Big tech’s new metaverse support group is betting on the future, even as economic priorities shift to the present

The Metaverse Standards Forum, a collection of big tech companies working to establish guidelines for metaverse platforms, has been in the planning stages for some time, but the timing of its launch this week is unfortunate. Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency of the metaverse, is down nearly 60% in the last two quarters, along with much of the stock market, as inflation and interest rate hikes pinch consumers. Similarly, employers are pressing workers to move away from the virtual and remote work dynamics that have gained currency over the last two years. 

Ever since Mark Zuckerberg helped popularized the term metaverse last year to describe the intersection of gaming, virtual work, and socializing, assisted by augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and crypto, the space has been under extreme critical scrutiny from skeptics. Some of that negative attention is likely due to Zuckerberg’s own somewhat damaged profile as the CEO of Meta. But there are others who point to a number of concerns around the business viability of what some are calling the next phase of the internet. 

“For business leaders versus broader consumer adoption, I would say it’s the headset,” says Andrew Hawken, the co-founder and CEO of UK-based VR startup Mesmerise. “It often presents a very powerful psychological barrier. It’s not like learning to use an iPhone or iPad—VR technology makes first-time users feel vulnerable and even a bit silly as they navigate the virtual world. So you can imagine why there’s some hesitancy from senior executives to put on a headset to lead meetings with their colleagues and clients in the metaverse.”

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Originally published on Quartz : Original article

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