Growing the Metaverse requires mobile digital identities

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What exactly is the metaverse? Is it a fully immersive, parallel, digital 3D world in which we live, play and work? Or is it a series of interconnected virtual experiences that we navigate seamlessly through our avatars and wearable digital accessories? The exact nature of the metavers is still not entirely clear, nor to what extent it exists today.

While there is still no exact definition of the metavers, there is no denying that it will increasingly be present in all aspects of life. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2026, “25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media, and/or entertainment.

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I believe the metaverse is not just a destination we reach through technological devices, but rather a digital identity we carry through platforms and experiences. It seems that however we define this concept, the role of digital identity remains a constant in all visions of the metavers. This digital identity includes how we present ourselves visually and audibly. It includes the digital assets we own and the digital spaces in which we operate.

For the Metaverse to ultimately succeed, I think three primary technological capabilities must be in place:

  • Modification of user identity or identities.
  • The ability to transport identities across multiple platforms.
  • Access from the user’s mobile device.

Cross-identity, cross-platform

Today, our online personas are usually associated with email addresses, user IDs, and profile pictures, and we often use the same username across platforms, even when logging in with an email account. Fast forward to the future: Our digital avatars now act as our online identities, with users spending more time in the business and entertainment metaverse. It is normal for users to want to take ownership of their personal data and the identities they modify for the metaverse, which will vary depending on their activity. For example, their persona in their metaverse workplace will likely differ from their identity in a metaverse nightclub, just as it would be different in real life.

Users can select a visual avatar from one system, a sound identity from another, and an animation from a third, using these custom avatars to connect their real and virtual worlds. As venture capitalist Rex Woodberry noted, “In Web3, identity becomes portable and configurable… What’s important is that the various elements of your identity merge into one digital location, owned and controlled by you.”

For the metaverse to really take off, there needs to be a strategy where individuals can access and make meaningful connections to their digital identities on all devices every day. Developers are working to expand current augmented and virtual reality experiences by improving the Motif VR headset to make it lighter, more connected and affordable.

Companies looking to attract more users should enable them to carry their digital identities across the metaverse, regardless of access point or platform, for example by implementing the studio-tech-like virtual universal (VST) standard for audio avatars.

What does this mean for the short and long term vision of the Metaverse? Our digital identities must be easily accessible in all facets of our lives. A digital identity that can only be accessed through a VR headset or desktop computer is only relevant for the hours we spend with such devices. In other words, the metaverse must exist along the way, just like us.

Smartphones: the gateway to the metaverse

The metaverse should also be accessible to the widest possible audience from the most popular and easily adoptable device. Today, that device is the smartphone. Most internet activities currently take place via mobile phones. In many countries, including the United States, people choose a smartphone if they can only afford one device for internet connection. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that smartphone users worldwide could reach 4.5 billion by the end of 2024.

Just as laptops have not disappeared with the advent of the smartphone, browser-based social metaverse experiences will continue, even as AR glasses and headsets become commonplace. While it will take some time for the hardware to catch up with the software, it is an essential step to reach the majority of the metaverse’s potential citizens who are in the game world.

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the upcoming acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard in January, he bolstered the company’s gaming footprint and ability to deliver mobile experiences, explaining that gaming will “play a key in the development of metaverse platforms.” .

With an estimated three billion gamers worldwide by 2021, smartphones are key to mobile gaming, which in turn will power the metaverse.

While technology has yet to catch up to the metaverse vision, companies are making progress. NewZoo’s Introduction to Metaverse report states that “we are collectively racing towards greater participation in interconnected simulated environments that are even more borderless than our own”.

The companies that succeed will engage the largest audience through an immersive, inclusive, and mobile experience. They will help create a widely accessible metaverse that allows users to personalize their digital identities, which they can then transport into interconnected virtual worlds wherever and whenever they are.

Jaime Bosch is the co-founder and CEO of Voicemod

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