We are bombarded with concepts and ideas for new technology almost daily; some make it to production, even fewer are good, and rarely does something come along that would go on to affect our everyday lives. When Mark Zuckerberg announced Metaverse, we watched one of those game-changing announcements. The word is out there, and everyone has something to say, but many are still questioning - what does the Metaverse mean?
So what is the Metaverse?
The technology shows great potential, and it almost feels like talking about the internet in the 1980s. Metaverse, the term itself, was coined by Neal Stephenson in the sci-fi novel Snow Crash. He referred to Metaverse as a digital world parallel to the real world. In today's discussions, Metaverse is the new interactive digital environment where users are represented by avatars and can interact with each other in a 3D virtual world. A simple definition of Metaverse would be that it's the 3D version of the internet.
One of the critical things about Metaverse is that it is backed by some of the biggest technology companies in the world. Facebook was the first big public backer. They showed that they are betting big on the Metaverse by changing their proprietary name to Meta, and the company is now focused on bringing the Metaverse to life. Microsoft recently announced a new version of teams that will support digital avatars and provide the ability to share PowerPoint and Excel files directly within the Metaverse. These are just two big companies actively participating in making the Metaverse by investing billions. Some analysts have estimated that Metaverse could be valued at $30 trillion in marketplaces within 10 to 15 years. For comparison, the entire US economy was valued at $25 trillion in 2021. Based on such big bets and forecasts, it definitely looks like the Metaverse will be the new internet.
Is Metaverse more than just gaming?
The one-word answer is yes! However, a gaming platform like Fortnite is a good example. Its users have personalized avatars, interact with other avatars in a 3D virtual world, and can earn virtual currency to buy advanced outfits. Beyond the gaming aspect, though, the business Metaverse will allow people to operate their companies, recruit and train talent, interact with customers, and sell their products. Furthermore, you can also use the Metaverse for social purposes, like meeting some friends for a virtual golf game or walking around a scenic lake. Metaverse can be used by companies and individuals for varied purposes, from business to leisure.
The future of the Metaverse
Metaverse will be the next step built on some of today's nascent technologies like Mixed Reality, Blockchain, NFTs, Web 3.0, and the like. Even though a mature Metaverse is years away, several concepts are already becoming concrete. For example, companies already use Virtual Reality for use cases like client presentations, workshops, and team events. The Metaverse's immersive, persistent and decentralized nature presents multiple opportunities for businesses. As the nascent technologies advance, companies will be able to monetize the Metaverse by enriching consumer experience, marketing products virtually, and securely collecting data on consumer activities. Metaverse office meetings will be a regular thing for companies.
There are various ways to access Metaverse, but using a VR headset will give you the most immersive experience. Today's VR technology overcomes the geographical distance by placing all participants as avatars in a digital environment where participants feel immersed in their surroundings and with the content. Today, this technology is used on a case-by-case basis, but as Metaverse evolves, it will become ubiquitous in our daily lives, just like the internet is today. The difference could be that rather than viewing the digital world through a screen, we will have a 3D digital world just a tap away, enabling us to seamlessly switch between the real and digital worlds.