Microsoft's ambition for the Metaverse
The company formerly known as Facebook, rocked the tech world and the entire world at large when it announced its rebranding and plans for the new metaverse. Not wanting to be left behind in the digital innovation race, tech giant Microsoft also announced the launching of Mesh for Teams – its video conferencing platform – early next year.
At the Microsoft Ignite conference, which was held on the 2nd of November, 2021, Satya Nadella explained, "Mesh for Microsoft Teams would allow you to connect with presence and have a shared immersive experience for Teams."
What this means – users would be able to join meetings in immersive spaces as a customized avatar of themselves.
What are Microsoft's plans for the Metaverse?
Slightly different, but still taking a bit of inspiration from the metaverse in Neal Stephenson's 1992 sci-fi novel, Microsoft has its own definition of the metaverse. Microsoft's idea of the metaverse is "a persistent, digital world that is connected to many aspects of the physical world, including people, places, and things." The metaverse would help bridge experiences between the physical and digital worlds.
With an extensive set of resources – of which Mesh is a part – Microsoft aims to promote this novel technology. Mesh, launching in 2022, would revolutionize human presence and connection in the online space. The collaborative tool for Microsoft Teams would allow users to create avatars (online digital characters) and choose to have these avatars represent them in online meetings.
In an interview with the Verge, Katie Kelly, principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh, gave insight on how Mesh works: "It's not binary, so I can choose how I want to show up, whether it's video or an avatar, and there's a variety of customized options to choose how you want to be present in a meeting."
Using AI, Microsoft will use your voice to animate your avatar. "We are able to interpret your vocal cues to animate that avatar, so it does feel present, and it does feel like it's there with you," Katie further explained.
The avatars can be used in 2D video meetings and 3D meetings in an immersive digital space with an interactive environment; it is in these digitally generated spaces where the Mesh integration really shines. Microsoft has plans for businesses in the metaverse, allowing them to create virtual spaces within Teams for people to network, socialize, and even collaborate on projects. The company is also reportedly implementing translation and transcription support so users can network with a co-worker halfway across the world without language barriers.
All of this is possible for people to use without the need for special equipment, although using VR or AR headsets would enhance the experience.
What this means for the NFT and crypto space at large
Although platforms like Decentraland, Sandbox, Star Atlas, and a few more have been doing a good job leading the Metaverse charge in NFTs and Crypto, the involvement of mega-companies like Microsoft is sure to attract more of the public's attention to the metaverse and also influence already existing Metaverse tokens.
For example, since the rise in popularity of the metaverse, Metaverse tokens like MANA and SAND have reached new all-time highs.
In today's physical world, we can already pay with cryptocurrency, create and trade NFTs and a lot more. Who knows what new doors of opportunity the Metaverse can open?