The intense industry interest in the metaverse flows from the opportunities that will be created by combining multiple disruptive technologies such as GPU-powered real-time photorealistic graphics and physical simulation, Augmented and Virtual Reality, decentralized trust-and-storage, and Artificial Intelligence. An unprecedented level of interoperability will be needed for these technologies to work together, necessitating a constellation of open standards created by dozens of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs).
The Metaverse Standards Forum is enabling a new level of industry coordination that is generating insights into the metaverse landscape—including what interoperability standards will have the greatest impact, and what business opportunities they will create. The Forum is NOT another SDO, but is enabling diverse SDOs to gather input, share progress, and cooperate with industry to identify needs and next steps to encourage, influence, and accelerate the evolution of effective, timely, open metaverse standards.
This unique approach to fostering cooperation has brought together over 2,100 leading companies and SDOs at the Forum since its creation in the summer of 2022, providing a unique opportunity for widespread visibility, coordination and alignment on metaverse standards with a level of participation that can make a significant difference in the industry.
Metaverse Standards Forum and the Domain Group Pipeline
But of course, such a wide and diverse membership also creates interesting challenges on how to best organize for effective action and decision-making. To ensure its activities are grounded in real industry needs, and that all voices and opinions are considered, the Forum has created a four-step Domain Group Pipeline process:
- Gather input from the Forum membership on interoperability ‘Topics’ that present the biggest obstacles to an open metaverse, or offer the most significant opportunities for standardization to build business opportunities. In the first round, a broad spectrum of over 200 Topics were suggested, covering everything from technical interoperability of standardized API and formats, to metaverse ethics, privacy and education.
- Group related Topics into ‘Domains’ that the Forum membership votes on, creating a prioritized Domain List. So far there are over twenty Domains, with Privacy/Safety, 3D Asset Interoperability and Real/Virtual World Integration being voted to the top three spots.
- Any Forum member may propose Exploratory Groups to address interoperability topics in the Domains with the highest member interest. If approved, each Exploratory Group is tasked with building consensus on what pragmatic projects and activities can best progress interoperability in a particular Domain, and capturing those insights in a draft Working Group Charter. The Forum encourages Charters that identify pragmatic projects with short-term deliverables that drive well-defined interoperability benefits.
- Approved Working Groups execute the projects and activities in their Charter, making any deliverables publicly and openly available. Forum Working Groups prioritize projects that produce concrete outputs, including guidelines and recommendations, open-source tooling, interoperability testing results, and use case/requirement documents to assist and foster relevant SDOs in their mission to create and evolve widely adopted metaverse-relevant standards.
Forum Exploratory and Working Groups
In its first few months, the Forum has initiated a pipeline of member-driven Exploratory and Working Groups that are meeting regularly to create Charters and execute the projects they define. Any Forum member is welcome to participate in, or stand for election to lead, any Forum Exploratory or Working Group.
Metaverse Standards Register (approved Working Group)
Building a public Database, or Register, mapping the landscape of metaverse-related standardization activities and open standards. Also creating a Metaverse Standards Glossary to enable the metaverse community to communicate clearly, concisely and consistently about components and concepts captured in the Register. The Register will provide public web-based interfaces for SDOs to upload and update their activities, and for any user to search, filter and sort its contents to enable easier identification of metaverse standardization initiatives—and connections and gaps between them.
3D Asset Interoperability using USD and glTF (approved Exploratory Group)
Working for alignment and cooperation between USD and glTF file formats to increase synergy and reduce duplication of effort, gaps, fragmentation, and industry confusion. The Exploratory Group is first collecting metaverse use cases for real-time 3D asset interoperability, such as authoring, delivery, and hybrid/integrated experiences, including end-user-created 3D content, individual assets, and scene containers of assets. The group is also exploring requirements for expanding the scope of 3D asset definitions from geometry and materials to behaviors, sound, physics, and composition, etc. From there, the Exploratory Group will review the current capabilities of USD and glTF to meet these use cases and make recommendations for cooperation. The group also plans interoperability testing to analyze and exercise this work.
Digital Fashion Wearables for Avatars (approved Exploratory Group)
Generate insights and interoperability on Digital Fashion including clothing (with a layering system), shoes, hats, and accessories. The group is surveying the current landscape of existing file formats for storing avatars and related assets, generating use cases and requirements for avatar customisation, and defining logic for a wearables system including dress up, dress down, and replace options. The group is also considering developing an open source avatar validation tool for reliable import and export from popular authoring tools such as Blender.
Digital Asset Management (approved Exploratory Group)
Exploring the standards landscape relating to the protection of digital rights, portability, access, availability, and other areas impacting the management of digital virtual assets. The group is aiming to establish guiding principles that would address the transport, exchange, monetization, and access related to 3D digital assets throughout the metaverse stack.
Interoperable Characters/Avatars (approved Exploratory Group)
To identify and prioritize use cases for character/avatar interoperability across multiple industries such as film, gaming, fashion and social, and platforms such as web, mobile, console, and XR. Will generate recommendations for a standardized character/avatar file format that can be dynamically loaded in multiple run times while maintaining consistent appearance, behaviors and animations.
Network Requirements and Capabilities (approved Exploratory Group)
To collect use cases and related requirements for network capabilities to support metaverse applications, e.g. latency, jitter, throughput, time synchronization. Includes documenting applicable QoE metrics and defining requirements for network-to-network interfaces such as atomic clock synchronization from satellite to backbone to access network.
Privacy, Cybersecurity & Identity (approved Exploratory Group)
Approved with very strong interest from the Forum members, the urgent priority of this group is to deliver recommendations for responsible innovation that mitigates human and societal harm from objective and subjective privacy risks – including privacy, cybersecurity, and identity risk management at the global level. The Exploratory Group will curate standards, guidelines, policies, and technical frameworks for various metaverse-related use cases and across various jurisdictions.
Real/Virtual World Integration (approved Exploratory Group)
Defining constructs to describe and integrate the physical world and created (digital) representations. The group is examining current technologies and standards around semantic representations, Unique Real-world Identifiers, OGC GeoPose 1.0, Digital Twins, IoT, WoT, and Sensor ontologies to understand and recommend technical methods to integrate created content with reality.
Since its founding in mid-2022, The Metaverse Standards Forum has fostered an unprecedented level of regular, open dialogue among the standards development community and wider industry that share complementary interoperability goals. These efforts have the potential to significantly accelerate the development of key enabling technologies for the metaverse, and help the industry plot and follow a path toward metaverse openness and ease of use.
The Metaverse Standards Forum intends to succeed through pragmatic, measurable progress—aiming to create new business opportunities with every interoperability challenge that is resolved.
Now is the time to get involved! All companies, standards organizations, industry associations, and universities with an interest in the metaverse are invited to join the Forum and engage in these open discussions and projects. There is no membership fee, no IP licensing commitment, and no minimum time commitment to participate. Members are encouraged to join, suggest, and lead Forum activities that further their business or mission.
If the Metaverse Standards Forum and its members are successful, they will accelerate the availability of a safe and interoperable metaverse through fostering the availability of timely, enabling, open standards to the benefit of all.