Meta is giving its metaverse a significant AI upgrade. During its Connect conference in September, Meta unveiled a range of generative AI tools that will be tied into the metaverse. Key highlights include Meta AI, a versatile AI assistant capable of adopting various personalities, AI-driven image editing for Instagram, and tools for developers and businesses to create their own AI-powered bots. The company is also integrating AI into its hardware, with the Meta Quest 3 VR headset and Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses featuring the Meta AI assistant.
Mark Zuckerberg’s emphasis on social interaction and avatars in VR over the past two years has now evolved into an AI-focused metaverse vision. One particularly intriguing feature demonstrated at Connect was AI-powered search functionality in the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, allowing users to interact with the AI by showing objects and asking questions, similar to Google Lens.
This move to integrate AI across its various apps positions Meta to reach its vast user base more effectively, setting the stage for its AI-centric metaverse vision. With AI enhancements, the metaverse could become a significantly more practical and engaging platform for users, extending beyond virtual reality conferences into everyday life.¹
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has announced the establishment of a working group tasked with developing standards for the metaverse, as the nation seeks to be an international standards-setter for the technology. The MIIT has expressed concerns about the absence of clear regulations in the metaverse industry, emphasizing the need for standardization to foster healthy and organized growth.
The draft proposal, released by the MIIT, highlights the metaverse as one of China’s priority sectors for standardization. It attributes challenges facing the metaverse industry to the lack of precise definitions, which the MIIT says has led to market speculation.
According to the proposal, the MIIT envisions the metaverse as an innovative fusion of cutting-edge technologies, foreseeing its potential to generate novel business models, create fresh opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the global digital economy.²
Company Specific Updates
Meta Platforms Inc
Meta’s 3D virtual world, Horizon Worlds, is expanding its reach beyond VR headsets to include smartphones and computers. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the early access rollout of its first VR world to mobile and web platforms. The initial offering, “Super Rumble,” a free-for-all shooter game accommodating two to six players in five-minute matches, is now available.
While the early access is initially limited to a small user base on the web and the Meta Quest app for Android, an iOS launch is planned in the coming weeks. This expansion aims to make the Horizon Worlds experience available to a broader audience.
Currently, Meta’s social platform is only accessible in select countries, including Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the move to extend to mobile and web platforms suggests Meta’s ambition to attract a more global user base and diversify its offerings with additional experiences and worlds in the coming months.³
Roblox, the online platform known for user-generated games and social hangouts, is adapting to the changing demographics of its user base. With 65 million daily active users, roughly half of whom are under 17, the company is recognizing the maturation of its audience.
In a strategic bid to appeal to older users, Roblox has introduced animated video chat within its virtual world. This feature aims to blend the social interactions of platforms like Zoom and FaceTime with the creative essence of a gaming environment. By incorporating video chat, Roblox hopes to encourage older users to consider premium subscriptions or invest in its digital currency, Robux. This development marks a key step in Roblox’s evolution and reflects its commitment to retaining its core fanbase as they grow older while also attracting a broader adult audience.⁴
Investing in the Metaverse with MESH ETF
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Portfolio Strategy and Activity
For the month, Sea Ltd made the largest contribution to the Fund, followed by Ubisoft Entertainment SA and Synaptics Inc. The largest detractors to performance for the month were Matterport Inc, followed by eXp World Holdings Inc and Nvidia Corporation.
- Bell, K., “Meta’s metaverse is getting an AI makeover,” Engadget, September 28, 2023; https://www.engadget.com/metas-metaverse-is-getting-an-ai-makeover-194004996.html
- Ye, J., “China’s industry ministry to work on standards for the metaverse,” Reuters, September 18, 2023; https://www.reuters.com/technology/chinas-industry-ministry-work-standards-metaverse-2023-09-18/
- Ng, F., “Meta’s Horizon Worlds launches on mobile and web in early access,” Cointelegraph, September 15, 2023; https://cointelegraph.com/news/meta-horizon-worlds-launch-mobile-web-early-access
- Calore, M. & Goode, L., “Roblox Builds Out Its Metaverse Vision With Video Chat,” Wired, September 8, 2023; https://www.wired.com/story/gadget-lab-podcast-611/