Many blockchain metaverse boosters like to portray the newly renamed Meta as a threat to the dream of an immersive, decentralized virtual world free from the clutches of Big Tech. But we can say of CEO Mark Zuckerberg: he has the good sense to realize that there is too little attention for the ‘virtual’ part of virtual reality.
Little attention has been paid to the hardware that allows people to immerse themselves in a (mostly theoretical) 3D world: a headset with a closed screen, at least with headphones and hand controls. At the moment it can be quite simple, quite expensive and often both. Haptic gloves and full-body suits like the ones seen in the metaverse movie “Ready Player One” exist, but mostly in labs, commercial and educational settings — this is how dental students drill and the surgeons cut — and most importantly, well, well outside a realistic price for games.
It was therefore notable that on Monday (May 9) Meta opened a brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco dedicated to selling – or rather testing – headsets ranging from its own Meta Quest 2 VR headsets to Ray-Ban Stories. augmented glasses. †
While you still have to go online to buy anything, the price tags — $299 to $399 for Meta’s Quest 2 — make it a tough sell without a test drive.
“At Meta Store, we want you to interact with everything. We want you to pick things up. We want you to feel it,” the company said in its announcement.
“Once people experience the technology, they can appreciate it better,” said Martin Gilliard, head of Meta Store. “If we’ve done our job right, people should go away and say to their friends, ‘You should check out the Meta Store.'”
And, Meta hopes, you’ll also go online to try out the fledgling Horizon Worlds, a kind of Metaverse Lite VR game.
See also: Meta is opening up its Metaverse platform to payments, and it’s not cheap
This was just days after Zuckerberg met the CEO of eyewear maker EssilorLuxottica to discuss smart glasses like his Ray-Bans.
They’re also showing off a prototype of Meta’s “Neural Interface EMG wristband” that will “eventually” allow users to control their VR goggles and other devices in a way that allows them to interact more realistically than current hand controllers.
Read more: Zuckerberg hints at upcoming wearable AR controller
NFTs are the new ICO
While metaverse scams are quite rare now, rest assured that they are happening, especially in blockchain-based “Web3-” metaverses which, due to their semi-decentralized nature, will be more heavily monitored.
That said, five state securities regulators have accused a group called Flamingo Casino Club of selling allegedly fraudulent NFTs “allegedly linked to a metaverse casino,” according to a New Jersey Bureau of Securities (NJBOS) publication. The operators said they were developing a “metaverse casino through a partnership with the Flamingo Las Vegas, an established casino that operates in Nevada,” the regulators claimed, adding that the claim “just isn’t true.”
Warning that “scammers are already trying to capitalize on the hype associated with metaverses and NFTs,” the agencies said they have “seen an increasing number of suspicious requests for unregistered metaverse-related titles… [that play] on their emotions by falsely promising lucrative profitability, guaranteed income, financial security and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to become metaverse millionaires.
Startup Lightning Labs just raised seed money to create a cross-metaverse search engine that will likely prove vital, at least in concept, to enable commerce — and everything else — in the metaverse. a misnomer, because there are dozens of them – and there will probably be hundreds – at least in the coming years.
“Right now, discovery in the metaverse is more of a game, where you have to jump between games to find things, than the internet, where you can access everything from one access point,” Lighthouse CEO Jonathan Brun said in a statement. †