Metaverse Standards Forum Launches to Solve Interoperability

Interoperability — or lack thereof — is a key issue in the nascent metaverse industry. The Khronos Group aims to solve this with a new open standards discussion forum called The Metaverse Standards Forum, which launches today. The group includes representation from most of the big players in the 3D internet, including Nvidia, Meta, Epic Games, Unity, Microsoft, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Solving Short-Term Interoperability Problems

Khronos is an industry consortium that has been around since 2000, developing low-level APIs for “3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, parallel programming, vision acceleration and machine learning.” Khronos has already staked a claim to open metaverse technologies by creating and maintaining glTF, a file format for 3D graphics which the group promotes as the “JPEG of 3D.” Khronos was also responsible for WebGL (Web Graphics Library), a JavaScript API that renders 2D and 3D objects inside a browser.

Khronos became interested in the metaverse, Trevett told me, because “a lot of the standards that we do — and in many cases [that] we’ve been developing for many years, before ‘metaverse’ became a buzz term — are directly relevant to the metaverse. The 3D APIs for native apps and the web, OpenXR for AR and VR, and the file formats that we do are [all] directly being used by the metaverse community.”

The metaverse is “going to be a mixture of the connectivity of the web, some kind of evolution of the web, mixed in with spatial computing.” Neil Trevett, President of Khronos

“There won’t be a Meta-run metaverse, just as there isn’t a ‘Microsoft internet’ or ‘Google internet’ today,” explained Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg in a blog post last month. “Like the internet, the metaverse will be an interconnected system that transcends national borders, so there will need to be a web of public and private standards, norms and rules to allow for it to operate across jurisdictions.”

“No one really knows how it’s all going to come together,” said Trevett. “But that’s okay. For the purposes of the forum, we don’t really need to know. What we are concerned with is that there are clear, short-term interoperability problems to be solved.”

“Reinventing something completely disconnected from the web doesn’t make sense to me,” Trevett replied. “The web has so much pervasiveness already and so much functionality. I’m not in charge [of the web], but it just seems rational that you’re going to evolve what we already have, rather than trying to create something completely new.”

So the mindset of MSF will be to treat the metaverse as an evolution of the web. With that said, Trevett pointed out that “the spatial web” will require “new protocols and new asset formats.” Just as we have HTML to describe a 2D web page, he continued, “we’re gonna need the equivalent for 3D graphics and all the ways that you can interact with 3D graphics in a connected sense.”

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