Ning ZhangElectrical and computer engineering professor Ning Zhang is charting a path to take virtual reality from science fiction to daily reality.

Privacy and scalability among challenges to metaverse: researchers

The next wave of the internet will completely change how people connect, communicate, and play by submerging them in a virtual world, says professor Ning Zhang.

But in “A Survey on Metaverse: Fundamentals, Security, and Privacy,” an article co-authored with colleagues from Xi’an Jiaotong University and the University of Waterloo, he warns that this immersive arena is still developing to its full potential, so making forecasts is difficult.

A professor in the UWindsor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Zhang points to the significant investment of major corporations like Apple and Meta in technologies like virtual reality.

However, he cautions that significant preparation is needed before widespread immersion is possible. Completely redesigned infrastructure, reliable data storage options, strict security protocols, and privacy safeguards are essential elements that require careful consideration.

“The applications of the metaverse are broad, impacting education, e-commerce, and remote working,” he says. “Retailers, for instance, can leverage the immersive experience to create virtual stores, allowing customers to browse and try products before purchasing. In the realm of remote work, the metaverse promises more engaging and efficient collaboration than traditional video conferencing.

“These advancements underscore the transformative potential of the metaverse as we navigate the path toward interconnected virtual experiences.”

Among the challenges to be overcome are limited network capacity and bandwidth, the protection of sensitive date, and safeguarding of user privacy.

Immersive technologies are still in the development stage and the immense architecture they necessitate will require efficiencies in cloud and edge computing. His paper lays out directions for research that will help take the metaverse from science fiction to reality.

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