Meta, the new name of parent company Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has launched the Horizon Worlds virtual reality platform for testing in the US and Canada.
It’s part of company leader Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to explore the possibilities of the metaverse, a digital environment that blends the physical and virtual worlds, where people interact through avatars.
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Thousands of volunteers can visit virtual public spaces in the digital world and participate in games, talks and events. In one such experiment, a woman reported that her virtual avatar was “touched” by a stranger.
In recent weeks, various abusive behaviors have been reported, including what is now considered the first recorded case of sexual harassment in the platform’s history, the metaverse environment: a term used to describe immersive shared spaces accessed through different platforms, where physical and digital convergence .
In other words, a separate “virtual world”, controlled by real people.
Annoyances in virtual reality
The accident occurred in the Plaza, the main public environment of the Horizon world, on November 26.
In the complaint, the victim wrote that “sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet, but being in virtual reality adds a whole new layer that makes the event even more intense.”
The volunteer, whose name has not been released, reported that other people present at the time “supported the behavior” and offered no help, which made her feel even more uncomfortable.
The company is considering improving the blocking functionality
Vice President of the project, Vivek Sharma, told The Verge that the case was “completely unfortunate” and said the company had already analyzed what happened.
However, Sharma claimed that the victim himself could have used the security mechanisms found in the metaverse – the so-called safe zone (“safe zone”).
– That’s good comment For us, because we want to make (the lock feature) easier and more accessible.”
The safe zone, when activated, opens a special menu and creates a “bubble” on the avatar, which allows it to isolate, put people around you into mute or block mode, as well as allow you to file a complaint.
Even Meta realized that the notification was important, and could use this type of status to make it easier to unlock safe mode in future versions, making the procedure much easier.
What is metaverse?
The metaverse is made possible by technologies such as virtual reality (VR) glasses, haptic sensor wear and high-speed internet connections, and it’s already in popular games like “Roblox”, “Fortnite” and “Minecraft”.
In the case of Horizon Worlds, users use the company’s headphones and headphones, Quest 1 and Quest 2, and interact with each other.
Experts explain that the metaverse found fertile space to develop first in the gaming industry. Attempts began in the 2000s with virtual games such as Second Life by Linden Lab.
After a series of attempts to integrate this virtual space, games like Roblox and Fortnite are the main heroes who have already formalized their entry into the metaverse.
Both systems typically offer a series of immersive experiences capable of serving thousands of users in real time.
According to forecasts by Bloomberg Intelligence, the metaverse should move $800 billion by 2024.
This digital reality has emerged in the gaming world, entered the corporate world, enticed brands and celebrities and enthralled consumers with novelties, even if only virtual.
Gucci has already sold the Dionysus bag, found only in this parallel universe, on the Roblox gaming platform for the equivalent of 21.8 thousand Brazilian Reals (or 350 thousand Robux, “the local currency”).
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The live avatar of singer Travis Scott in the game Fortnite attracted at least 12 million people at one time.
– The next wave of the Internet will be connected to metaviruses. Companies have already realized that a presence in the games is necessary for them to sell their products. Consumers will be interested, as today on social networks, in this environment. And, of course, companies will need to be there — says Andre Micheli, MBA Coordinator in Marketing and Digital Business at FGV.
5G and ‘tools’ for immersion
The potential of this new environment is fueling a wave of funding for startups willing to help build the foundations for integrating the metaverse into the daily lives of billions of people, from entertainment to the job market. There are many examples.
Magic Leap, the “unicorn” that makes augmented reality glasses, raised $500 million to create a headset.
SoftBank, the giant that is one of the best global lenders to startups, has created a fund investing $170 million in the Naver Z Corp metaverse platform.
According to data from CB Insights, there are at least 90 startups committed to building the metaverse.
This industry ranges from hardware (hardware), through wearables (electronic devices such as virtual reality goggles), 3D computing software and computations such as NFT (short for Non-Replaceable Tokens, a kind of virtual authenticity stamp for virtual objects) and blockchain ( system that ensures process safety).
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