IEEE Network SI

Special Issue Name: IEEE Network Special Issue on Networking Challenges and Opportunities for Multi-user XR and the Metaverse
Paper Submission Deadline: 15 December 2022


Immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR, and MR), which are often referred to as a universal term - extended reality (XR), have enabled numerous appealing applications in education, training, entertainment, healthcare, etc. While recent research on immersive computing and communication has focused mainly on improving the quality of experience for single-user scenarios, the emerging applications enabled by XR, especially the burgeoning Metaverse, naturally involve multiple geographically distributed users. Although there is still no commonly agreed definition, a narrow illustration of the Metaverse is a utopian convergence of various virtual environments, by connecting them via the Internet to facilitate social interaction among users. Thus, social VR platforms such as Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Microsoft’s AltspaceVR have been deemed as the early prototypes of the Metaverse. Besides social VR, the industry has been heavily investing in multi-user XR/Metaverse for creating novel hardware, software, and content. For example, the Metaverse Standards Forum has been formed in 2022 with members including tech giants such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Nvidia. Other existing standards organizations such as World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have created working groups for XR. However, there is still limited research on understanding the technical challenges and opportunities for boosting the performance of multi-user XR and the Metaverse by leveraging recent advances in deep learning, edge computing, 5G, etc. For example, there is no software framework with commonly used building blocks for designing and implementing multi-user XR systems, and there is a lack of widely acceptable tools and datasets for building and testbeds for evaluating multi-user XR applications. Moreover, given its interdisciplinary nature, XR has been extensively investigated in computer graphics, computer vision, and human-computer interaction communities. Nonetheless, multi-user XR and the Metaverse put more strain on the underlying networks to deliver high-quality immersive content in real-time and guarantee a satisfactory user experience, which is still underexplored in the networking community.