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The Metaverse is our internets’ future. What is it?

The Metaverse is our internets’ future. What is it?

It’s a concept that is being hyped up at the moment and being talked about by some as the future of the internet. What is the metaverse and what does it mean for us, everyday people?

What is the metaverse?


In layman terms, you could say it’s a much better and more engaging version of a VR (virtual reality) world, but some people believe that the metaverse could be our internets’ future.

Imagine it from a different perspective; 20 years ago if you were to tell me that I’d be walking around with a computer in my pocket with almost the world's information, I wouldn’t believe you. Yet here we are 20 years later, all staring into our smartphones, the same could be said for VR and the metaverse.

But instead of staying on a computer, you may just use something as simple as a headset to immerse yourself in a virtual world connecting you to all sorts of digital environments you can think of!

Currently, VR is widely and mostly used for gaming and while more and more people are experimenting with it for other functionality, it’s currently heavily grounded in gaming, which is what the metaverse also seeks to change. Allowing you to not only play games but go to the cinemas with your mates, concerts, hang out or even work via the metaverse.

Kind of like the movie Ready Player One, where almost everyone uses some kind of VR headset for work or play, each person with their own unique 3D avatars, however, (hopefully) without the grim reality of it.

Of course, this is all still but a concept and currently there’s no agreed “vision” to what the definition of a metaverse would or should look like.


Why has it suddenly gotten a lot of hype?

Metaverse concept

Even as a kid, I’d remember every now and then the topic and conversation of virtual worlds or AR (augmented reality), would pop up every few years or so, and ever since VR, has increasingly being talked about. Even Microsoft working on their Hololens technology offers a taste of what AR could be.

In saying that, there’s a lot of excitement at the moment about the thing they’re calling the metaverse amongst many wealthy investors and big tech firms and in case the reality of this being our future, no one wants to miss out.

More so, at this time, there’s a bit more of a realistic look that this technology is almost there, with the advancements from VR gaming and connectivity coming close to what might be needed.


What’s the buzz around Facebook and the metaverse?

Facebook avatars

Facebook wants to make building the metaverse one of its biggest priorities, in fact, they’ve already started.

Facebook has invested in VR by acquiring Oculus headsets and making them cheaper than their rivals (some analysts say, at a loss). However, it’s also building VR apps for social hangouts and also for workplaces for virtual meetings, some even allowing you to interact with the real world around you.

While Facebook has a little bit of a history of buying up its rivals, they also claim that the metaverse can’t be built overnight or by a single company and have also promised to collaborate.

They’ve also recently invested $50m USD (approx. $67.07m AUD) in funding for non-profit groups to “help build the metaverse responsibly”. However, they believe this may take 1-2 decades to complete.


Who else is interested in the metaverse?

Fortnite with Marvel and DC

If it wasn’t obvious already, Tim Sweeny, the head of Epic Games (who make and work on Fortnite) and spoken many times about his aspirations for a metaverse.

Online multiplayer games and interactive worlds go hand-in-hand. That’s not the metaverse but they share similar ideas.

For the past few years, Fortnite has been expanding its product by hosting concerts by huge artists like Travis Scott or Ariana Grande or by collaborating with huge brands from Marvel, DC to Rick and Morty and even Balenciaga and many more. This shows what’s possible with a metaverse.

Other games in fact have also been getting closer to the idea of a metaverse, like Roblox as an example, which has a massive platform with thousands of individual games in a single larger ecosystem.

On the other hand, Unity, a 3D development platform is investing in “digital twins”, which are digital copies of the real world, from cities to landscapes. Nvidia, another graphics company is building its "Omniverse", which they describe as a platform for connecting 3D virtual worlds.


So it’s not all about games, is it?

Virtual world building

Not even in the slightest! Of course, there are many different ideas to what the metaverse may be in the end or what it can be, most envision it as being made for social human interactions, being for work or play.

Facebook, working on a few apps as described earlier, has been experimenting with VR meeting app called Workplace and a social space called Horizons, both of which use their virtual avatar system.


Another popular app, at least in the VR scene is VRChat, which is entirely focused around, hanging out online and chatting within a virtual work with an avatar of your choice. There’s no goal in particular other than meeting people, being social, and exploring. Other apps may already be in the works, but only time will tell.

Tim Sweeny of Epic games also envisions a world where a car manufacturer can advertise their new model by dropping into the virtual world and you’ll be able to test drive it in real-time.

A lot of people for many years have thought of an idea where you can go clothes shopping in a virtual world and try things on to see how they look without ever physically leaving your computer and that’s something that may be possible in the metaverse.


Does the technology exist yet?


While VR has come a long way in recent years with headsets that can trick your eyes into seeing in 3D as the player moves around the virtual world. They’ve become a lot more popular too, especially with the Oculus Quest 2 gaming headset, which in 2020 was a best seller for Christmas (maybe this year too?)

A concept like this can be hard to wrap your head around the logistics of how it will work, but the interest of NFTs as an example shows a reliable way to track ownership of certain digital goods and could point towards how a metaverse economy could work.

With the roll-out of 5G, it’s becoming closer to the reality for almost instant connections to wireless devices and used even to control robots from across the country. At the moment, we’re still in the extremely early stages and we can only watch and wait until the metaverse evolves, if that happens at all. It may take a few decades, but the future sounds exciting.

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