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VR Metaverse 3D rendering

A Look at the Technical Realities of the MetaVerse

Nov. 16, 2022
The metaverse has been billed as the future of the Internet and a prime catalyst in changing how we work, communicate, seek information, and consume content and services. But that future and its direction remain unclear.

Overview: Merging the Real With the Virtual

The metaverse, a term coined in the 1990s, has burst onto the scene and captured the minds and imaginations of many. It has been billed as the future of the Internet, a catalyst and foundation that will usher in the next transformative changes that will shape how we work, communicate, seek information, and consume content and services.

As with most transformative changes, the vision of this metaverse future comes with a wide range of opinions and perspectives on how, what, when, and where the metaverse will have its most significant impacts.

The metaverse is also a long-term vision and, therefore, carries elements of uncertainty, which when coupled with the diversity in opinion, can engender a healthy dose of skepticism. While some may view the metaverse negatively, believing it is overhyped and nothing more than a temporary fad, these perspectives tend to come from a position that too narrowly defines the metaverse (e.g., primarily virtual world-driven), relies on inputs that too heavily weigh current market activity (e.g., crypto market issues), or only considers the longer-term future without regard to the necessary layering and buildup to the metaverse.

Even though the buildup to the metaverse will take time, it is based upon pre-existing market trends that, irrespective of what one chooses to call this future, at a minimum, is building toward something akin to the metaverse.

At its foundation, the metaverse broadly speaks to the convergence of connectivity, computing, and intelligence across networks, applications, and workflows.

Building upon this groundwork are the key technology pillars, which include:

3D and Web3:

The transition from a Two-Dimensional (2D) to a 3D-based Internet is at the core of the metaverse. It speaks to the merging of the real and virtual worlds and the depth of immersion. Web3 represents the decentralization, interoperability, and accessibility of the metaverse, bringing about new business models and classes of assets, such as digital goods. 3D will place additional demands on computing and computing resources (e.g., ultra-low latency and high data demands), while Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a critical factor in 3D content generation and accessibility.

New and Updated Internet Protocols (IPs):

New demands on latency and data will require updated, if not new, IPs to accommodate the new modes of communication and channels for media & entertainment. 


The next-generation mobile technology will be critical to accommodate the expansive number of connected devices and sensors, supporting both the heightened demands on traffic and latency requirements stemming from next-generation metaverse experiences. 6G networks will also be the nexus point for the convergence of connectivity, intelligence, and computing at the edge.

Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR):

AR/VR represents the continuum from fully virtual to the merging of real and virtual worlds. The Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) provide a new User Interface (UI) and in the case of AR, makes the strongest case for extending the metaverse into public spaces as an always-on device. Smart glasses will drive demand to the network edge, and cloud/hybrid Extended Reality (XR) will further create a network (and computing) demands on data traffic and ultra-low latencies to drive cloud-based applications, data storage, personalization, and interactivity.

Distributed Computing and Networks:

These make 3D accessible (content creation and rendering) and pervasive, requiring significantly higher orders of computing resources. The need for ultra-low latencies and diversity of experiences will also require flexible and massively scalable computing resources that will span devices, from the network edge to the cloud. Computing resources will also be required within the network to bring intelligence and network optimizations.

AI/Machine Learning (ML):

AI will bring intelligence to networks (and data management, workflows, etc.), make content creation accessible (including digital twins and simulations), drive personalization, and power interactivity and communications (e.g., digital humans and virtual assistants, immersive collaboration).

The buildup to the metaverse deserves more attention than it typically receives, but the longer-term future also raises equally compelling opportunities and potential issues.

Huawei published a paper in 2020 that considered emerging and future use cases and argued the need for new networking protocols for a future Internet to support these applications. While the paper does not mention the word metaverse, the authors’ vision aligns well with this future, which similarly seeks to define the next generation of the Internet that transitions to 3D and merges the real and virtual.

To this end, the authors discussed how today’s versions of communications and immersive will become tomorrow’s “Holographic Type Communications” (HTC) built upon a technological foundation that supports “Instantaneous Teleportation Systems” (ITS) and “Trustable Network Infrastructure” (TNI). These future applications will require high-volume data exchanges (Terabits per Second (Tbps)) and traffic to support new personal data management systems and immersive communications and workflows, many at super-ultra-low latencies (sub 1 Millisecond (ms)).

With targets like these, it is clear the future (2030 and beyond) will need to evolve current IPs (or develop new ones) to support these use cases. Before this future arrives, however, the buildup to the metaverse needs to reach its potential. The potential exists, but the metaverse may not live up to the most optimistic expectations if a number of technology and business challenges are not addressed and if the entire technology ecosystem is not aligned to address these challenges.

However, the metaverse is not an all-or-nothing proposition, it is likely to evolve in stages, and the industry will progressively embrace some elements of it as enabling technologies and business models to mature. This presents opportunities throughout this process to layer in new services, experiences, standards, and protocols to continue building toward this future.

This whitepaper examines the market conditions building toward this future and highlights market opportunities brought by the transition toward the metaverse. It identifies the potential hurdles that could delay progress or alter the metaverse’s direction and provides guidance on how the industry should align to address these hurdles. The odds are in favor of a future metaverse due to the existing foundation in both the consumer and enterprise markets.

To continue reading this white paper, click the download button below.