In the lead up to CES, I wrote a piece reflecting on top tech of CES 2012. It was an interesting exercise for a number of reasons — not the least of which was recalling the buzzwords from 10 years ago.
That year, LTE and ultrabooks topped the list. One had a great run. The other one, not so much. That is to say that the strength of buzz at CES in any given year isn’t predictive of longevity. By the middle of 2012, the stories around the death of the ultrabook had already begun in earnest.
This year, the halls of CES may have been fairly devoid of human life, but from the looks of things, one couldn’t walk a few feet without tripping over the metaverse. Just over two months after Facebook rebranded to Meta, a little metsploitation is to be expected at a show like CES, where companies are every bit as invested in a good hook as good product. In a show like this, it’s understandable — if you’re not a company like, say, Samsung or Hyundai, it’s difficult standing out. Of course, both of those giant brands never met a that they didn’t want to verse.
I’ll spare you the specifics on the smaller companies. This thread is a pretty well versed in the aforementioned meta. Frankly, I don’t want to blow up any startups for hoping they glean a little bit of that shine (though, if I’m being honest, “Goart Metaverse” is a phrase that is going to wedge itself into my psyche until my body releases the DMT into my brain in my final moments on Earth).
What I will say, for sure, is that if you didn’t know what a metaverse was prior to the start of CES, the show didn’t do a particularly good job clarifying — beyond the fact that it probably definitely includes some goofy looking Memojis and probably some VR equipment. And, actually, now that I’m typing that, I recognize that it’s probably as good a description of metaverse as any.
Receiving a press release from Hyundai titled, “Hyundai Motor Shares Vision of New Metamobility Concept, ‘Expanding Human Reach’ through Robotics and the Metaverse at CES 2022” may have been what pushed me over the edge. Or maybe it was the accompanying video of Boston Dynamics’ Spot hanging out on Mars with a bunch of weird metaverse puppets. It was surreal to see a borderline sci-fi video that involved sending an actual robot to actual Mars that still revolved around the metaverse.
Hyundai’s concept is nothing if not interesting, using advanced robots like the ones from Boston Dynamics to serve as real-world avatars for our metaversial interactions, but it also speaks to how much even ostensibly automotive companies are banking on this concept for the future. Samsung, meanwhile, offered a kind of stopgap metaverse (betaverse?) while we sit down and wait for the real one to shake out. Here it was a “virtual showcase” of the company’s wares, which, at very least, got around the very real irony of traveling to Las Vegas to get pitched the metaverse in-person.
The company notes:
Picture this: you’ve just been given the lifestyle TV you’ve always had on your wish list, home appliances that enhance your quality of life and the latest stylish smartphone. Now, what if we told you that you could use those innovative products to decorate your home?
It’s an interesting scenario to think about, and it will become a reality once the metaverse is up and running. Samsung Electronics has been innovating with the metaverse in various ways, and has created an option for those interested in CES 2022 to experience the event online.
It must be a confusing time to be among the most bullish on the metaverse. Everyone from beauty brands to wearables. It’s at once hopeful to see such excitement around the concept, but also frustrating to witness what may be an emerging metaverse of shit. That is to say, will the metaverse lose all meaning before there’s a metaverse to metaverse in? Your metaverse is as good as mine (metaverse).