A few months ago, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg gave a hint about a project that will change the way we use the internet and how Facebook (and its sister social media like Instagram and WhatsApp) will metamorphose due to their incorporation into this project.
He followed up a few weeks later with this amazing video of a digital universe called the Meta, where people can use the power of virtual and augmented reality to appear in distant geographic locations and interact with people, without necessarily being there physically.
Prior to this, there has been a spate of innovations in the development and application of virtual and augmented reality in games and videos.
VR gadgets are currently being used for playing games, watching movies, and navigating through distant locations. The Metaverse has been a trendy topic of conversation today with both Microsoft and Facebook justling to stake higher claims.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a fusion of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, and video where users “live” within and traverse through a digital universe. Supporters of the metaverse envision its users working, playing, and staying connected with friends through everything from concerts and conferences to virtual trips around the world.
The word “Metaverse” is credited to author Neal Stephenson. In his 1992 novel titled “Snow Crash”, Neal coined the word which depicted his vision of lifelike avatars who met on realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
Metaverse: The ‘Now’
The metaverse has since left the conceptualization stage. Many companies have achieved significant milestones on their quest to build metaverses — online virtual worlds which incorporate virtual reality, augmented reality, video, holographic avatars, and even tactile technology. As the metaverse keeps expanding, it will offer hyper-real alternative worlds for people to coexist in.
The metaverse concept has already been incorporated into online game universes such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite. And the companies behind those games have ambitions to be part of the evolution of the metaverse.
Big Tech Names Building Their Metaverses
Some big companies are currently spearheading the metaverse’s evolution. They are highlighted below:
As mentioned earlier, the management of Facebook recently changed its name to reflect on its foray into the Virtual Reality Ecosystem. Facebook has already made significant investments in virtual reality, including the 2014 acquisition of Oculus. Meta is developing a virtual world where people can use 3D avatars to interact, work, play or travel using VR headsets and tactile technology. Mark Zuckerberg has continually expressed his belief that the metaverse could replace the internet as we know it. According to him, “The next platform and medium will be an even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse.”
Microsoft is one of the topmost companies spearheading the metaverse revolution. The software giant has already incorporated the use of holograms and is developing mixed and extended reality (XR) applications with its Microsoft Mesh platform.
The platform is a combination of the real world, augmented, and virtual reality. Microsoft has also revealed plans to bring mixed-reality including holograms and virtual avatars to its enterprise software — Microsoft Teams in 2022.
There are also developments ongoing in explorable 3D virtual connected spaces for retail and workplaces. Also, the United States Army is working with Microsoft on an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset for soldiers to train, rehearse and fight in. Beyond that, Xbox Live, Microsoft’s gaming platform already connects millions of video game players across the globe.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of the company that developed Fortnite, has said, “It’s no secret that Epic is invested in building the metaverse.” It’s held concerts by the likes of Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, movie trailers and music debuts, and even an “immersive” re-imagining of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 historic “I Have A Dream” speech. And it’s developing photorealistic digital humans with its MetaHuman Creator, which could be how you customize your digital doppelganger in future open-world games.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says the metaverse has a lot of potentials and his company is investing accordingly.
“We’re a company in the business of innovation,” the Apple CEO said. “So we’re always exploring new and emerging technologies. And I’ve spoken at length about how this area is very interesting to us.”.
Also, there are a lot of rumors that Apple is developing its own VR/AR hardware.
Currently when you hear something about the Metaverse, often it can be also connected with cryptocurrencies.
Metaverse cryptocurrency or tokens are a unit of virtual money that can be used to purchase virtual items or make digital transactions within the metaverse. Metaverse tokens are not entirely different from other cryptocurrencies and tokens, but they are attached to the same industry. They have been touted to be the mainstream cryptocurrency killers. However, some analysts believed that metaverse tokens will not fight against but strengthen existing cryptocurrencies because many of the new metaverse tokens are built on existing blockchains such as Ethereum.
Some Metaverse tokens include:
- The Sandbox (SAND)
- Axie Infinity (AXS)
- Decentraland (MANA)
- Star Atlas (ATLAS)
- Enjin Coin (ENJ)
Metaverse: The Future
Of course, the future of metaverse is a huge separate topic. Considering the developments that we are witnessing in the creation of the metaverse and ongoing projects and plans being made, Neal Stephenson might get to see some of his fictional scribblings come to life in his lifetime. The applications for the metaverse are endless… Virtual tourism; virtual workspaces; virtual libraries with virtual books; virtual time travel to historic periods; virtual picnics at locations that would have been previously inaccessible e.g Northpole, mountain peaks, space, etc; virtual fashion and accessories; virtual meetings at places of worship… the list is endless. We look forward to these amazing virtual reality experiences in the near future.
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