Metaverse – The future we are walking into
The Metaverse is one of the coolest things science fiction has ever thought up. The metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992 in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash”. It was another way of saying virtual reality. Metaverse is a digital world driven by the same rules as the physical one we inhabit.
It’s a digital space that is replicated infinitely, and it includes everything from our everyday lives to the most remote galaxies. The metaverse is an ever-growing area of research that is still in its early stages. But with so much potential for exploration and growth, it’s important that we understand what it means for our world and our future.
What is the metaverse?
The Metaverse is a digital universe that lives completely inside a web browser, mobile app, or a gaming console. It is the virtual space, where you can work, communicate, socialize, stay connected with friends, play games or even travel the world without leaving your home physically.
The metaverse is still being developed, but there is an underlying theme of what a better future can be with the power of technology. Some of the core technologies like blockchain, AI/ML, virtual and augmented reality and advanced audio-visual techniques make the metaverse applications immersive and capable of replicating almost any place that exists in the traditional world. And with the ever-growing research and evolution of metaverse, it will open new realms of virtual coexistence.
Greate developments are made towards a virtual social environment that goes beyond the limitations of just interacting with people you know in a physical environment. It’s great to just be able to send a quick message to a friend or have some private communication with them through chat or messaging app, but a better metaverse would allow you to really interact with other people as if you are there with them. The metaverse gives you an ability to connect with people from all over the world and even have a sense of existence in an entirely different environment that otherwise wouldn’t be possible in the physical world.
Recently the social media giant Facebook changed its name to ‘Meta’ and that is a decisive move towards the future that we all are walking into, the metaverse.
Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg believes that while the key features of the metaverse are not yet widely available, they will become mainstream in the next five to ten years. Just like many other elements of the metaverse that exist today, lightning-fast internet speeds and network redundancy, VR headsets and smartglasses are already up and running, however not accessible to everyone.
How would it look like to be in the metaverse
Let’s take an example of how online shopping in the metaverse may look like.
It is expected that every consumer product these days will have some sort of app available for it, mobile and web apps, TV apps and so on. We expect that any physical product will have a digital counterpart that will help us understand the dimensions, features and applications of that product in a much better way.
For example, you want to buy a dishwasher. You put on your VR headset and visit the company’s digital store where you can see the machines as if they are there in front of you. Select the model that you want and the digital replica of the product will be there for you to check in every detail. You can check the dimensions and also see how it will actually work. You can ask questions to the sales executive face to face without leaving your home. The sales executive might be a real human being on the other side or an AI-powered bot who looks like a real human being and is capable of answering any level of technical queries.
This is one of the examples of the millions of possibilities that the metaverse may offer in the future. Right now, we live in a world where we can virtually explore almost any place and time. The metaverse is a way of exploring all those places which are difficult to visit physically.
How can we explore the metaverse?
We have already started to live in the metaverse by using virtual meetings to communicate and collaborate. With the recent lockdowns, travel bans and other restrictions due to the COVID pandemic, almost everyone from schools to multinational organizations has started using virtual meetings on Zoom, MS Teams or Google meet.
In the near term, some companies and projects that we have been watching are exploring ways to connect the physical and digital worlds. We have seen a lot of projects that let you use a VR headset to virtually visit the workplace, view the museums and the wonders of the world closely and even visit the grave of your beloved.
There are applications to use the virtual reality headsets from watching movies and playing video games to remote assistance and consultation. These headsets let you experience immersive 3D worlds and take part in interactive tasks.
One of the most popular playable metaverse is Second Life which started as a game and is now being played by over 1 million people worldwide. You can create an avatar, enter an environment of your choice, do jobs, buy a home, make friends and socialize all in the virtual world as if you are living a second life completely different from the life you are living in reality.
What are some potential applications of the metaverse?
There are many elements that can be considered parts of the metaverse: online spaces, virtual worlds, online casinos and games… even avatar creation systems like Second Life or MOOs.
With the advent of technology and the metaverse, we can explore different universes. We can travel to far-off planets, travel back through time, visit exotic locations like Mars or create holograms in our homes.
Through various video game consoles and VR headsets, there is a huge gaming community that is connecting and interacting with other gamers inside the virtual environment of the game. These kinds of games and applications are becoming more and more popular which clearly shows that the metaverse is starting to grow so rapidly. With the development of applications for gaming, shopping and even virtual travels, this digital space could be also used for education, entertainment, research and exploration.
What are some of the future implications of the metaverse?
A big problem with the metaverse is that if one were to accept the concept of a world where everything was simulated it could pose some big challenges to how we live our lives today. For example, one popular worry is that people in this world will become addicted to metaverse activities. This has the potential to affect our lives in a similar way that screens have today.
Our everyday lives are now being replicated digitally and exist in digital spaces with millions of users at any one time, which raises privacy and security concerns to another level.
With so much dependency on digital tools and applications, our everyday lives have evolved into something larger than just “our life”: they’ve become a part of the virtual space called the metaverse.
The potential of the metaverse is so huge, it’s hard to wrap our minds around. But if we take a look at some applications that are currently available, like Second Life and Snapchat filters, we can start to see how immersive technologies might change our lives in ways we never would have imagined before. We should be excited for what’s coming next because these changes will undoubtedly affect us on an individual level as well as society on a global scale.