Metaverse: Are we heading towards a human-machine interface revolution?

The gradual arrival of the metaverses arouses as much apprehension as excitement. Among this flood of questions, the question relating to the type of interface they offer is mentioned very little among all those raised so far. This aspect is nevertheless essential as it lays the future foundations of the relationship that man has with the machine.

From touch to immersion: learning by error is making a comeback

In recent decades, the use of touch has become the majority and is widely acclaimed in the design of many digital tools. In the world of human-machine interfaces, touch is akin to natural learning while the computer mouse is more like learning by error. Let’s face it, touch is like an extension of our body that accelerates the development of new faculties within our brain. All these interfaces, put end to end, manage to create a post-digital brain.

That being said, the emergence of the concept of metaverse has somewhat upset the trend observed so far in the use of interfaces. The designers of this technology are making a daring bet, that of returning to an interface involving several tools, here the VR headset, among others. By appealing to a large part of the senses, the interface of the metaverses creates an unprecedented immersion which, in a way, restores learning by error. An evolution that raises questions because the technological trend is to reduce the number of devices between man and machine while largely devoting natural learning. However, the interface offered by the metaverses constitutes a real step backwards, capable of excluding the least “digital” brains. And without forgetting the high cost as well as the discomfort of this dedicated equipment which excludes automatically a large part of the population.

An evolution that is not a revolution

Let’s be clear, from a technological point of view, the metaverse is not a revolution. We are seeing more of an overlapping of existing technologies than a real break with what has been done so far. The expectations concerning its field of application are immense, sometimes oversized, but this does not detract from the multiplicity of uses provided for by the concept of metaverse. It is moreover on this aspect that it constitutes a major and decisive development for the future.

Its interface will appeal to a large number of senses, making it possible to vary the uses both in terms of entertainment and professionally. Immersion, the spearhead of this technology, will make it possible to train for certain trades or certain tasks in order to save time and acquire the necessary skills more quickly. In this, the metaverse represents a major turning point, symbol of a stage which will give the main orientations as to the type of interface that manufacturers will wish to develop and democratize in the years to come.

The advent of immersion

This is one of the lessons of the arrival of metaverses on the market. The ambition to offer an immersive experience is a real open door to one or more technological leaps in interface design. If the VR headset is the next step, the tools will evolve to be less and less restrictive and more intuitive in their handling. By projecting ourselves a little, we can well imagine the hologram taking a more important place in the decades to come or seeing the direct neural interfaces, via the taking of a chemical substance for example, being more accepted in society, at the image of Elon Musk’s still highly contested Neuralink project. Beyond questions relating to future uses, it is now certain that immersive interfaces will be the standard of tomorrow. Our bond with the machine becomes more and more visceral and it is to wonder what will be the end point of this evolution. Perhaps we will witness an unprecedented evolution in the history of Humanity, namely the emergence of a meta-brain with new abilities.

The fascination for novelty must however be tempered by the few reservations and warnings formulated against the concept of the metaverse. Immersive interfaces, although promising, can also lead to abuses such as a form of dependence on this technology or societal isolation of the youngest. These behaviors must also condition the uses in order to avoid irreversible consequences on the way our brain apprehends this immersive aspect. Furthermore, the democratization of these interfaces also raises real questions about the protection of privacy and intimacy as well as the solidity of the legal framework relating thereto. So many aspects that must be taken into account so as not to transform a technology of the future into a source of societal problems.

Tribune written by David Begasse – Development Department – ​​SII Group

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