Lenovo Tech World: Creating the Practical Metaverse

With all of Meta’s pratfalls in creating the consumer metaverse, many are writing off this new technology as overhyped and under-executed. But companies like Lenovo on the enterprise side are making solid progress. At Lenovo Tech World this month, Lenovo’s executive staff, particularly their CTO Yong Rui, were on point in their efforts to turn the metaverse from a poorly formed concept into a practical reality, but for business and government first where there’s enough need to create a solution that is much closer to the promise of the metaverse than the consumer market will currently accept.  

Let’s talk about how Lenovo is helping create the metaverse for business this week.

The photorealistic avatar

One of the biggest complaints about the approach that Meta is making on its massively funded metaverse efforts is that the result looks cartoonish, and the human avatars don’t even have legs. They tend to look like floating, inhuman ghosts. While the latest headset does a nice job of capturing facial expressions, that advantage is lost because the avatars are annoyingly crude.

What Lenovo showcased was a room 3D scanner solution that could, on the fly, create a photorealistic human avatar and demonstrated their extensive knowledge of advanced workstations to better render photorealistic environments to frame the metaverse. Lenovo’s AMD Threadripper workstation has taken the market by storm and could be used to help create photorealistic metaverse environments that fully replicate actual meeting rooms or create new ones (I’m thinking it would be cool to have a meeting room that looked like it was both real and in the bat cave.  

Other technologies would allow you to both better interact with more realistic co-workers while assuring your image is always properly dressed, and regardless of where you are actually looking, you have created the perception of eye contact.  

Creating the metaverse

One of the interesting things about the CTO’s talk was his understanding of the fundamentals of the metaverse and how someone that was looking to create a Metaverse instance might go about it. He laid out four critical steps:

  1. First, you need to establish an environmental framework. He called this “creating layers” so you had a place to put objects and so a subsequent user could navigate through the emerging virtual world.
  2. Then you’d need a geometric structure for the world, think of this kind of like a wire frame representation that would allow you to plan out and initially position the major metaverse elements.
  3. Then you’d need to apply textures in order to make the structures look real. This is what turns the clearly computer-generated elements into their digital twin or a photorealistic representation of what was imagined. 
  4. And finally, he indicated you’d need to code rules that defined the space. He called this “Object Semantics”, but it refers to establishing how things in the metaverse would interact with others and what physical rules (like gravity) might be built into the experience.  

The combination of these elements would be a realistic, metaverse-based environment that could be nearly identical to something in the real world, but would only be limited by the imagination of the user.  

Wrapping up:

Lenovo showcased several things at its Tech World this month. One of them was a roll-up screen laptop which looked awesome but is a ways from coming to market. What most interested me was their conversations about the metaverse and the effort to fix the bad avatar problem that most metaverse creation efforts struggle with. 

I think Lenovo’s implantation of a 3D scanner and photorealistic expressive avatars is a metaverse game changer and a host of tools which include AR, VR glasses, and head-mounted displays isn’t matched by any other major vendor, indicating that Lenovo is playing to lead the market in this space this year. For a fraction of Facebook’s spend, it’s much closer to what the market seems to expect the metaverse should be.  

In short, Lenovo demonstrated that the metaverse for business is nearly ready at the very time Meta is showcasing that the metaverse for consumers is not. Interesting times…