With Mark Zuckerberg changing, or revealing, the course he wants to take VR with his company, I want to just share my experiences with and surrounding Oculus VR and how many challenges it still has to overcome before the metaverse can take over.
The biggest challenge will be society itself. How do you convince people like my 50-year-old dad who can barely turn on his laptop that they will start having meetings and doing their job in a virtual environment using a VR headset? I had a little chat over dinner about metaverse and my dad said that he could never see himself using it solely because it is something that doesn’t seem logical to him. There is office space dedicated to the company he works for, he can work from home on a laptop just fine, and he quite likes being able to physically see and interact with his coworkers.
The next challenge is that the software is not as well made as would be needed. As of now, I find that Oculus gear is far from easy to deal with. It started with having to wait an hour before the headset and the Oculus app could find each other’s Bluetooth signal. If I hadn’t found a very specific Reddit thread that explained to me that it was simply because I have a Google phone I am pretty sure I would’ve had to try and get customer support which is notoriously bad. Recently my Oculus link decided to stop working and the error message told me it was simply my GPU drivers, the software supporting my graphics card, being outdated. However, I keep mine as up to date as possible. So after a “just in case” reinstall, I was at a loss since it was definitely not my GPU drivers. Sadly, the error message and the error page the message sent me to kept insisting that it had to be my GPU drivers. Another Reddit deep-dive and some help from a more tech-savvy friend were needed before we found it was a combination of the latest windows update and my CPU drivers. I didn’t even know CPUs had drivers! I can’t imagine most people would be able to solve issues like this on their own, especially not if the error page Oculus sends you to is not even related to the issue.
The final challenge is one that affects more than just Zuckerberg’s virtual dream, and that challenge is the availability of resources. If he wants as much of the working force to be working in VR and everyone else to be interacting through VR, he is going to have to find a lot of resources for making millions to billions of Oculus VR headsets. I’ll focus on the resource materials, but besides materials, there will need to be a massive network of people for support, building headsets, and innovation. The biggest challenge in resources will be overcoming the silicon shortage. Silicon is used in many parts, from the cover to the lenses to the inner parts of the headsets. There is already a shortage due to a great demand for computers and Zuckerberg will need to find a way to supply himself with enough silicon if he wants everyone to have one of these headsets.
So if Zuckerberg wants metaverse to become the next big thing he will need to overcome and work on three big challenges. How is he going to convince people that working in VR is worth it? How are we all supposed to use and understand VR if the software is so unintuitive? And most importantly, how is he going to make all these headsets? I for one can’t see myself working in VR. These headsets are currently way too heavy to wear for extended periods of time and the software keeps failing. What about you? Would you work in VR or does it seem like too big a hassle?
I have been thinking about the meta verse and the obstacles it still has to overcome, so it was great to read your blog! You offer some concrete takes on why, against all sci-fi predictions, VR hasn’t taken off yet. I think your examples come down to the fact that, the real life aspects to VR (customer service, resources, user habit etc.) are overlooked. Nonetheless, I believe that these things are quite easily fixable. Our generation will have less trouble with getting accustomed to the digital working space and Zuck could invest in better customer service. I think that the biggest obstacle of VR is that, how good it can be, it’s inherently unauthentic. In our culture, we are consequently looking for things and contact that is authentic. I can never see myself getting involved in the meta verse, simply because I will know it’s not real and would rather live in the harsh, ‘real’ world. This could be an unbeatable obstacle for Zuck and his meta verse.