The metaverse is a legless place. In the early glimpses we’ve gotten at the virtual reality (VR) worlds crafted by Facebook parent company Meta, cartoonish avatars float above the ground with nothing but heads, torsos, and arms. Only a faint shadow marks the spot where their feet might otherwise stand.
Why have waist-up avatars become our default representations in the metaverse? The short answer is: Modeling the movements of our legs would require extra sensors, and those sensors are expensive and cumbersome. Executives at Meta, which now controls about 90% of the virtual reality market, have determined that legs simply aren’t worth the extra cost.
But it’s interesting to think about why legs aren’t worth the cost, at least from Meta’s perspective. For now, Meta is marketing its virtual reality headsets as mainly a workplace collaboration tool. If you’re staging a business meeting in the metaverse, it’s important to have a face to present to your teammates and clients. You need arms to gesture at items a presentation slide or point out key elements of a diagram. Legs, however, just sit inert and unseen beneath a conference table. They do not generate economic value—and so, regrettably, they must be amputated.