Today, you probably know the Internet as a series of web pages, tweets, and lots of email. But with the rise of virtual reality headsets, companies like Facebook think that will change. You might soon “browse the web” in a place called the metaverse–a second reality rendered in 3-D.
Lucidscape is a company that’s playing with what such an Internet might look like. They’re building an open source, 3-D graphics engine that can be shared across servers. In other words, rather than rendering a website or video game on a single computer at a time (as most graphics engines do today), all of the world’s servers could combine to construct one giant, seamless world, where millions of us may flock, virtually, to see a concert, or walk on the streets of digital Times Square.
Carrying out a series of astounding stress tests, Lucidscape ramped up to simulate 10 million people traversing in the shared 3-D space provided by 800 servers. The result looks like you’re flying at light speed through a grid of planets, or maybe visiting the latest Yayoi Kusama exhibit.
Of course, Lucidscape isn’t claiming that the metaverse will look like this particular celestial experience. They’re just constructing a testable visual framework of spheres, satellites, and portals–rendered elements to ensure the integrity of their code will hold up at scale. What you’re looking at is less the next Internet than it is the Big Bang of the metaverse. It’s up to designers–professional and armchair alike–to arrange trillions of polygons to decide what that Internet will actually look like. Will it be a parallel to our own world, with virtual cities filled with fantastic architecture? Or will it just be a bunch of web pages in 3-D?