advances in being able to express yourself and having higher resolution, being able to read text better, a number of things like that. But we’re getting there, and each version is better and better.”
“I also don’t think this is going to be all VR. I think it’s going to be AR too. And part of the reason why VR is available, and why you have things like the Quest 2 years before you’re going to have AR glasses is because it’s a little more socially acceptable to wear something like a VR headset in the comfort of your own home. But I think to get AR glasses that we wear around throughout the day, they have to be normal-looking glasses, right?
So you’re basically cramming all of these materials to build what we would’ve thought of as a supercomputer 10 years ago into the frame of glasses that are about five millimeters thick — you have computer chips, and networking chips, and holographic wave guides, and things for sensing and mapping out the world, and batteries and speakers, all this stuff, and it just needs to fit into these glasses — so that is a real challenge.”