Since Mark Zuckerberg announced in a video about Facebook being rebranded as ‘Meta’, the term ‘Metaverse’ has become the subject of discussion, leaving many confused as to what it actually means. Various other companies are joining the metaverse in different ways, including big brand names like Nike, Walmart, Adidas, Gap, PWC, Verizon, and many more. So, what is the metaverse, and does it exist? Let’s explore!
What is the metaverse?
The concept of the metaverse has been around for a long time. It first appeared in a 1992 futuristic novel called ‘Snow Crash’, by Neal Stephenson. It appeared again in the novel, ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline, published in 2011 that created a vast virtual reality world where humans lived. We have also seen the concept of metaverse in movies, video games, and so on.
So, what is metaverse, anyway?
The metaverse is a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, eye-tracking, and various other technologies that allow us to feel the virtual presence within a virtual universe. It is a 3D environment in which we can interact instead of just watching the internet on a screen. Examples of the metaverse are Roblox, Fortnite, and The Sandbox.
Using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) glasses, the metaverse allows us to live in a computer-based environment in our digital avatars just like we live in the physical world.
For example, imagine being able to virtually visit beautiful places, watch favorite shows, try clothing, or live a life on your terms. How would you feel it? For those who are enthusiasts of the metaverse, there is a real sense that they can get value from virtual experiences.
To enter a metaverse, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
Does metaverse exist?
The metaverse seems like something out of science fiction, but it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. There are many existing things that you can consider as ‘metaversal’. For example, the concept of metaverse has been shown in movies such as Ready Player One and The Matrix. Video games like Pokémon created metaversal identities.
Many companies have already started investing in this idea. For instance, Vogue hosted the first Metaverse Fashion Week from March 24-27; Disney is working on customized interactive attractions wherein visitors will be able to virtually meet their favourite characters from their homes, and Microsoft has plans to launch its metaverse based feature over Teams which allows people join meetings virtually, send chats, collaborate on shared docs, and more.
So, does the metaverse exist? Of course, it does but not in the continuous, connected form that could be in the future. The possibilities of the metaverse are huge. Certain areas need to be developed and matured to achieve its full potential.
What is metaverse used for?
There are many ways we can use the metaverse in our day-to-day life:
- Everyday activities at home
- Social engagements
- Day tours
- Business meetings
- Training, team collaboration
Metaverse is not only for customers who will get the benefit, but also for businesses. For example, let’s say that Company A needs new parts for its equipment. The current process requires the company to receive a physical copy of the brochure or get it via email. In the metaverse, manufacturers could test their products in a virtual environment before even purchasing them. Imagine being able to build a complex digital twin of the factory and test the operational performance of the product that you are about to design.
Metaverse has the potential to increase its reach in the market for its customers. However, the internet has already become an incredible resource providing so many goods and services to the people that were out of reach before. Workers, for example, can get jobs in other countries without having to emigrate. Educational institutions are using advanced technologies and providing education over e-learning platforms.
When we look into the possibilities in the corporate world, they are growing at a massive scale. For example, companies are using cloud and IoT technologies for better connection and revenue, augmented reality for improving operations, and virtual reality to provide new experiences to their customers.
There’s a lot in the Metaverse for almost everyone. Its maturity could change the way we interact with other people and digital interfaces.
What is Facebook metaverse?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced a new concept called Metaverse during his company’s Q2 earnings call with investors on July 28, 2021. The company called the metaverse the new era of the internet and the next chapter for the company. Later in October 2021, they rebranded Facebook to ‘Meta’ to meet the vision of contributing to the development of the metaverse. Zuckerberg, in an interview with Sara Dietschy, said that he wanted Facebook to be a metaverse company, rather than a social media company, and so the plan was later implemented. The company has invested around $10 billion in the metaverse. It also acquired Oculus, a leading provider of VR headsets.
Does metaverse matter? How will metaverse change the future?
Though we’re still in the early stages, parts of a metaverse have already begun to emerge. These new ways of people interaction are giving us hope that one day this technology will be able to take us beyond what’s possible on today’s internet.
Most platforms these days have introduced virtual identities and inventories that are connected to a single platform. A metaverse, however, can allow you to create interactive, customizable personas that can carry you anywhere as easily as you can copy profile pictures from one social media platform to another.
The question is then how long it will take for us to jump from the internet-powered world to the metaverse-powered world.