Microsoft Joins Facebook Into The 'Metaverse' Business


Computers need data to process and do what they have to do.

For humans to make computers understand. there is what it is called the "human-computer interaction (HCI). This is a research in the design of the use of computer technology, which focuses on the interfaces people use to interact with computers. It has been for a long time that HCI is used to develop newer and more advanced methods for humans to interact with computers.

For most its time, computers interact with humans through the screen. From the early days of computers, to desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, as well as some other smart devices, it's safe to say that a screen is what they have in common.

To go beyond the screen, researchers have ventured onwards to develop Virtual Reality (VR), as well as Augmented Reality (AR).

These technology cross the boundaries, and make users to be able to interact with computers using gestures, and computers to interact with humans through digitally-created environment projected right to their senses. Facebook is the social giant, and it is envisioning that the future is a blend of reality and the virtual world. It even goes as far as changing its corporate name from Facebook to 'Meta' in order to achieve that dream.

This time, it's Microsoft's turn.

During its 2021 Ignite conference, the tech giant said that it's building its own version of the metaverse, with a big focus on work and corporate applications.

In more details, Microsoft is preparing an alternate version of its Microsoft Teams proprietary business communication platform to allow users use digital avatars, share Microsoft Office files, and more, through a virtual world.

Using what it's called the Mesh technology, Microsoft is also working towards enabling shareable virtual worlds across multiple Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality headsets, including Microsoft's own HoloLens hardware.

For those who don't have a VR/AR headset, they can still access the virtual worlds through a regular monitor screen.

Next, Microsoft also announced a product it calls the 'Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces'. This allows users to move through virtual recreations of stores and facilities.

Microsoft is developing the idea, after introducing a similar feature where people can visit a hospital's COVID-19 wards, a Toyota plant, and the International Space Station (ISS) through virtual reality, that according to CEO Satya Nadella.

"You can absolutely expect us to do things in gaming," Nadella said. "If you take Halo as a game, it is a metaverse. Minecraft is a metaverse, and so is Flight Sim. In some sense, they are 2D today, but the question is, can you now take that to a full 3D world, and so we absolutely plan to do so."

In all, the software and tech company said that it is adapting its "signature software products to create a more corporate version of the metaverse."

"It’s not binary, so I can choose how I want to show up, whether it’s video or an avatar, and there’s a variety of customized options to choose how you want to be present in a meeting," explained Katie Kelly, the Principal Product Manager for Microsoft Mesh, in an interview. “We are able to interpret your vocal cues to animate that avatar, so it does feel present and it does feel like it’s there with you.”

Metaverse in reality, is yet to exist.

Facebook dreamt big, and so does Microsoft.

And this time, the metaverse concept from Microsoft is similar to Facebook, in which it allows users to "live, work and play within interconnected virtual worlds."

The biggest difference at this time is that, Microsoft is focused on how the metaverse can be utilized in a profit-driven corporate sense.

In Satya Nadella's words in a LinkedIn post, he described this as virtual worlds that will allow people to “embed computing into the real world, and to embed the real world into computing—bringing real presence to any digital space.”

"What’s most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us, and choose how we want to experience this world."

"I think the thing that really separates how Microsoft is approaching metaverse and our own experiences is starting with the human experience, so the feeling of presence, talking to somebody, making eye contact, and reactions are going to be important," explained Kelly.

Facebook's version of metaverse on the other hand, is more about bringing the technology into building a new type of social media network.