All big tech companies except Apple are laying off 10.000s of staff; most pivot away from VR/AR developments to Generative AI (GenAI) like ChatGPT. However, GenAI is a key ingredient for mainstream metaverses, which I expect to be built on augmented — rather than virtual — reality.
Key points in this post
- Big tech companies shifting focus from VR/AR projects to generative AI
- Generative AI is actually a key ingredient for (m)any mainstream metaverse
- These metaverses are expected to be visually mainly built on AR tech
- The (r)evolution towards GenAI is driven by the industry’s need to create new experiences for the “Next Big Thing” as new cash cow or power house
- Tech companies changing direction should not be seen as a setback for the metaverse but as a sign of the industry’s evolution towards AR in combination with generative AI and the potential for new and exciting possibilities
This year, tech companies like Google, Meta and Microsoft have laid off 10.000s of its staff. Microsoft even dismissed the entire Mixed Reality Tool Kit (MRTK) team and significantly scaled down its HoloLens team. On top of this, Microsoft sunset its acquired AltspaceVR platform altogether on March 10, 2023.
Although Microsoft says it is replacing AltspaceVR with Microsoft Mesh, the MRTK news still came as a surprise as Microsoft had previously been a major player in the mixed reality space.
These changes in direction from these tech giants may seem like a setback for the virtual reality and augmented reality industry, but it is important to note that they are not abandoning the technology altogether. Instead, they are shifting their focus to generative AI.
Generative AI, like the language model ChatGPT, has the ability to create new content and ideas. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with computers and the internet. With the power of generative AI, we will be able to create entirely new worlds and experiences.
It is this technology that will be the key ingredient for the metaverse, the concept of a fully immersive (not just virtual) world where people can interact with each other and digital objects in real-time. The metaverse will be built on augmented reality, not virtual reality. Virtual reality technology has been around for decades, but it has yet to fully take off. The reason for this is that it is too isolating and disconnected from the real world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, enhances our reality rather than replacing it.
It is also important to note that the Metaverse being “put on hold” because of the generative AI going mainstream, but in a way you could argue that the internet “killed” Virtual Reality before in the 1990s. The rise of the internet, however, was not the end of virtual reality but the beginning of a new era. In the same way, the rise of generative AI is not the end of the metaverse but the beginning of a new era.
So, the latest developments in big tech companies’ decision to lay off staff and shift their marketing focus from metaverse to generative AI should not be seen as a setback for the mixed reality industry. Instead, it is a sign of the industry’s evolution and the potential for new and exciting possibilities. The metaverse will be built on mixed reality (MR) and generative AI will be the key ingredient for its creation. And with MR, rest assured the default primary mode is augmented reality with the option to dim the real-world for a more VR-like experience.