Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been in existence for some time now. Many of us have already experienced it with Smart phone apps, VR gadgets, Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens based Mixed Reality (MR).
The Metaverse concept
The concept of “Metaverse” was first imagined in the early 90s through a science fiction novel, where real people meet in 3D virtual spaces.
The metaverse is a digitalized virtual world where real people represent themselves with their own 3D avatars. Using supported gadgets and devices, they can connect with others, share digital spaces, collaborate on design activities, transact digital properties, make financial transactions using virtual or real currencies from anywhere in the world.
Metaverse is a concept supported by several technologies that include software applications, hardware devices, and AR/VR/MR with special sound and geospatial capabilities.
Metaverse with Technologies
1. Extended Reality (XR)
XR is an emerging umbrella term used for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed-reality (MR). Metaverse users use these XR devices to connect the metaverse based virtual world and can easily capture geospatial data and interact with own user’s audio/voice.
2. 3D Digital Avatars
As mentioned earlier, metaverse users represent themselves in their own 3D avatars in different virtual worlds. These 3D avatars can perform activities like running, walking, dancing, playing, fun activities, conferencing and many more. This space is evolving with future in touch, smell, emotional senses, and many other human capabilities via XR devices.
3. Collaboration and Virtual connection
Metaverse enables people to connect virtually, share ideas, troubleshoot, make productive conferences and other collaboration activities.
4. Replication of Real World in Virtual World
Real world and virtual world work hand in hand in this case. You make activities and transactions in virtual world, and then bring the same back into the real world.
Digital assets and blockchain-based data, digital currencies can be used in virtual world and users can encash it in the real world in real currencies.
5. High scale and faster infrastructure
Metaverse requires faster processing, storage, and high-speed internet to provide intended experience. To provide the same high scale computing infrastructure is a must.
6. Metaverse Application Development
Metaverse application development requires a 3D gaming engine such as Unity or Unreal, a programming language, and an app/game development platform.
To build Microsoft Holographic applications, you will need Unity, UWP, C# and .NET.
Metaverse solution for Enterprises
Microsoft’s Holographic computing and Microsoft Mesh technology present a metaverse solution for enterprises.
Microsoft has already launched a preview of the metaverse via its Teams platform that allows users to connect using their 3D avatars into various digital spaces where they can collaborate. Microsoft is also investing heavily in its Azure cloud and Office 365 to support metaverse.
Microsoft launched its mixed-reality device HoloLens, a key gateway to create and access 3D spaces, identities, and objects as 3D holograms.
Microsoft Mesh is a mixed-reality platform that allows developers to build Microsoft's mixed-reality based apps and host and manage them on Microsoft's Azure cloud. Microsoft Mesh also provides apps that allow people in different physical locations to join and collaborate on projects from anywhere and using any device including HoloLens, PC, tablets, and smartphones. If you have heard of the Metaverse, Microsoft Mesh will play a major role in Metaverse. It is the next big thing in technology.
Microsoft Mesh is built on and runs on the Azure cloud. That means it takes advantage of Azure’s security, privacy, AI and machine learning, and other intelligent and modern features. Developers can build immersive, multi-user, cross-platform mixed reality apps leveraging AI-powered tools for spatial maps, immersive presence, and holographic rendering in the cloud.
Microsoft Mesh SDK allows developers to build 3D applications with spatial maps, presence, rendering, and multi-user sync. Mesh also uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud’s infrastructure and services such as AI, Identity, Graph, processing, storage, and streaming.
Microsoft Mesh App for HoloLens 2
It enables a feeling of physical presence and shared experiences from anywhere. It allows you to interact as if you’re face-to-face – even when you’re not. You’ll see 3D content that’s persistent and can be collaborated on spatially. This mutual understanding ignites ideas, sparks creativity and forms powerful bonds.
For a 3D volumetric experience, Mesh supports fully immersive head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as Microsoft HoloLens, HP Reverb G2, and Oculus Quest 2.
Regardless of the device’s (mobile, PC, tablet) compute and thermal budget, Mesh allows both local stand-alone and cloud-connected remote holographic rendering for each scene and model. As it supports all kinds of devices and VR gadgets, it opens up many new opportunities for developer communities.
Microsoft Mesh SDK (Toolkit) has major capabilities as mentioned in below image:
- Immersive presence features include avatars, 360-degree holoportation with outside-in sensors and Realtime n-way interaction.
- Spatial maps Building apps that persist holographic content in the real world requires a common perspective of the space around each participant as well as an understanding of the physical world. Whether that is service records for a technician or wayfinding for a customer, placing holograms reliably that can persist across time, space, and devices is a common need. This is all enabled in Mesh via Spatial maps. Basically, it enables content to be anchored, device point-of-views to be shared, and 3D models to be collaborated on. Mesh helps you create a map of your world that is by order of magnitude more accurate than GPS, and it can even work in places without GPS access.
- Holographic rendering: A quintessential instantiation of the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud architecture, holographic rendering delivers uncompromised fidelity powered by Mesh regardless of the device’s compute and thermal budget. It also reduces latency and allows collaboration much easier. It also supports most 3D file formats to natively render in Mesh-enabled apps, solving the challenge of bringing in users’ existing 3D models for collaboration.
- Multiuser sync allows multiple users to sync any pose updates, motions, and expressions from participants or any holographic transform within 100 milliseconds, which makes it almost real time update.
Apart from Microsoft Mesh developer platform few Mesh apps are also available in the store i.e. HoloLens Mesh App and AltspaceVR.
- Microsoft Mesh App for HoloLens 2 enables a feeling of presence and shared experiences from anywhere. You’ll see 3D content that’s persistent and can be collaborated on spatially. This mutual understanding ignites ideas, sparks creativity, and forms powerful bonds.
- AltspaceVR is the premiere app for live virtual events. AltspaceVR offers a wide range of event-hosting features like unlimited capacity, stage-management, moderation-tools, host-panel, audience interaction tools, cross-platform support, world-building tools, environment templates, screen-share capabilities, and an SDK for building sharable apps.
There is no limit if one can think of use cases with 3D Avatar based connection, collaboration, replicating and connecting real world with virtual world. There can be several use cases for enterprises and personal uses. Below are some examples:
- Social Media platform development to better connect the people.
- Extensive XR based online games
- Events Management e.g. Music concerts, Award shows, Sales conference etc.
- Financial application/ platform development for transaction between virtual world to real word using blockchain based NFT’s.
Coforge Metaverse Initiatives
Coforge Metaverse Center of Excellence (CoE) aims to be at the forefront of Metaverse immersive experiences and the possibilities it offers for the enterprise world.
Leveraging Microsoft technologies, Coforge is deepening its Mixed Reality offerings. Coforge has already entered into a partnership with industry leaders like Virbela, Hedera and R3 for their Metaverse and Web3 offerings and has more partnerships in the pipeline.
- Microsoft Official websites: