The Metaverse and edge computing: shared experiences built on a new OS, compute paradigm

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The Metaverse and edge computing: shared experiences built on a new OS, compute paradigm

By David Smith, Co-Founder and CTO of Croquet, Inc. 

Human collaboration mediated by computers is fundamentally about providing a “shared truth” to all participants that they can then explore and act on together. The goal of a collaboration medium is to transmit information and ideas in a way that is not just clear, but accurate, all while incorporating modifications from any participants instantly and unambiguously. Simple examples we use today are a shared whiteboard or text editor.

The Metaverse will be the most powerful communication medium ever created, enabling far richer and more powerful applications. Metaverse systems of the near future will allow every application and every object to be shareable and collaborative, including every bit of information, every user action and every computer response. Sophisticated simulations, where we dynamically compute complex interactions and behaviors, including physics and system modeling, will be instantly communicated and explored with other users.

I will see what you see. You will see what I do as I do it. Collaboration must be a part of the kernel of future Metaverse-centric operating systems; one should think of this collaboration layer coupled with very low latency edge compute services as the missing protocol of the Internet.

The Metaverse is not just the next wave of computing; it is a fundamental shift in how we will engage with the world and each other. It will replace your PC, your phone and your tablet. It will be an always-on and always on YOU supercomputer. This powerful platform will revolutionize how humans communicate with each other and the computer ecosystem that will surround us. The collaborative Metaverse is the ultimate symbiosis of human/machine/human.

This collaborative Metaverse has several requirements — both in its capabilities and in the infrastructure required to provide these capabilities.

  • Instantaneously shared actions. Actions must immediately translate into changes in the shared experience for every participant. Even the slightest latency in interactions ruins the user’s perception of the liveness of the experience. This is particularly true when the participants are face-to-face. Latency must be under ten milliseconds when we see each other engaging with the shared world.
  • Shared dynamic state. The participants must see and maintain a shared world. This means that any set of actions by the shared world’s participants must result in the same transformation and view for all of them.
  • Dynamic join. New users must be able to join a session already in progress. This may not matter for certain applications like Zoom calls, where you can get caught up by other participants or a screen share. In multiplayer games, a lobby is often used to collect participants and launch them all with the same initial state. However, Metaverse applications will require that a new participant join a dynamic session already in progress, which means they need to replicate and synchronize with the current shared state of the world.
  • Rich vocabulary. There must be an unlimited “vocabulary” of messages between systems and users. Multiplayer games have a limited vocabulary — often, something like “move”, “shoot”, “kill” or “die”. Rarely is there any live manipulation of the world beyond those elements, which means that the complexity of these games is limited. The Metaverse will require an extremely rich collection of actions and ideas to ensure a vital and extensible communication medium. Unanticipated message types must be incorporated dynamically. The Metaverse is not just a consumption platform — but a live creation/development environment. Virtually any engagement and interaction must be allowed for and made visible and consistent for all participants.
  • Replicated simulation. Replicated, responsive time-based simulation is essential to achieve a truly shared experience and form the foundation of rich collaborative interaction. The shared world is more than just a simple state system; it can evolve dynamically while responding seamlessly to user events. Perhaps the richest example is a world built on a complex physics simulation — where replicating real-time physics in a multiplayer experience as part of gameplay is close to impossible with traditional approaches. Future responsive user interfaces will require this feature. Instantaneously shared simulations will enable the Metaverse to become the ultimate communication and cognitive exploration tool it is destined to be.

We are not just describing how some applications will work in the Metaverse — this is an operating system-level capability that all applications and interactions will require. It is a computational foundation of the Metaverse. We require a new kind of operating system, based on instantaneous, shared simulations, with a new approach to hardware and infrastructure. Most importantly, it must be a true internet OS — where the distinction between client and server is completely blurred. Part of the OS runs on the client device, and part runs seamlessly in a very low-latency edge compute platform.

About the author

David Smith is Co-Founder and CTO of Croquet, Inc., which offers a fully decentralized, edge-based platform for multiuser Metaverse experiences. The company has developed Croquet OS, which is a synchronization system that allows multiple users to work or play together within a single shared distributed environment. Smith has founded seven companies, including The Colony, the world’s first 3D adventure/shooter game, and Virtus Corporation, the first real-time 3D PC design tool. Smith has 32 patents issued in the field of 3D, AR, VR and AI.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (EdgeIR.com).

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