4 things you need to know about the metaverse this week

This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse.

This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse. Image: Microsoft

Cathy Li
Head, AI, Data and Metaverse; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse.
  • Below you'll find insights and opinions on how this emerging technology could transform the way we work, make purchases and spend our leisure time.

1. INTERPOL has launched its own metaverse space

The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL, has unveiled a metaverse space designed specifically for police officers around the world.

Immersive training courses in forensic investigation and other policing skills will be on offer in the INTERPOL Metaverse. Registered users will also be able to take a tour of a virtual version the organization's headquarters in Lyon, France, and interact with other police officers around the world.

“For many, the metaverse seems to herald an abstract future, but the issues it raises are those that have always motivated INTERPOL – supporting our member countries to fight crime and making the world, virtual or not, safer for those who inhabit it,” INTERPOL Secretary-General Jürgen Stock said at the launch event.

Crime has increasingly moved online as the pace of digitalization has increased, according to INTERPOL’s new Global Crime Trend report. The organization also says that criminals are already trying to exploit the metaverse, and that such activity is likely to rise and expand as user numbers increase.

According to INTERPOL criminals are already trying to exploit the metaverse, and that such activity is likely to rise and expand as user numbers increase.
According to INTERPOL criminals are already trying to exploit the metaverse, and that such activity is likely to rise and expand as user numbers increase. Image: INTERPOL

INTERPOL is partnering the World Economic Forum and leading voices from the private sector, civil society, academia and policy to define the parameters of an economically viable, interoperable, safe and inclusive metaverse.

2. More and more law firms are entering the metaverse

Increasing numbers of law firms are setting up shop in the metaverse, according to The Financial Times.

“Where clients go, law firms typically follow. So lawyers are opening offices in virtual worlds as a way of connecting with technology clients and entrepreneurs who are increasingly doing business there,” the newspaper says.

Legal industry media platform Law.com says that lawyers are also entering the metaverse to boost their profitability and keep pace with evolving legal trends.

Intellectual property and copyright are likely to be the first metaverse issues facing legal teams, Thomson Reuters technologist and futurist Joseph Raczynski says, but adds that insurance and contractual disagreements could become more prominent areas later on.

The Thomson Reuters Institute’s Emerging Legal Technology Forum earlier this month looked at how traditional legal questions still loom large when it comes to the metaverse. Panellist Yinka Oyelowo, principal lawyer at Canada-based Yinka Law, raised questions about who would take ownership of a piece of metaverse property if the original owner passes away, given that the metaverse and blockchain technology “simplifies a lot of the processes that we see in real estate”.

She also suggested that users dealing in the metaverse ask for real-world identity documents from the person behind the avatar, not just the avatar itself.

3. User numbers below target for Meta’s flagship metaverse app

The challenges surrounding metaverse uptake have been generating much online conversation in recent weeks, in the build-up to Meta announcing its highly anticipated third-quarter results on 26 October.

User numbers for the company’s Horizon Worlds metaverse app are not growing as quickly as Meta had hoped, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company was at first targeting 500,000 monthly active users by the end of this year, but it has recently dropped that goal to 280,000 as its actual numbers are running below 200,000, according to internal documents obtained by the newspaper.

A Meta spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that the company’s metaverse efforts “were always intended to be a multiyear project”.

New technologies are often adopted slowly at first, as McKinsey points out. “Penetration for recent breakthroughs such as smartphones, tablets, and social media grew from 20% to 50% in only a handful of years,” it says. “The adoption curve to date [for VR technology] follows the trajectory of other technologies.”

Devices enabling immersive experiences in the metaverse have low penetration today, but they are following mainstream device adoption curves
Metaverse technologies are being adopted at the same pace as other new technologies have been, according to McKinsey. Image: McKinsey & Company

When it comes to the metaverse, McKinsey believes users’ desire for better usability will drive tech companies to create the spaces that consumers want. “Our analysis of existing platforms indicates that there is a high correlation between users expecting a realistic experience and frequency of use,” it adds.

4. Virtual meeting rooms: Microsoft puts Teams apps on Meta devices

Microsoft and Meta technologies are coming together in an area of the metaverse that is seen as ripe for development following the shift to hybrid work patterns – virtual meeting spaces.

Microsoft is making its Mesh mixed-reality feature for the Teams messaging app available on Meta Quest headsets, along with its Microsoft 365 apps. This means that not only will people be able to hold virtual Teams meetings using the headsets, but they will also be able to use Word, Excel and other Microsoft programs in VR.

Microsoft and Meta technologies are coming together in an area of the metaverse that is seen as ripe for development following the shift to hybrid work patterns – virtual meeting spaces.
Microsoft and Meta technologies are coming together in an area of the metaverse that is seen as ripe for development following the shift to hybrid work patterns – virtual meeting spaces. Image: Microsoft

Research suggests that remote workers involved in hybrid meetings are more likely to be overlooked than people in the main office space. Creating more of a level playing field in terms of the meeting environment could help solve this and other “persistent problems associated with remote employment”, according to Mastercard.

And with organizations as large as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggesting that virtual meetings will be part of their future, any technology that can make these meetings easier to conduct has the potential to find a wide audience.

“Over the past two-and-a-half years, new patterns of work have emerged that put people, communications, and workflows at the centre,” Microsoft says. “People crave deeper, richer ways of collaborating and co-creating from wherever they are.”

More on the metaverse from Agenda

As INTERPOL knows, crime is already happening in the metaverse, but how can we police a virtual world with no borders and no bodies? This blog takes a look at some of the most obvious metaverse security concerns we need to be aware of right now.

What are the pros and cons of working in the metaverse? It can boost collaboration and improve training, but it may also reduce concentration and increase the likelihood of depression, this blog says.

As the metaverse grows, so does the need to ensure advertisers are using it responsibly. Here we take a look at three ways to ensure accessibility, user experience and privacy are built into metaverse advertising strategies.

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