Blending digital technologies like video conferencing, cryptocurrencies, virtual reality, social media, live-streaming, email, and gaming together, the Metaverse is set to change the way we live and work very soon! But what can we expect in terms of multilingualism and language in the Metaverse?
Yes, much of the technology required to make the Metaverse and its augmented reality work still has to be developed. But there are already indications that it’ll be a multilingual, international, virtual reality dimension of our world. And whenever there’s more than one language in the mix, there’s a need for translation and interpretation!
But before we get to that, let’s explore this new 3D virtual world!
Translating and Interpreting Language in the Metaverse
In his 2021 year-end blog, Bill Gates predicted that most virtual meetings would move from 2D camera grids to the Metaverse virtual world within a few years. He explained that the Metaverse’s virtual environments would serve as a digital world that replicates the feeling of being in the same room with others.
Gates admits that technology devices like VR headsets and motion-capture gloves will be essential to accurately capture participants’ expressions, body language, and voice quality in the Metaverse world. And since many people don’t own these Metaverse technology tools yet, it’ll slow down the adoption of Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
It’s not easy to describe the Metaverse because it doesn’t actually exist yet. We do know that it isn’t just one organization’s product. And it’s also not a game. In a sense, it’s like a 3D global web. This web brings businesses, information, and communication tools together.
Facebook, arguably the Metaverse’s most significant stakeholder, explains it in more simple terms as:
“The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
Within Metaverse platforms, you’ll be able to work and play with the help of VR technology. If you create your avatar with Microsoft Teams or Facebook, you’ll use that avatar to attend virtual meetings during office hours and interact with Metaverse apps. But after work, you can participate in virtual events. You’ll also be able to purchase cool gear for your avatar online using cryptocurrency, much like you buy something online in the real world.
Who is Developing the Metaverse?
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is the biggest investor, but this isn’t the only big name that’s chipping in on the Metaverse development. Nvidia’s Omniverse platform aims to create and power some of the frameworks for Metaverse technology.
Unity Software is also in it. Video game developers like Roblox Corp., Epic Games Inc., and Microsoft Corp are developing their technologies to create Metaverse platforms as well. TikTok’s ByteDance Ltd. invested in Pico (VR headset maker) to get into the Metaverse too. Just like the mobile apps we all use today, we’re expecting to see a variety of Metaverse apps in the near future.
We’re also seeing the rise of specialist consultancies that are focused on helping companies move into the Metaverse. And of course, there will be a range of payment providers and cryptocurrencies involved since there’s going to be a need to facilitate cross-virtual-border transactions.
Where Does the Concept Come From?
The Metaverse concept isn’t something we haven’t heard of before. It’s based on films like “The Matrix” and “Ready Player One,” which all highlight key themes. Then there was Second Life, which used metaverse concepts like 3D worlds, digital economies, and workplaces. The same goes for Minecraft. What Metaverse aims to do is to connect all the building blocks from competing businesses and creators.
How Virtual Reality Affects Language in the Metaverse and Physical World
We’re assuming that virtual realities like the Metaverse are designed for adults that speak a variety of languages. And a fairly obvious way to deal with the language barrier is simultaneous translation and interpretation. We’re not sure if this will involve text displayed within the virtual space, a disembodied voice, or an avatar representing a human linguist.
But here’s the catch: “real-time” interpretations and translations will inevitably involve delays because a) it takes time to perform translations and b) computer processing times. One also has to consider if there will be a waiting period to have your conversation translated during social interactions. And more importantly, will each of us have our own personal translators when we enter the Metaverse? If so, it could create endless employment opportunities for linguists.
Two Possibilities with Augmented Reality
As far as the effect virtual realities could have on language learning goes, it’s a double-sided coin.
On the one hand, it could be very beneficial for people trying to learn a new language. You can look at it as an immersive language learning experience. And we all know that immersive learning experiences are most beneficial. But on the other hand, it can also remove the motivation to learn new languages at all since there will be nearly simultaneous, although somewhat delayed, translations for every language.
How Much AI Interpretation Do Virtual Worlds Need?
We’ve already noticed how machine translation impacted the human translation industry. So, we’re predicting that artificial intelligence-powered translations will play an essential role in Metaverse’s augmented reality. However, despite improved accuracy levels, machine translation won’t replace humans when it comes to sensitive subjects and high-stakes matters.
You wouldn’t trust a machine to translate multi-million dollar negotiations, would you?
Human accountability and trust will always be necessary when it comes to bridging the language barrier.
New Opportunities for Language Translations
Yes, the Metaverse will change and affect the interpretation market. But AI and human translating and interpreting in the Metaverse will be complimentary, not a zero-sum equation.
Virtual remote interpreting is a trend we all grew accustomed to since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are, it will likely flourish in the Metaverse. On-demand interpreting and translation services will serve as foundations for multilingual events in this virtual reality space. But since technology still has to catch up, all we can do at the moment is speculate.
Technology and language are intrinsically connected. And it will be interesting to see what impact these new technologies have on the translation industry. Multilingualism in the Metaverse is a topic that we’re keeping close tabs on. In fact, translations in the Metaverse are set to be dynamic and unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. As technology keeps evolving, so do language solutions, and Day Translations is excited to be a part of this vibrant future!