Facebook is now Meta and the Facebook app is now part of the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg introduced a rebranding of the parent company that owns properties like Instagram, WhatsApp or Oculus, and at the same time introduced the world to their vision of the future, the metaverse.
Regardless of whether or not you saw Meta’s presentation video, you might be wondering what the metaverse actually is. Is it a mix of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices and apps? Is it a development platform where content creators can create VR/AR experiences? Is it an actual virtual place where users can go online to meet other like-minded people?
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of visiting the Oculus Seattle office for a private tour, some cool demos and a very interesting conversation. During the whole visit, a question kept popping up in my mind: will augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) ever become the standard way of interacting with our desktop or mobile devices?
User interfaces have evolved over the years in very significant ways: we moved from punched cards to command-line interfaces, and from there to graphical interfaces, which ended up evolving into what we know today, mouse, keyboard and touch. With recent advances in artificial intelligence, we are beginning to transition into conversational interfaces, where we can use natural language to get things done, sometimes even without touching a button or reading a line of text.
Is the future of user interfaces an (almost) invisible one? In many cases, yes, just watch the 2014 movie Her to see a glimpse of where we will be in a few years (minus the “falling in love” part):
However, for many other tasks we will still need to read, type, touch and draw. This doesn’t mean that we will be tied forever to a screen, and here’s where VR and AR come in.