While the hype around the metaverse seems to be dropping, the ambers of the 3D virtual world is being fanned by some techies who still see it as the world of the future. Microsoft is working hard to deepen its involvement where Meta seems to be considering a halt. The following will interest you.
Microsoft Dips Teams in the Metaverse Vat with Avatars Ahead
Microsoft Teams are set to give users more ways to express themselves to other participants on those increasingly frequent video calls. New features are being added to enable users to change the look of their environments during video meetings. The new ad-ons range from blurring the background to putting shots of scenic vistas behind them. With this development, users can add colorful animation to the screen or completely change the hue of the video. The visual effects filters, which were put into public preview in January, are being made generally available this month.
Sometimes, video meetings get boring and one may just want to put off their cameras. From May, Microsoft plans to roll out 3D avatars that will fill the screen for others to look at instead. Both the filters and the upcoming Avatars are part of a larger push by Microsoft, Zoom, and other video conferencing tech vendors to reduce the monotony associated with the increasingly frequent on-screen calls and meetings. As of January this year, Frank X Shaw, Chief Communications Officer at Microsoft, said that Teams had reached 280 million monthly active users, as against 270 million a year before, showing “durable momentum since the pandemic.” According to a blog post by Alexis Johnston, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Teams and Platform:
“Many of us want to be more engaged with our colleagues and be fully present during meetings. But due to demanding schedules we don’t always have time to get ready and put our best foot forward. Avatars for Microsoft Teams gives you that much-needed camera break, while still allowing you to collaborate effectively. You can add a new layer of choice to your meetings and represent yourself the way you want with customizable avatars and reactions.”
Are Shiba Inu and Paramount Setting Out on Metaverse Adventures?
Few weekends ago, crypto aficionados in the United States gathered for the annual SXSW Experience in Austin, Texas. The event featured the upcoming Shiba Inu metaverse project which is being built in partnership with The Third Floor (TTF) as one of the XR Experience Spotlights. Some major stakeholders in the crypto space, like Milica Zec, the Head of Creative Strategy at The Sandbox (SAND), tried out the virtual walk around WAGMI Temple (We’re All Gonna Make It). The WAGMI Flyover will also be available for viewing on the new SHIB.io metaverse website.
On top of that, there has been a lot of excitement on Crypto Twitter, as Marcie Jastrow, the Chief Advisor of SHIB: The Metaverse, was seen chatting with Paramount Global’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz, which the community took as a hint for “a significant development.” The recent revelation of WAGMI Temple in SXSW 2023 is just the beginning of the innovation that SHIB Token’s team is promising the crypto community this year. With the recent Shibarium Beta testnet ‘puppynet’ launch, things have gotten clearer for one of the largest communities in the crypto space. The website dedicated to the forthcoming Shiba Inu metaverse project already has some functionality besides the WAGMI trailer. For instance, members of the SHIB Army can already lock in their desired land, choosing from 36,431 available options. To secure land in SHIB: The Metaverse, users must connect their MetaMask wallet and pay in Ethereum (ETH) or DogeKiller (LEASH).
Meta is Pushing the Metaverse Aside for AI
Meta, formerly Facebook, has announced that it will retrench another 10,000 of its employees. He has also defined 2023 as a ‘Year of Efficiency’ and this new move seems to be part of his strategies to achieve this goal. The company has hoped to cut back on spending in the midst of falling digital advertising revenue and rising interest rates. One tacit expression in this statement is that Artificial Intelligence is now as important to the company as the metaverse.
One may be tempted to ask the reason for this shift but the answer is glaring. If Meta can build capabilities in AI, that could bring it back into the good books of Wall Street. This will, in turn, earn it the capital it needs to up its game in the metaverse in the coming years. It is worthy of mention that Zuckerberg has invested a fortune in the metaverse in the past year and that Meta holds the record of the highest tech layoffs for 2022. In the post announcing the layoff, he said:
“Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and building it into every one of our products. We do leading work across a wide range of advanced technologies and then distill that into inspiring products that improve people’s lives. We invest in AI to help you creatively express yourself and discover new content, with the metaverse to deliver a realistic sense of presence, with new media formats to create richer experiences, with encryption to let you communicate privately in more and more ways, and with business tools to help reach customers, create opportunity and grow the economy.”
It is speculated that his new love for AI was stemmed from the noise around OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing, and Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Bard. How true that is, only Meta can tell us.