However, there are still many questions and disagreements about the definition of the metaverse. Some experts say there isn’t a consensus. To some, entering the metaverse includes trying on clothes in augmented reality as you shop, and to others it’s interacting and collaborating in a meeting using avatars — but the idea of being able to move seamlessly between the real world and more virtual one in a single metaverse is the eventual goal.
That’s what some companies are trying to build out right now, but the technology and hardware are many years away from being able to support that vision. Meta, Oculus headset’s owner, recently made work, gaming, social spaces available as part of Horizon Worlds apps. Over the next five years, the company will dedicate $10 billion to AR and VR projects in Europe and hire 10,000 people in Europe.
Software and hardware are also being developed by other tech giants like Microsoft, Snap, and Sony. Developers and advertisers are increasingly looking to create products that cater to this cyber experience.
“The metaverse is the next step in personalization in the digital environment,”Chris Tompkins is the CEO of marketing company The Go! Agency, said. “Something that is more immersive than just posts and chat, something that combines the elements of the current environment with VR, AR, and other sensory-heavy applications.”
The following is a guideline on the metaverse: how to access it, what it entails and some of its potential applications.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse can be described as a virtual world in which users can interact, play and experience the same things they do in the real world. They can interact with the virtual world by overlaying objects or people using current AR/VR tech.
Combining sci-fi and science fiction is the term Sci-Fi. “meta”And “universe”To refer to the notion that there is a network between these universes and worlds. Similar themes might be familiar from movies such as “Ready Player One”Or TV shows like “Black Mirror,”Characters can plug in to enter a different universe, perhaps even live in a completely new world. Our tech isn’t quite there yet, but more on that later. “The metaverse is the real world virtualized,”Bob Bilbruck, CEO of tech consulting firm Captjur, said that. “Most of the time the metaverse will be an overlay on your real life and activities. Everything from banking, to learning, to entertainment, to commuting, to doing business, interacting with friends, gaming will all be enhanced through the metaverse, and eventually the two will seamlessly merge where you will not be able to tell if you’re in the real world or metaverse world.”
There’s also some debate over what the term refers to — it could be used as a broad term for any immersive virtual environment or a bunch of virtual worlds in one universe. Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg would like to have it the latter way, and for his company to ideally be the provider or platform supporting those various services.
How do you get there?
Right now, it’s through somewhat clunky hardware, such as AR glasses or a VR headset like Oculus. Many companies are creating their own wearable devices in order to offer these experiences. Snap has been developing its AR glasses, Spectacles. On the gaming side, Sony has a Playstation VR headset, and Microsoft has its HoloLens device. Meta’s Oculus has also introduced several headset products operated in conjunction with controllers so users can speak to other users, grab objects or walk and fly around.
In 2020, Sony sold more PRSV units than any other company. Oculus Quest 2 shipped more than 10,000,000 units. Since current devices are mostly limited to head and torso tracking — hence the proliferation of legless avatars — various companies are working on developing accessories and devices for full-body tracking suits and components to add heat and cold sensations. Some startups are also working on products that provide tactile feedback. TVs will be available that allow users to show their NFTs or other virtual objects. These are just a few of the building blocks for a larger, more evolving metaverse.
What is the point?
There are many possible applications for the metaverse. Some of the first ones include online gaming and social networking. We’ve seen some recent metaverse events with Lil Nas X doing a virtual ConcertThe popular VR game “Roblox.” Travis Scott, Ariana Grande and alsoInaugured their own concerts “Fortnite,” with Scott’s virtual performance drawing a crowd of 12,000,000It has made over $20 million, including merchandise. We could see more entertainment companies entering the space to produce events and create platforms and tools that allow for collaboration.
“By having a massive company like Meta put a lot of resources behind this platform, it creates a jolt across the entire industry,”Kevin Cornish, founder of VR learning company Moth+Flame and CEO, stated. “It’s exciting because it has the potential to bring more businesses who may have otherwise thought VR was out of their reach, into the mix in looking for some of the really cool work being done in the enterprise space.”
Andy Tian (CEO of Asia Innovations Group, a Hong Kong social company) describes the metaverse in his description as a virtual universe. “interoperates with the real world,”These consumer applications include self-expression and socializing. “There are many applications, but perhaps the most important at this moment is that it enables a virtual creator economy. It enables anyone to create anything virtual and be able to get paid for it by other users,”Tian said.
Clark Boyd is also the head of strategy for AI startup Cadeera. He sees retail as a growth area. With the virtual retail world, shoppers don’t have to physically go from store to store to find items — which gives them a lot more variety and saves time. “Right now, brands are selling virtual versions of their physical products in the metaverse. Next, we will see metaverse exclusives of clothing ranges, but there is so much more room for experimentation if we see that the economics of the virtual world are entirely different,”Boyd said.
Gaming’s future metaverse could offer opportunities for creators and gamers to earn money as ambassadors, or even esports rivals. Gaming is regarded as the most important part of the current metaverse. Gaming offers a range of immersive experiences that are familiar to users. These include strategy, shooting games, VR chatrooms, multiplayer experiences and virtual reality chatrooms.
What are the biggest challenges when building the metaverse
The metaverse, just like gaming and social networking apps, will need privacy and safety protocols to protect users against harmful content, illegal activities, and bad actors. The fact that these activities can now take place in the metaverse doesn’t change the rules — especially as there are growing concerns around consumer safety and mental health impacts on social media.
“All the real-world problems will translate into the metaverse,” Bilbruck said. “After all, it will be an extension of your real-world life. Crime, harassments, scams, bad people, bad interactions and fraud will all be part of the metaverse. … We are going to see huge discussions around privacy as this develops.”
Many privacy regulations and protections are still being developed, especially for wearables. Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert with NordVPN, said having headsets and sensors in people’s homes poses a security concern. “Add the potential to have your meta-identity stolen, or simply cloned where a hacker assumes your identity to do bad things in your name is quite scary,”He stated. “As business moves to metaverse for remote communications, there are workforce, if not legal, challenges of people opting out.”
The sheer cost of the equipment and headsets will also be a problem. Tian thinks that the greatest problem will be the cost of headsets and gear, which can run into the hundreds. “Most users don’t use VR, and the pandemic has driven a wider digital divide, especially between the poor and the rich, and between developed and developing countries.”
Also, the infrastructure for the metaverse is still to be built, regardless of whether it is a single platform as Zuckerberg envisions or something more like the existing internet with different domains. “Meta would like to play that role, but that would only serve their own interests,” Boyd said of Zuckerberg’s ambitions in this new field. “I am concerned that we will only entrench our existing prejudices in a virtual world, when we have a rare opportunity to reimagine how we interact and create value. We need only look at social media today to see how damaging this could be, and to understand why Meta is not the right company to lead us into a new age.”