Imagine going to work, studying, meeting with friends, attending a concert, or shopping for products. Just that instead of traveling to a physical office, venue, or mall, you do all of this from your home— online, in metaverse.
Broadly speaking, metaverse is virtual reality. The term is, however, still broad. Imagine asking someone in the 70s how Internet works. That's roughly where we are at the moment. The word 'metaverse' doesn't refer to a specific type of technology but rather to a change in how we interact with it.
One of the key concepts linked to metaverse is its persistent nature. Even when you're not logged in, the virtual world will continue to exist. Another essential component is access. You won't necessarily need a VR headset to join metaverse; you should be able to partake using your computer, game console, or even your phone.
Metaverse platforms have existed for some years, mainly in the shape of multiplayer games and social platforms. However, we're now seeing the development of immersive experiences that can feel nearly indistinguishable from real life. So, what exactly metaverse is, and what are its main benefits?
How metaverse is going to work?
The first thing you will need to enter metaverse is an avatar or a virtual representation of yourself. Avatars create a sense of presence that feels more akin to the 'real world,' so they are usually considered as a cornerstone of this technology. Avatars don't need to be realistic, anyway they typically offer a good level of customization to allow users to express their identities online.
You shouldn't think of metaverse as a single platform or tool. We know that both Meta (Facebook) and Microsoft are working on their own virtual and augmented reality projects. Avid gamers have also been experiencing extensive simulations for years.
Think, for example, how Fortnite and Roblox transitioned from multiplayer games into the larger social media spaces they are today. Or look at the initial explosion of Second Life, which revolutionized the world within months, probably planting the seeds of metaverse back in 2007.
It's likely metaverse won't be created by one company but by many developers and users constructing parts of it. This means we can all play a role in its creation process.
Get involved with metaverse
Many businesses are already experimenting with what they can do in metaverse. For example, numerous fashion brands have created digital-only clothing collections. However, for most people, the first taste of metaverse comes with the hand of social and collaboration tools.
For example, Microsoft Teams is already rolling out Mesh, a tool that allows people in different locations to join holographic experiences to hold meetings and share documents. Mesh has already proven to help people feel more engaged and accomplish team goals faster.
Not everyone is eager to try the digital realm. Also, there is an entry barrier related to getting access to the hardware required for better immersion.
However, it is encouraging to think of metaverse as a flexible space where one can meet with family and friends. After all, one of the founding principles of metaverse is that we should be able to use it with any of our modern devices.
How will metaverse impact our day-to-day lives?
It looks like it's just a matter of time until metaverse becomes as common as Internet. The convergence of different metaverses and digital platforms will change our workspace as digital systems get more easily integrated into the enterprise. Its impact might, however, be broader.
The constant expansion of metaverse technology promises new imaginative and creative ways to work, travel, and be entertained. For example, companies like PandaMR already offer virtual spaces where people and businesses access virtual conferences, expos, galleries, and fairs. Another feature that they are working on is providing a virtual space for educational purposes.
Many universities and educational entities in general have already shown interest in virtual classrooms, where they can organize educational processes with a better engagement rate in comparison to usual online learning through video calling platforms.
Most experts estimate it will take about ten years for metaverse to come to full fruition. We still need to develop better and more affordable hardware (for example, many metaverse experiences will probably require a VR headset) and make sure thousands of people can be connected to the same server simultaneously.
Will metaverse change how people interact with the world?
There is little doubt metaverse will affect our lives to at least some degree. Many large organizations are already investing in it, even collaborating with each other to create interoperable experiences.
For lots of people, the future of metaverse will revolve around a virtual presence or using an avatar to be at the office, go to a concert or meet with friends in an immersive digital world. It's likely that some of the first fully-fleshed metaverse experiences will likely have to do with shopping for items to further customize your avatar. Anyway, it's hard to pinpoint exactly which visions of metaverse will become real.
For example, companies like Meta have shown demos where characters float in space. It's difficult to imagine how this experience could feel authentic without having access to some sort of simulator so we can trick the body into thinking it’s moving. Luckily, many businesses are already testing multi-directional treadmills to make running feel more realistic and haptic gloves to give the wearer tactile feedback.
Realistic and expressive avatars would also require a headset that scans a person's face to communicate gestures - a precision technology that still feels some years away. Many demos give an artistic impression of what the future of metaverse could be, but we still don't have all the answers to the technical questions.
It's too soon to know how exactly metaverse will affect our lives, but one thing is sure: It has the potential to change the way we work, learn, relax, and socialize. While some limitations might be impossible to overcome, we will find ways to use the technology in novel ways. After all, when Internet was created, its main innovation was the ability to hyperlink pages. Apps, websites, social networks, and everything else came much later.
Why are NFTs important in the metaverse?
Metaverse may foster new modes of interaction and, most likely, a new type of economy. Many believe that NFTs (non-fungible tokens or records of digital ownership that are stored in the blockchain) will be a crucial component of metaverse.
NFTs could enable the authentication of digital possessions - not just items but also property and even identity. One of their main advantages is that they are secured by a cryptographic key that can't be copied, deleted, or destroyed.
NFTs have also created a multi-million dollar industry for digital art, showing their impressive power and potential. It's possible that, following this model, metaverse solidifies the use of NFTs to create a free market for goods, services, and ideas based on social contracts and independent ownership.
Platforms like Decentraland are already using NFTs to manage land access. Actually, almost everything in Decentraland is an NFT, from the plots themselves to the art on the walls and the wearable items you can buy for your avatar.
One crucial advantage of metaverses is their infinite geography. In Decentraland, all parcels are continuous and have a fixed location. This creates scarcity as more 'central' areas become more desired. Based on the laws of supply and demand, property value rises and falls. NFTs enable the property transactions, providing indisputable proof of ownership.
However, NFTs can do much more than assert ownership rights. They can also help other things be traded, such as currency, services, and goods. For example, one of the sectors grasping its potential is luxury fashion.
Both Burberry and Louis Vuitton have launched their own NFT accessories. Meanwhile, RTFKT, a bespoke shoemaker to metaverse, has created a limited edition of sneakers you can only wear in virtual worlds. Underpinned by NFTs, metaverse promises economies of impressive scale.
What will be the benefits of metaverse?
Many believe metaverses are the next evolution of human connection. If they become a widespread reality, the benefits could be countless.
First, metaverse could make many experiences and products more affordable for more people. This can include travel, high-quality interactions with friends and family, and a new wave of innovation that could facilitate and revalue remote work worldwide. Metaverse will probably also open and create many new job opportunities.
New and Immersive Experiences
Another benefit of metaverse is the possibility of novel experiences - many of which we can only just begin to imagine. Virtual worlds are not tied to the rules of gravity or restricted to space and time, so the opportunities are practically endless. You can exercise, play games, learn, work, and socialize regardless of your location or physical constraints.
New Business Opportunities
It’s likely the development of metaverse will give birth to greater opportunities for companies. Because metaverse is more immersive, businesses will be able to promote their products using new advertising strategies such as virtualized storefronts. They should also be able to provide more engaging and personalized customer service.
Metaverse could also be a boom for sustainability. Attending events and going to work remotely can save precious resources. In the long term, you might also spend less on material clothing and accessories. Instead of consuming resources like fuel, land, and building materials, metaverse would help us conserve them.
A New Era of Prosperity
For centuries we have felt economic growth was limited. The introduction of metaverse might prove this wrong by providing us with new ways to fulfill our desires in a digital space. It's clear this new technology will come with its own challenges and hardships. Anyway, it can also create a new era of prosperity. Only time will tell.