As it looks toward the next big shift in digital connection, Facebook has established a new Metaverse product group, which will focus on building the platform's broader direction in the evolving space, including creator tools, virtual frameworks, advanced social features and more.
As explained by Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) chief Andrew Bosworth
"FRL has been focused on building products that deliver presence across digital spaces for years. Today Portal and Oculus can teleport you into a room with another person, regardless of physical distance, or to new virtual worlds and experiences. But to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces - so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next."
The new project group will work to establish key parameters in what's now become a key focus for The Social Network.
As noted, with Facebook looking to the next stage of digital connection, the Metaverse concept is set to play a key part, with the platform looking to facilitate whole new forms of online interaction based on your digital self.
The Metaverse, in a basic sense, is a virtual realm where your digital persona can exist, and interact, in a range of ways, within a whole new space. Various iterations of this have been developed over time, including projects like Second Life and the evolving VR space, but the Metaverse is a more all-encompassing version of the same, where, ultimately, you'll be able to feel like you're actually present with others in a broader digital space.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out the importance of the Metaverse in the company's plans last week, in an interview with The Verge.
As per Zuckerberg:
"The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies - the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it’s certainly not something that any one company is going to build, but I think a big part of our next chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to building that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers."
Indeed, Zuckerberg even noted that, over the next five years, he foresees Facebook evolving into 'a Metaverse company', with the digital realm set to incorporate all of Facebook's various tools and platforms into a broader, all-encompassing experience.
Which may also spark a level of concern, given the significant power that Facebook already holds over our everyday lives and inputs. But this is Zuckerberg's grand vision, and this new project group will be tasked with developing and advancing towards that next stage.
Further underlining this emphasis, and the importance that Facebook is placing on the project, it's allocated some senior company leaders to the new group.
"To focus our efforts and deliver on this vision, we are bringing together the teams that have been driving some of this fundamental work under the new Metaverse PG. I’m excited to welcome Vishal Shah, who joins us from Instagram to lead this new product group; Vivek Sharma, who joins us from FB Gaming, will lead the Horizon teams, and Oculus OG Jason Rubin, who also joins from FB Gaming, will lead the Content team as he and Vivek continue their work with FB Gaming partners on expanding the size and capabilities of Facebook’s gaming platforms."
Shah, in particular, has played a key role in developing Instagram's creator tools, which he will now transition across to this bigger phase.
Excited to share that I’ll be leading the new Metaverse product group we’re building. We’ve laid the groundwork for this in the last few years and I’m eager to bring these initiatives together, especially as a platform for creators and developers to build an entirely new economy https://t.co/FIOYj0vzY7— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) July 26, 2021
It's an ambitious project, and it still feels largely conceptual, as it's an unknown in many respects, given that we don't know, for sure, how the Metaverse concept will evolve.
But it is evolving, in many ways - from the expansion of eCommerce to the evolution of AR to the boom in virtual clothing and outfits, and branching into VR. Each of these elements, within itself, has major potential, and the Metaverse will look to merge them all into a singularity, further expanding opportunities for expression, creativity, connection and more.
It's a big, big concept, which is why Facebook is putting so much emphasis on it. And while you may not be able to envision it as yet, soon, it'll become very clear, and present.