Typically, standards are published documents that establish specifications designed to maximize the reliability and/or safety of things we use every day. We can think of them as building blocks used to establish protocols that can be easily understood and adopted. This is not limited to manufacturing of cars, medical devices, or even food handling. There are business cases associated with software as well.
For example, competing software modeling application developers reference standards when making their applications so they can import and export commonly used model formats. Web page designers reference guidelines published to comply with requirements stipulated in Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act Amendments associated with accessibility. These aspects are of interest to Metaverse software developers.
Two standards organizations most people are familiar with are IEEE and ISO. Each of these, along with some smaller standards organizations, have some standards that apply to virtual world and virtual reality technology. Because the technology is emerging with the advancement of hardware and Internet technologies, existing standards need to be updated and new standards need to be written to address the emerging technology community needs. Software developers, grid owners, and content creators all have a vested interest in standards compliance because it facilitates interoperability and reduces "time-to-market".
At IMA, we narrow the view and focus on advancing virtual worlds and virtual reality software. We also recognize technology evolution can become stalled or abandoned when standards are not considered and users opt for other technologies that are standards compliant. It is not uncommon for open source or agile projects to not consider standards when developing new technologies and this creates issues associated with security, compatibility, portability, and adoption over the long term. We feel, in order to advance these technologies so that adoption becomes more pervasive, developers need to get together with creators and with the user community to discuss how bringing software into standards compliance can help move projects forward.
It is through the use of standards that the requirements for reliable, secure interconnectivity and interoperability can be assured for all participants. The application of standards can also verify the credibility of new products for customers. One of the problems we see right now is a lack of standards that cover every aspect of virtual world and virtual reality technologies. Together, we can change that so that all of the Metaverse software projects can benefit. Here is how this can work under R&D efforts at IMA:
Some people in the community, specifically researchers and developers, have had less than positive experiences with working groups that don't seem to get much done. Others may have found the approval processes involved were too cumbersome to be successful in the short term. For that reason, the above steps can seem complicated and overwhelming but IMA's hybrid structure reduces the complexity.
Because IMA is not a complicated non-profit or corporate entity, we have the flexibility needed to "change the game" so to speak. The working groups will be provided the necessary resources and facilitation to accomplish the tasks efficiently. We will also provide professional, transparent administration of grant funding. This allows the working groups to focus on their tasks without encountering the red tape often associated with research and development efforts in large associations.
Our first software standards topic will be developing an Inter-Grid Interoperability (IGI) standard for virtual worlds grid technologies. If you are interested in participating in a standards working group or have ideas for other working group R&D activities, please let us know! The first step is to join the Infinite Metaverse Alliance as we bring the resources online. Take a look at the "Join Us" menu up top and be sure to sign up for the Lists under the Member Projects menu! We will be setting up IMA member meetings to gather ideas from you as we build this organization from the ground up and the middle out.