Everyone seems to have heard the term "metaverse" lately. But, what is the metaverse? How did it all come about? Well, today, we all might just find all that out. We're going to take a deep dive into each of these areas and pick apart what is all the fuss about.
What is the Metaverse?
The term "metaverse" was first used in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his dystopian novel, "Snow Crash". Neal Stephenson, the author of "Snow Crash", described the metaverse as a virtual world that people could explore and interact with as avatars. The characters would use headphones and goggles to access the metaverse. And, perhaps most importantly, the novel includes electronic currencies. Perhaps most important is the fact that Snow Crash was written in the early days of internet technology. It provides a glimpse into the future of digitalization we now see coming to life.
The word itself is a mixture of "Meta", the Greek prefix that means beyond, across, or after, and "universe". This means that we can understand the metaverse simply as the evolution of the internet, where there will be no separation between digital and physical.
You can imagine all the activities you do online today, from socializing and playing to learning and working, but everything will be more dynamic, immersive, and meaningful in the metaverse. The convergence of key emerging technologies will make this possible.
Consistent and synchronous - The metaverse will offer a synchronous, living experience to its users. Virtual worlds will be able to store all your activities and allow you to change them in real-time. It is impossible to 'pause', unplug, or reset a virtual world. This makes it an ongoing experience.
Immersive - You can enter a new level of immersion and interactivity in the metaverse. Users will feel both an individual and a social sense of being present. A virtual world will have adaptive capabilities that allow environments to be modified by users' interactions.
Decentralized - The metaverse will not be owned by one person or entity, but by all its users. This is possible partly thanks to blockchain technology.
Interoperable - In the future, users will be able to navigate between different virtual worlds and experience as though they were one platform. Metaverse users will have one digital wallet or avatar, that can be used to access all activities within the metaverse.
Functional economy - Users have the opportunity to enter a secure and free metaverse marketplace, where digital assets can exchange for fair value. Assets in the metaverse can be exchanged for cryptocurrency in return for NFTs (nonfungible tokens). This allows users to take full control of their digital assets and trace their transaction history. It also certifies authenticity and uniqueness.
Accessible - Shared virtual worlds offer the possibility of making digital goods and experiences accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world. You only need an interface such as a smartphone or virtual reality headset.
Slowly, the vision of the metaverse is taking shape. It will open the door to profound changes in a variety of experiences and environments. Some of these are already available. Others are yet to come.
What can you do in the Metaverse?
We can expect the metaverse's potential to significantly expand our internet opportunities by moving daily activities to a more dynamic and immersive 3D environment. Here are some of the most prominent industries and areas that have adopted virtual worlds as a means to expand their reach.
- Gaming: Games are already playing an important role in shaping the metaverse. You can already use them across multiple platforms to create better experiences. Play-to-earn, a new blockchain-based model that allows gamers to earn money from their games, is one reason why gaming is so popular in the metaverse. Check out our guide to this topic. VR, AI, and motion capture technology are being used by gaming developers to create experiences that go beyond the current offerings.
- Entertainment: This metaverse is enabling new forms of entertainment and the ways in which they can be consumed. Users will soon be able to pick an avatar and enter the metaverse to meet celebrities, attend music festivals and watch generative TV and movies. We have all experienced the many benefits of being able to relax at home and having access to our favourite forms of entertainment. The Covid-19 pandemic helped us see this. Social: The metaverse, which leverages virtual and augmented realities for enhanced presence, will provide a platform for connectivity and networking that extends current networks.
- Commerce: The fashion industry was one of the first to adopt the metaverse. There are a variety of brands that have opened virtual stores there. This trend is rapidly being adopted by other industries. Blockchain technology allows anyone to open a business in the metaverse and create digital assets or services that can be sold to others.
- Work environments: The Covid-19 epidemic helped to accelerate workplace trends and push a large portion of the workforce to remote work. The metaverse could be the solution to this office evolution. It allows people to feel more present and has access to more productive tools that can enhance creativity, collaboration, and meeting opportunities.
- Education: The pandemic also brought about a major shift in online learning. It became apparent that teachers and educational institutions struggled to find interactive tools that would keep students engaged. 3D tools can be used to provide interactive learning environments that better suit the needs of students.
- Fitness: Similar to other resources, VR allows users to access a variety of fitness and sports games that they can compete against AI-based avatars or users.
Mark Zuckerberg admitted that it might be another decade before we see a fully-fledged metaverse. We are on the right track. We are now seeing the first virtual infrastructures and experiences that mimic metaverses, and tech supporting them like virtual reality is maturing. The popularity of NFTs and crypto has also increased dramatically in recent years, adding yet another layer of metaverse utility to users. We will likely see more progress in technology over the next few years and consolidation of metaverse trends that have been successful so far.
Virtual and augmented reality are two of the most important tools for a business these days. While some tools may still be in their infancy, they will help your brand position itself to succeed in new virtual spaces such as the metaverse. These spaces are already attracting millions across many industries and areas of interest. In the Metaverse, a billion-dollar opportunity is something you don't want to miss.