Major tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Nvidia are touting “Metaverse” as the next internet revolution that will change how people interact online. Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta, with Mark Zuckerberg announcing the Metaverse mission. But is this concept taken directly from science fiction movies, or is there any reality in the Metaverse becoming the virtual reality we are constantly striving for? Let’s take a dive into the Metaverse and understand whether the path from hype to reality is possible or not?
What exactly is the Metaverse?
The term Metaverse was introduced in 1992 by a famous author Neal Stephenson in his Sci-Fi novel Snow Crash. The Metaverse is built on the principles of immersion, augmentation, decentralization, mobilization, and powering real-time activity. The technologists define the Metaverse as a persistent and shared 3-D virtual environment. Here, people meet up to perform various activities ranging from running business operations to playing games. It incorporates technologies like virtual and augmented reality.
Is Metaverse just avatars and holograms?
When the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the entire globe, business and other needs changed, and finding alternatives for physical meetings became a high priority. It pushed video conferencing software providers to improve their products and services further. They added new features that make them real-time and hassle-free.
While discussing improvements regarding video conferencing, the introduction of 3D avatars of participants in video conferencing tools came up every time. It made the meeting experience more immersive and closer to real-life physical meetings. These virtual representations can be in 2-D, 3-D, cartoonish and photorealistic formats. It is what happened with companies like Second Life, Facebook VR, Fortnite, Roblox, etc. We will have an alter ego in Metaverse to explore this world and interact with peers and strangers.
Someday, further metamorphosis into Holograms will make real people and virtual people almost indistinguishable. But it will take more time to reach that stage. Metaverse should not get restricted to just Holograms or Avatars interacting with other Avatars. It is just an extended collaboration that Metaverse is destined for realization. Hence, Metaverse should evolve further and make our lives much easier in running a business or having social interactions.
Is Metaverse restricted only to a single entity?
Some may feel that Metaverse is a product or a brand owned and developed by only a selected company. But is this true? No. Metaverse is a virtual environment open for everyone to host information and content from the internet community across the globe. Big brand companies have the resources to transform the Metaverse according to their ideas and vision. It does cause users to be concerned about how much vacant “virtual” space there is and how many active contributions they can make. Even if big companies offer Metaverse services using proprietary technologies, open interoperability standards must be implemented so that everyone can integrate their content as it is happening today.
Metaverse: From just a hype to an actionable idea
From an ideal standpoint, Metaverse should be a digital replica of the real world where people spend most of their time. The activities include buying, playing, working, and interacting with others for business and entertainment purposes. More emphasis is placed on augmented and virtual reality to make Metaverse work effectively. Will it serve the purpose it was destined for just by achieving this? The answer is no.
On the contrary, Metaverse is quite reductive as it does not consider the richness and complexity of human interactions and experience. You cannot replicate even the most minor real-life social interactions in the Metaverse. If it turns out like the above, the Metaverse will only be a surrogate of the real world.
Luckily, metaverse has a much broader meaning than just a virtual world where our digital form interacts with other people in their digital forms. As long as Metaverse keeps evolving to help people realize their potential and help them fix their real-life problems to whatever extent, it will be viable and actionable. The AI and robotics technologies will support the Metaverse to reach its true potential in the long term.
Metaverse: Potential areas of applications
As the global tech ecosystem is growing exponentially, with several companies competing to win the race to perfect the Metaverse, we can see a significant transformation in the coming future. Some of the potential areas where Metaverse can find its niches are:
- Collaborations and Work: Remote meetings & collaboration will continue to grow further as tech firms developing video conferencing software will continue to build a feature that will make interactions among the participants more realistic and immersive than today.
- Private life; leisure activities like Gaming: Entertainment has changed significantly over the last decade, especially in on-demand streaming content and gaming platforms. There is a shift from physical (cinema halls) to virtual places (OTT).
- Business: Many industries can take advantage of Metaverse as they can offer extended access to contextual information related to products & services. The adoption of wearable devices might alter the paradigm where retailers, restaurants, museums, etc., can communicate with prospective customers.
Although Metaverse is in its early stages of development, it has the potential to grow and bring positive changes to our lives and our interactions with the Internet. If we allow open and relentless participation from all sectors and communities, Metaverse will get enriched with new features and closer to achieving its full potential. The big tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook have made an effort to bring Metaverse into the global limelight, so the hype is inevitable, but at the same time, there is a long way to go. If Metaverse reaches its full potential and creates a virtual world almost identical to the real world, it will be humankind’s most significant achievement.
- What is the role of AR and VR in the Metaverse?
A: VR (Virtual Reality) offers an immersive experience for individuals using their headsets. It allows you to see and work in the digital world. On the other hand, AR (Augmented Reality) is merely a reflection of the digital world in the real world.
- Which are the top companies involved in the development of Metaverse?
A: The top companies involved in the development of Metaverse are Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, Niantic, Apple, Nvidia, and Decentraland.
- Can you identify the components of Metaverse environments?
A: Some of the crucial components of Metaverse environments are infrastructure, human interface, spatial computing, decentralization, and a creator economy.
- Is the Metaverse real?
A: Although Metaverse doesn’t exist in its final form, the concept is genuine. Many big tech companies are investing enormous resources and workforce to make it a reality in the coming future.
- What are the vital traits of the Metaverse?
A: The vital traits of the Metaverse are interactivity, corporeality, interoperability, and massive economic potential.
- What are the use cases of Metaverse?
A: The use cases of Metaverse are,
Unlocking Marketing Prospects
Blockchain Use Cases
Web Real-time Communication
Virtual Office and Learning Spaces
- What are the significant benefits of Metaverse?
A: The compelling benefits of Metaverse are:
Great tool for healthcare professionals
It makes online games more exciting
Solves most remote work challenges
Offers virtual tours
Monetization of benefits.