You've likely heard about the metaverse from Facebook's rebranding as Meta or Fortnite creator Epic Games' $1 billion funding announcement to focus on their "long-term vision for the metaverse," but what is the metaverse exactly? And why should your business care?
In short, the metaverse is an immersive digital reality, allowing users to fully participate in social activities — all from the comfort of their own home. The concept of the metaverse is ambitious by essentially working to replicate real-world environments and enable interactive activities by combining virtual and augmented realities.
The metaverse has continued to garner interest since its inception, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to its capacity for holding a variety of virtual events across multiple industries. The metaverse focuses on the concept of "presence," to make users feel as though they’re face-to-face with this new iteration of the internet. This may seem daunting, so we've broken it all down for you. Here are 10 things you need to know about the metaverse:
- The origin of the metaverse
The term "metaverse" is a combination of the words "meta" and "verse" and stems from the meaning "beyond the universe." You may have heard this phrase swirling around in the media lately, but consequently, it was first coined in 1992 in the sci-fi novel Snow Crash written by Neal Stephenson. The idea Stephenson referenced in the book was about creating an all-digital world, or a parallel universe with the implications of technology. It gives people the ability to escape their physical reality through an avatar that can access the online world.
- Is the metaverse a completely new technology?
Imagine you can fully experience and participate in business events, concerts, and gaming simply by wearing a headset. In the metaverse, you’ll feel that you’re physically inside the web because of its 3D features.
But is the metaverse a completely brand new technology? Realistically, it’s just a combination of two existing technologies: virtual reality, or VR, and augmented reality, or AR. Both technologies combined enable the user to have a 3D environment and the ability to simulate something new digitally through headsets, glasses, or watches. While this is the most accepted way to access the metaverse experience, it’s also accessible via existing technology such as computers, gaming consoles, or even cell phones.
- The metaverse’s social atmospheres — work, play, shop, and game
In the metaverse, it's possible to communicate, make appointments, dance with someone, and enjoy numerous other activities with social networks. It mimics all lifestyles and environments in one world. Like today's gaming platforms such as Roblox, Unity, and Epic Games, it offers video game players the chance to build their world. The overarching metaverse will offer this feature, but expand to all aspects of life through interconnected virtual communities.
- What kinds of businesses will be in the metaverse?
Most of us are curious about what business opportunities we'll be able to get into. The possibilities are endless and will involve multiple industries, including:
— Retail shopping experiences
— Virtual events, concerts, and meetings
— A joint enterprise through virtually augmented workspaces to offer a collaborative connection among employees
— Higher education, healthcare, the military, and other institutions that deliver users a learning experience
— Social media platforms and workplaces where users can interact using their 3D avatars
- The digital economy in the metaverse
A digital reality that replicates a digital economy allows entrepreneurs to take advantage by creating business opportunities for themselves. This digital economy includes having a marketplace where consumers can purchase or trade goods and obtain digital assets like virtual clothing and non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs. In essence, life within the metaverse will have its own currency and thus enable virtual businesses to operate. The avatars will have the ability to buy and sell land, and purchase clothing and accessories. To encourage new business development, investment in cryptocurrencies and NFTs is expected to honor innovations and foster entrepreneurship in this area.
The metaverse is set to generate $678.8bn in revenue by 2030. This will include play-to-earn games, NFTs, virtual real estate, and many more formats. The market is already on a solid path, as the market capitalization of the metaverse, Facebook (Meta), and gaming is valued at $14.8trn. For example, the NFT market went through the roof during the pandemic and surpassed $41bn in 2021. And in January 2022, a million active wallets were counted on OpenSea — a new record in history.
- Blockchain technology in the metaverse
Blockchain is a system for recording all financial transactions and trackable assets within a business network. Any valuable asset, tangible and intangible, can be traced in blockchain technology to minimize the risk for any parties involved. Incorporating blockchain technology into the metaverse is an ongoing process. As the most popular platforms of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most well-known in the market. These platforms were created in two different countries and set themselves apart. For example, Ethereum was created as a result of Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin having his World of Warcraft character weakened by Blizzard developers. This made him criticize centralized services and led to the creation of Ethererum alongside his co-founders:
— Charles Hoskinson (Cardano creator)
— Gavin Wood (Polkadot founder)
— Hoe Lubin (ConsenSys founder)
— Anthony Di Iorio (Decentral’s ex-founder)
— Mihai Alisie (Akasha founder)
— Jeffrey Wilcke (Grid Games founder)
— Amir Chetrit
The origin story of how this platform was made is only one out of thousands, as there are many cryptocurrency exchanges in the global market. They're ideal and proven to help in the metaverse as the technology provides transparency for business transactions in the network.
- Productivity in the workplace
Across different sectors of society, requests have been made to have the metaverse adopt a more traditional environment to prioritize the educational and business-related sectors. Meta proposed the idea of Horizon Workrooms, or virtual reality for work environments. These spaces would make users feel as if they're physically present in the same place during work meetings. Microsoft is also aiming to adopt this idea, announcing that team members can utilize the 3D avatars in the team meetings starting in 2022.
- No ownership of the metaverse
Don't be fooled, but the idea of the metaverse is a shared concept. Even when Facebook changed its name to Meta, it couldn't take credit for developing the new technology. Many companies are exploring features to enhance their own pockets of the metaverse. Tech companies, big and small, are joining in, such as Microsoft, Nvidia, Roblox, Unity, and various others. They’re all building their ideas of a better virtual world to develop a new digital experience. However, individuals and organizations are still prohibited from claiming the entire metaverse as their own.
- Is the metaverse safe?
Many users have sparked conversations about safety within the metaverse and are analyzing whether it's a responsible immersive environment. Experts on digital privacy have explained that activities in the metaverse will be under surveillance and monitored to ensure users' safety and privacy expectations are implemented. Future proposals of having a legal framework of guidelines that will focus on prevention and implement consequences of the action in cases of harassment. The metaverse will likely take all precautions and require users to trust the technology.
By 2024, there will be 1.7bn mobile AR users worldwide.️ Cost, accessibility, and safety are the top three factors cited by extended reality, or XR, industry experts as driving the AR market past VR.
- The future of the Metaverse
The metaverse is still in the newer stages of development and will continue to evolve. The promise of the metaverse is moving towards progressive technologies through improvements to socialization, productivity, shopping, and entertainment in the digital world. The market will likely continue to experience constant growth and soon become limitless with new, emerging technologies.
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