As Meta Platform Inc. (previously Facebook Inc.) states on its website: “Connection is evolving and so are we.” Meta is the owner of the largest social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
28 October 2021 will probably stay in the memory of users, and possibly also in the history of the Internet, for a long time. Not only due to the announced new company name, but also the way in which Meta wanted to revolutionize its services. In consequence, Web 3.0 and the metaverse were much talked about.
Let’s see what Web 3.0 (or: Web3) is and what we can expect in the near future. Between July 2021 and March 2022, the awareness about the metaverse increased by 42%. Nevertheless, only 15% of people know what the metaverse is. It is time to change this! This article will help you to expand knowledge on this subject.
Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0
However, before we discuss how the network will look in its 3.0 version, let’s see what happened earlier. What kind of Internet did we use before and are using now?
The concept of the Internet was created already in 1962, and was described by Paul Baran in 12 volumes. The Internet in its Web 1.0 form was launched 20 years later, in 1989. Tim Berners-Lee, an employee of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), proposed a solution that would connect all computers to form a network, allowing them to exchange information.
For nearly 20 years, the Internet in its 1.0 version allowed only to read information, and content creation was not as easy as it is in its 2.0 version. However, the number of users was increasing – after all, it was something new and interesting that we had not known before. However, we could not interact with the content. We could not comment, display or share it. Messages were relatively general, not targeting specific recipient groups. Furthermore, a lack of interactive advertisements, customized to our needs as individual users, represented another problem, mainly for marketing. As a species, humans have a need for communication, which, as we know, is based on mutual exchange of information.
In the early 2000s’, social media, associating specific recipient groups, started to appear. The Internet 2.0 opened a door to the content tailored to requirements of specific groups and gave us the possibility to generate and create. Today, everybody can start a blog, write a paper, share photos on social media, and comment. What we see today online results from the content we consume. At each step we take on the Internet, we are surrounded by algorithms that customize messages to the needs of individual users, but also of specific social groups. The situation is similar in the case of advertising. An algorithm collects data about users on the network, so different versions of advertisements are displayed to different people.
It seems that the problem faced by the network version 2.0 today results from the fact that we want increased convenience and innovations. We want to immerse ourselves deeper in the virtual world and be able to experience it personally. Be able to influence how it looks like and who creates it. These needs are to be fulfilled by the Internet version 3.0: decentralized network without gigantic companies with a monopoly for a specific part of the web. It is to ensure information security with the blockchain technology.
Web 3.0 is the next generation of the Internet, following the one in which we live now, Web 2.0. What will Web 3.0 be and what can it allow us to do? We selected the most important Web 3.0 features:
- Creation of content of which we will be an owner, and its sharing will be strictly controlled by an owner-creator. This may sound surprising, but you should you remember that all content: entries, photos, graphics and advertisements that you create on social media platforms, you share as licensed content with a right to grant sublicenses. This case is described in detail, for example, in Facebook Terms and Conditions (section 3.3.). Web 3.0 is to be the Internet generation that specifically cares for a user and ownership rights.
- It will be free of any powers. Web 3.0 will be independent of any large corporations, like Google, Meta, Amazon, or ICAAN. But also of a human factor that could attempt in any way to take the Internet over or negatively affect functioning of Web 3.0. With the blockchain technology (discussed further below), Web3 is to be completely independent of large corporations, and at the same time, secure.
- Decentralised. This is slowly happening. We have an increasingly larger number of devices that actively connect to the network. Each of them generates increasingly larger quantities of data that needs to be stored on servers. By connecting to a website or an application and leaving data (telephone number, a message, or making a payment), we force owners of those sites to store it for a specific time, and this, unfortunately, generates costs. A communication system based on blockchain and performing operations without a need to connect to a central device, as it is the case in the server architecture, is to be an answer to this problem.
- Personalised. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to supply us with the content that we already expect now. Unfortunately, humanity is not able to supply it to the extent that we expect. The quantity of data about us that we leave on the network will allow adapting (probably, in the real time) the content, with the form of communication similar to the one we share between ourselves. We will process adapted content: articles, images, and/or video, but we will also use the technology in our lives with increasing fluency, e.g., including it as an element of therapy for mental disorders.
- Secure. Due to a frequent forms of hacker attacks and relative easiness to prepare them, Web 3.0 is to associate security with the blockchain technology. What does it involve? Blockchain is a chain of blocks, in which transactions are irreversible. The technology collects information in blocks that are interconnected by cryptography. Each block contains a hashing function of the previous block. This means that when there is attempt to change information or to replace it, a fraud is discovered immediately and it is impossible to attach such block to the chain.
It is said that Web3 is to be what Tim Berners-Lee (together with James Handler and Ora Lasilla) wrote about the semantic web in May 2001:
Like the Internet, the Semantic Web will be as decentralized as possible. Such Web-like systems generate a lot of excitement at every level, from major corporation to individual user, and provide benefits that are hard or impossible to predict in advance. Decentralization requires compromises: the Web had to throw away the ideal of total consistency of all of its interconnections, ushering in the infamous message “Error 404: Not Found” but allowing unchecked exponential growth.
Tim Berners-Lee is the creator of the Internet. He still works on improvement of the web, and he started by creating the WWW (World Wide Web) protocol. Is it really true that Web3 will resemble a semantic web, about which Tim wrote 20 years ago?
The semantic web is a collection of protocols and standards, which are to enable machines to completely understand messages and content created by a human being. It seems that we are increasingly closer to reaching that aim in Internet history.
Web 3.0 – in which form?
We already know the features of Web 3.0, but what will be its form? Will we still use a computer or a smartphone? The devices will probably not change – first we will see a change in the technology.
On 23 June 2022, Solana Labs published information on Solana Mobile Stack, an open-source Android software. Ultimately, it is to enable development of native applications on Web3. With them, it would be possible to avoid logging to stationary devices, like laptops or desktops, when making mobile payments with cryptocurrencies.
Solana Labs is also working on Saga, i.e., its flagship phone with the Android system, which should be launched together with Solana Mobile Stack at the beginning of 2023.
Why did Solana Labs decide to work on those projects? According to them, there are an opportunity to create experiences that use smoother options for performing transactions on Web3 on mobile devices. The users will be able to have their digital resources at any location (and this may generate new opportunities for their use). The system and a telephone will enable associating mobile payments with Web3, eliminating intermediates at the same time. This elimination is strongly related to the elimination of powers that we have discussed above.
Payment security also represents an important part of these projects. If we focus our attention on blockchain technology, we get one of the most secure payment methods in the world.
VR glasses as a crucial part of Web 3.0
There are two large players in the VR glasses market: Meta and Apple. At this moment, probably nobody else can compete with them at a similar level. It seems that Meta, as an “originator” of the metaverse, has an advantage in this situation. But what is the actual situation?
Mark Zuckerberg’s vision
Nearly two years ago, in October 2020, we received the Oculus Quest 2 headset, which was quite warmly received in the Polish market and was given positive opinions. With this headset, we can get into the virtual 3D world, where we can practice or meet people from all over the world in social games.
It seems that the Oculus Quest 2 headset fulfills the task and we should not expect more. However, in October 2021 at the Connect 2021 conference, Meta announced the Nazare Project, i.e., the first glasses completely connected to augmented reality. Unfortunately, at that time we did not receive a prototype, or even images or visualization of that project. Instead, we saw fragments of a video showing how we would see augmented reality.
In April 2022, Meta published a report with plans concerning launching of new models of the VR glasses, implying that the Nazare project was to be launched in 2024. However, obstacles that may be faced by this model include expensive components, like eye-tracking cameras or microLED projectors generating a three-dimensional image. It is estimated that this new model would have to cost thousands of dollars. What is interesting, those glasses will not be available generally, but only to programmers. Only the second generation, launched in 2026, is to be available in the general market. Meta also plans to launch cheaper glasses, not connected with augmented reality. It will be possible to connect them to a smartphone and display notifications or other useful information.
It seems that Meta is robustly developing its range. At the same time, we hear about reducing costs, withdrawing from or stopping work on some projects. Only in the first quarter of 2022 alone, performance and works associated with augmented reality cost nearly USD 2.96 billion. The said reductions were possibly caused by the war in Ukraine and the approaching economic downturn. In April 2022, Mark Zuckenberg informed investors that the metaverse would not bring any profit for a long time yet. However, conducted activities would allow to prepare the ground for augmented and virtual reality in the 2030s, when it will become an essential part of our lives.
What is Apple’s response?
As MacRumors.com reports, Apple has been interested in the augmented reality technology for 20 years already. Currently, it focuses on two projects concerning augmented reality. We can expect to see the results of the first one already in 2023. Possibly, it will be a set resembling the Meta headset in its form, but distinguished by its elegant appearance and light design. It seems that these glasses, similarly to all other products, will match the Apple aesthetics.
Sensors installed in the set are to detect objects around a person and hand gestures, support voice control, and have inbuilt skin, space, and expression detection. Probably, in this case we will receive a new operating system, rOS, dedicated to VR glasses. Similarly to Meta, Apple focuses on augmented reality in games, video streaming and video conferences. A set is to cost about two thousand dollars.
Not only Meta encountered problems on its way to launching a new model of VR glasses. Apple planned to launch its project in 2021, but later moved it first to 2022, and finally was to announce its project at the Worldwide Developer Conference 2022. Eventually, we did not learn anything about the VR glasses during the conference, and no new information has been published to this date. Apparently, there are several problems: an overheating processor, a camera and software, and a disrupted supply chain.
A clash of giants
Both Meta and Apple are competing in a race to supply the best possible VR glasses that will enable us to enter the 3D world and open a door to the metaverse. When will we see the first model worth notice, and will it not be disrupted by unforeseen events related to functioning of the global economy? Monitor the market, because it is changing really fast, and maybe in 2023 we will receive from Apple a model enabling us to actively use the metaverse.
The metaverse – the change begins
In this article, we told you about the metaverse idea itself. How it can change our lives in terms of technologies, and when we can expect to see those changes. In subsequent articles, we will talk about social aspects of the metaverse and how we are prepared for moving to the next version of the Internet 3.0. We will also tell you about a dark side of the metaverse. And what do you think about the future of the Internet? Share your thoughts with us in your comments!