What is the Metaverse?
In light of the recent Facebook Meta rebrand, we've gotten a lot of questions regarding the Metaverse. Mainly brands asking us what in the world is the Metaverse? Well, here's a summary that hopefully can answer most of the basic questions regarding what the metaverse is and what does it mean for us moving forward.
If you've watched the movie "Ready Player One", you'd have a decent idea of what the rest of us picture as the metaverse. Basically, the metaverse is a network of always-on virtual environments in which people can interact with one another and digital objects while operating virtual representations – or avatars – of themselves. Think of immersive virtual reality combined with a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and runs on the internet.
This is not a new concept but for a long time, this was something that seemed a lot more science fiction than actual reality. However, with the recent innovation in blockchain tech, NFT's (we've written extensively on this, feel free to check out our other articles on NFT's) and 5G internet speeds, the metaverse may very well be the successor to the current-gen internet. Although still a long way to go, companies like Facebook will be spending a lot of their R&D and budget towards developing something like that we've seen in "Ready Player One". The very fact that Facebook, Inc. renamed itself to Meta shows how big they see the metaverse being in our daily lives in the near future and their not the only brand doing so.
While a lot argue that the metaverse can be many things, many do see the 3 key features of being a metaverse. These are presence, interoperability and standardisation. These 3 are considered vital aspects before a virtual experience/environment can be considered a metaverse. The first - element – presence – is the feeling of actually being in a virtual space, with virtual others. Achieving this through VR tech has always felt clunky, but with new VR development making the goggles/head-mounts lighter and ergonomic, it won't be long before a VR headset/goggles may become a home staple for many.
Secondly, interoperability means being able to seamlessly travel between virtual spaces with the same virtual assets, such as avatars and digital items. The advent of blockchain tech and NFT's have truly made this a possibility with people in the space being able to store their unique digital assets (NFT's) on their digital wallets that can connect to any app that supports these features. ReadyPlayerMe, for instance, allows people to create an avatar that they can use in hundreds of different virtual worlds, including in Zoom meetings
Finally, standardization is what enables the interoperability of platforms and services across the metaverse. As with all mass-media technologies – from the printing press to text messaging – common technological standards are essential for widespread adoption. International organizations – such as the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, whose mission is “to bridge virtual worlds by designing and promoting protocols for identity, social graphs, inventory, and more” – define these standards.
If the metaverse does become the successor to the internet, things such as who builds it, and how, are extremely important to the future of the economy and society as a whole. Facebook is aiming to play a leading role in shaping the metaverse, in part by investing heavily in virtual reality.
The metaverse might one day resemble the flashy fictional world we saw in “Ready Player One,” but until then, you can turn to games like Fortnite and Roblox, the virtual reality social media platforms like VRChat and AltspaceVR, and virtual work environments, such as Immersed, for a taste of the immersive and connected metaverse experience. As these siloed spaces converge and become increasingly interoperable, watch for a truly singular metaverse to emerge.