After the announcement that it would be changing its name to Meta, social media behemoth Facebook revealed that it intends to set its sights on an even broader landscape in the future.
This landscape has been dubbed the Metaverse, which, on the surface, merely reflects virtual realms beyond reality. It’s no coincidence that Meta has chosen to go down this road.
While gamers have been delving into similar settings for years, a closer look at its future reveals several intriguing concepts that merit further investigation.
Numerous companies are already developing products relevant to virtual worlds. Interfaces and accessories for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming increasingly popular.
Undoubtedly, these will prove essential as the Metaverse expands. How quickly this happens though is debatable. While we may be able to explore numerous metaverses simultaneously, there is a possibility that a single all-encompassing metaverse, comparable to the internet, may arise.
This, and other considerations, are why it’s critical to have a basic awareness of what the future may hold.
WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?
The term “metaverse” was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash. In the novel, the Metaverse represents an imaginary location accessed only by fiber-optic networks and virtual reality goggles. It depicts a network of virtual worlds that exist beyond reality.
Fundamentally, the Metaverse is a virtual environment in which individuals communicate via the internet. More than just a chat room or a social networking platform, metaverses are far more immersive and multisensory. The development of these virtual worlds has been influenced by the advancement of various VR and AR devices.
WHAT ARE THE METAVERSE’S DISTINGUISHING FEATURES?
The Metaverse is defined by three key features: presence, interoperability, and standardization.
Presence is the feeling of being physically present in a virtual place, interacting with virtual individuals. Numerous studies have demonstrated that this sensation of embodiment enhances the quality of online interactions. Virtual reality technology such as head-mounted displays enables the experience of presence.
Interoperability refers to traveling effortlessly across virtual worlds while using the same virtual assets, such as avatars and digital objects. Ready Player Me enables individuals to build an avatar that they may use in various virtual environments, including Zoom meetings using apps such as Animaze. Meanwhile, blockchain technologies such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs enable the cross-border movement of digital products.
Standardization is what enables platform and service interoperability across the Metaverse. As with all mass-media technologies – from the printing press to texting – broad acceptance requires shared technology standards. These standards are defined by international organizations such as the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group.
WHAT WILL THE METAVERSE LOOK LIKE?
As Meta forges ahead with the development of its Metaverse, plenty of other enterprises will follow suit. We could, therefore, anticipate that each corporation would have its own metaverse platform. However, the Metaverse may evolve in the future when several corporations merge their respective metaverses into a single virtual world.
The simplest description of what the Metaverse is anticipated to look like in the future is a 3D version of the internet. Imagine wandering around the streets of Rome only by Googling “Rome tourist attractions.” With your virtual reality or augmented reality glasses, you may truly experience the feeling of interacting with the information you require.
WHAT IS FACEBOOK OR THE META METAVERSE?
The Facebook/Meta metaverse concept is also a frequent topic of discussion. Facebook changed its name to establish its own Metaverse despite much criticism. The three-dimensional version of Meta is intended to be the next generation of mobile internet experience for consumers.
The concept of the metaverse is not specific to Meta since other corporations are also exploring virtual worlds using augmented and virtual reality technology. A sizable portion of the discussions surrounding Meta’s metaverse has been devoted to assuring the Metaverse’s new safety measures, privacy settings, and terms of service.
WHY IS THERE SUCH HYPE AROUND THE METAVERSE?
There is much excitement around Metaverse, most of it generated by tech firms declaring themselves to be Metaverse companies or developing Metaverses to enhance or augment people’s digital and physical experiences. Furthermore, activities that presently occur in separate settings will soon occur in a single Metaverse.
- Partaking in a virtual social experience
- Acquiring digital land and constructing virtual residences
- Purchasing clothing and accessories for online avatars
- Virtual mall shopping with immersive commerce
- Using virtual classrooms to simulate an immersive learning environment
- Procurement of digital artworks, collectibles, and assets (NFTs)
- Interactions with digital humans for employee onboarding, customer service, sales, and other business-related interactions
WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE IN THE METAVERSE?
A deluxe Metaverse is based on the idea of an immersive, 360-degree digital universe. You’ll have your own customizable avatar, and you’ll possess digital assets whose titles are likely to be stored on a blockchain. Some people predict that you’ll buy digital land plots and construct virtual homes to entertain your friends (or at least their avatars).
While this may seem far-fetched or crazy, bets on the value of digital land have already begun. Tokens.com, a Canadian corporation, purchased about $2.5 million for virtual property in Decentraland, a 3D world platform like GeoCities or Second Life. (In Decentraland, purchases are made using an Ethereum blockchain token.)
Others anticipate a briefer encounter. There are already basic forms of a metaverse experience available, such as Roblox or Fortnite. While these games are not as immersive as the Metaverse that Zuckerberg describes, they provide a decent idea of what can be expected.
WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL I NEED TO ENTER THE METAVERSE?
What you’ll need depends on your destination. Meta wants you to purchase an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. This will cost you $300 (note that the hardware is self-contained and does not require a computer or gaming console). However, there are several other VR headset manufacturers, including Valve, HTC, HP, and Sony, whose gear is compatible with PCs or PlayStation 4/5. More headsets will be available by the end of the year, some of which will connect to phones.
Other firms — Microsoft and Magic Leap, to name a few – manufacture augmented reality goggles that overlay digital data on top of the actual environment and are often far more expensive. Qualcomm and other businesses are researching techniques for integrating augmented reality glasses with smartphones; however, most applications have remained experimental or business-focused thus far.
Snap’s prototype augmented reality glasses, or spectacles like the Nreal Light, demonstrate how much work remains to make them a purchase worth considering. You can also access existing metaverses such as Roblox and Minecraft via your computer, tablet, or phone. Although this is not a 360-degree experience, the popularity of these platforms demonstrates their appeal.
While the world awaits the implementation of the Metaverse for public use, there are several instances of independent virtual worlds that will eventually become a part of the Metaverse. You may have already become part of the Metaverse without realizing it. How soon the Metaverse will become a reality is another issue on everyone’s lips.
What we do know, however, is that with the backing of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality and the efforts of tech giants such as Sony, Microsoft, and Facebook, the Metaverse will undoubtedly expand and become an integral part of our lives in the future.