What is Metaverse and what will be its impact on the future?
From Ready Player One to The Matrix, virtual worlds where the only limit is your imagination have been the subject for many dystopian science fiction books and movies for decades.
But now that it’s here in the form of the Metaverse, people are baffled by the concept and how it will impact the future of humanity. Millions of people every day are asking questions about this world, such as—What is the Metaverse? How do you access the Metaverse world? Who is building it? What makes Metaverse so important? What are the usage of Metaverse?
And if you’re among those people, keep reading as we answer some of these burning questions and explain how the Metaverse will impact the future.
What is the Metaverse?
Neal Stephenson coined the term Metaverse in his Sci-fi book Snow Crash.Stephenson loosely defined it as a virtual reality where people use digital avatars to explore the online world. Sounds familiar?
Metaverse doesn’t refer to a specific technology, but it is the amalgamation of different technologies working together to create a network of interconnected virtual spaces similar to the Internet.
For most technology experts, Metaverse is the next phase in the evolution of the Internet. You can think of it as a more interactive Internet, powered by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, among others, to create a virtual world. This popular school of thought imagines the Metaverse as a place. It is a place to work, play, interact and own belongings across different digital locations like Roblox, Fortnite, Sandbox, Decentraland and so on.
Who will build the Metaverse and how to access it?
You might think that Mark Zuckerberg is the one building the Metaverse, since he changed Facebook’s name to Meta. But that’s not true. Facebook founder Zuckerberg is simply betting the most on it.
In fact, Metaverse will be built more or less like the Internet was built. With a number of people and companies contributing different bits and pieces to it, slowly, over time.
At the moment, the biggest players in the Metaverse space are Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Roblox, Decentraland, Epic Games, NVIDIA, Apple, Amazon, Snapchat, and believe it or not, Snoop Dogg.
How to access this Metaverse?
Well, it all comes down to hardware. VR goggles are the gateway to the current Metaverse. Interestingly, Meta lost billions when Apple and Google put privacy restrictions on ad-targeting in the OS of their devices. After learning their lesson, Meta is now selling its own Quest 2 VR headsets at a cost. They’re even subsidizing them to capture the VR headset market. This time, Meta intends to own both the platform and the hardware.
Meta is also developing other hardware like holographic displays and haptic gloves that will enable users to ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ virtual objects and sensations.
Metaverse’s impact on the future
A trigger for innovation
30 years ago, nobody could have predicted the Internet of today. The digital revolution completely changed our lives and gave birth to a plethora of other technologies without which our modern economy will now fail to function.
Similarly, as Metaverse picks up steam, it’s going to trigger a boom in technological innovation. In one way or another, it already has. Video games are already getting more and more sophisticated with their graphics, 3D tech and low latency periods.
Right now, Meta is developing an AI supercomputer to power their Metaverse. Technology like this will ultimately benefit other industrial sectors as well.
Other technologies that are pivotal to the metaverse are AR/VR technology, blockchain, Internet of Things, machine learning, 3D reconstruction, digital currency, sensors etc.
With the rise of digital fashion, virtual showrooms, virtual shopping and try-on technologies, Metaverse is dramatically reshaping the fashion industry. From Ralph Lauren to Gucci, fashion brands have entered the Esports market by designing ‘Skins’ for video games.
Your digital avatar in the Metaverse is going to need digital clothes too, and leading digital fashion product creation are brands and marketplaces such as The Fabricant, DressX, REPUBLIQUE, XR Couture, Tribute, and RTFKT (which recently acquired by Nike). They are raking in millions of dollars by selling purely digital fashion for social media, video games and popular Metaverse platforms like Sandbox, Decentraland, Roblox, Zepetto, and Bloktopia.
The Metaverse has proved to be very convenient for fashion shows as well. It allows brands to showcase their collections with 360-degree views on 3D virtual models and cut back on the massive waste and CO2 emissions created by expensive fashion shows.
When you can showcase your collection in a Metaverse, why not sell it in Metaverse too! Brands are taking this opportunity to provide a more immersive and interactive shopping experience with virtual showrooms. Going as far as integrating AI so they can track customer activities and other data like purchase history, taste and demographic profiles. This will allow brands to increase their conversation rates by giving more personalized clothing recommendations to encourage purchases.
The future of entertainment
Celebrities like Ariana Grande, Marshmello, Travis Scott and Snoop Dogg are all among the list of pop stars to hold Metaverse concerts in the video game Fortnite. Tens of millions of video gamers watched Ariana Grande fly through a starry night sky with huge angel wings while surrounded by players inside bubbles.
Seeing the potential, entertainment company Warner Music Group (WMG) has partnered with The Sandbox to build a music-focused Metaverse theme park. Other entertainment companies like HYBE (BTS’s label) and YG (Blackpink’s label) are buying Metaverse platforms and introducing Extended Reality (XR) features to their online concerts.
Meanwhile, Disney is building a whole new world in the Metaverse (no points for guessing it’s a theme park). Concerts and theme parks are not the only entertainment Meta verse will offer in the future. The same technology can allow you to virtually visit virtual museums, hang out in digital spaces in Decentraland, go mini-golfing, and do so much more with other people, without ever leaving your couch!
Work from Metaverse
By now, it is clear that video calls don’t exactly provide the right structure for effective collaboration. The Meta verse promises to provide immersive team collaborations and accelerated learning through virtualization. The Metaverse could be the key to boosting collaboration, productivity and reducing isolation as more and more employees work remotely.
Meta Platforms has plans to develop digital office spaces, where colleagues can meet as custom-made avatars to collaborate and hold meetings. Similarly, India-based company NextMeet is also building avatar-based interactive working, learning solutions and virtual workplaces.
From the looks of things, it’s possible that soon work meetings could partially, if not completely, shift to the Metaverse in the next two to three years. Even Bill Gates has predicted this.
In addition to all this, the Meta verse can also be used to provide ‘hands-on training’ virtually. Companies like KPMG, Accenture and MGM are all actively investing in Metaverse as a client support and employee training tool.
A sustainable alternative
The most obvious sustainable impact of the Meta verse is that it will reduce the amount of travel people will need to do for fun or business activities. This could potentially reduce a lot of environmental pollution.
Another benefit is the possibility of substituting trendy fast fashion (one of the most wasteful industries) with digital fashion, which takes 90% less CO2 to produce. Keeping up with the endless cycle of fashion trends through the Metaverse and only physically buying long-lasting items, might solve our fashion overproduction problem.
However, there is also concern that Meta verse will increase greenhouse gas emissions since it uses Cloud, VR and AI technologies that require large amounts of energy. With Metaverse still in its infancy, it is hard to say if it will become more energy efficient before its energy consumption becomes a problem.
As you can see, the Metaverse is as much a sociological shift as a technological one. It’s going to raise new questions about privacy, access inequality, health concerns, intellectual property rights, protection of children and millions of other legal issues.
And it’s important that we address each of these questions with as much thought as we can. It is also important to DO IT NOW, before we turn Metaverse into the dystopian concept that originally inspired it.