People may believe the metaverse is synonymous with “The Matrix” or “Surrogates.” Are they far off? Here is a simple explanation of the metaverse, with the who, what, when, how, and whys.
Then, you decide if and how you fit in.
First up, what is the metaverse?
- The metaverse is an advanced version of the internet that is more immersive and interactive, where users can engage in various activities like work, play, socializing, and learning.
- The metaverse concept was introduced in Neal Stephenson’s science-fiction novel “Snow Crash” in 1992.
- The metaverse is a complex system that combines virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies to create a shared digital space where users can interact with each other and virtual objects.
- There isn’t a fully realized and functional metaverse yet.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual universe or collective virtual shared space created by combining physical and virtual reality. It is an advanced version of the internet that is more immersive and interactive, where users can engage in various activities like work, play, socializing, and learning.
In the metaverse, users can create and modify their avatars, interact with other users in real time, and engage in various activities, including gaming, shopping, attending virtual events, and even conducting business. The metaverse can possibly revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us, blurring the boundaries between physical and virtual reality. It’s still in its initial stages of development, but many companies are investing in creating their versions of the metaverse.
Who created the metaverse, and when did it start?
The metaverse concept was introduced in Neal Stephenson’s science-fiction novel “Snow Crash” in 1992. The story occurs in a dystopian future where a dangerous computer virus called “Snow Crash” infects users of a virtual reality network called the “Metaverse” and causes them to become catatonic in real life.
The novel explores the nature of reality, the dangers of unchecked corporate power, the intersection of technology and spirituality, and the impact of language and mythology on culture. It’s considered a classic of the cyberpunk genre and is known for its fast-paced action, sharp satire, and inventive use of language and technology.
However, creating the technical metaverse is a recent collaborative effort among many companies and individuals in the tech industry. In 2014, the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland came on the scene, which allowed users to buy and sell virtual land, goods, and services using cryptocurrency. Since then, several other companies, including Roblox and Epic Games, have also started working on building their versions of the metaverse. In 2021, Facebook announced it would focus on building the metaverse as a core part of its future business strategy, now under the Meta brand.
How does the metaverse work?
The metaverse is a complex system that combines virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies to create a shared digital space where users can interact with each other and virtual objects.
Here are some critical elements of how the metaverse works:
- Virtual environments: The Metaverse consists of various virtual environments, which can be anything from a virtual city to a fantasy world. Developers typically create these environments using 3D modeling software that users can access through virtual reality headsets or other devices.
- Avatars: In the metaverse, users are represented by avatars, digital representations of themselves. Users can customize these avatars to reflect their appearance and personality and control them using various input devices, such as game controllers or motion sensors.
- Social interaction: The metaverse is a social space where individuals can intermingle with each other in real-time. The social interaction can take many forms, such as chatting, voice communication, or even physical interactions like handshakes or hugs using haptic feedback technology.
- Commerce: The metaverse is also where users can engage in commerce, such as buying and selling virtual goods and services using digital currencies.
- Shared infrastructure: The metaverse relies on a shared infrastructure of servers, networks, and other technologies to facilitate user communication and interaction.
What’s an example of the metaverse?
There isn’t a fully realized and functional metaverse yet. However, several companies are working on creating their versions of the metaverse, which could be considered current working examples. Here are a few:
- Facebook Horizon Workrooms: Facebook Horizon Workrooms is a virtual reality platform that allows remote teams to collaborate and work together in a shared virtual space. Users can create avatars and interact with each other in real-time while using virtual whiteboards and other tools to work on projects.
- Roblox: As a multiplayer internet game, Roblox enables users to create their own games and virtual worlds and interact with other players in real-time. It has a solid social and creative component, critical aspects of the metaverse.
- Minecraft with RTX: Minecraft with RTX is a version of Minecraft that uses real-time ray tracing technology to create more realistic graphics and lighting. It also supports cross-platform play, which means that players on different devices can interact with each other in the same virtual world.
- Somnium Space: Somnium Space is a blockchain-based virtual world allowing users to create and monetize their virtual experiences using a cryptocurrency called “Somnium Cubes.” Users can create custom avatars, buy and sell virtual land and objects, and participate in social events.
It’s worth noting that while these examples are all promising, they are still in the early stages of development, and none of them currently fully embody the vision of a fully-realized metaverse.
What’s a future example of the metaverse?
There are potentially many use cases for the metaverse in the future. Here’s one example:
Imagine a future where education occurs primarily in virtual reality, using the metaverse as a platform. Students could attend classes in a virtual classroom, with their avatars interacting with a virtual teacher and other students. The virtual classroom could be highly interactive, with students using virtual objects and tools to learn complex concepts hands-on.
For example, a biology class could take place in a virtual laboratory, where students can manipulate virtual cells and molecules to learn about the workings of the human body. A history class could take place in a virtual recreation of an ancient civilization, where students can explore and interact with the environment as if they were there.
Using the metaverse for education has many advantages, including:
- Accessibility: Students worldwide could attend the same virtual classes, regardless of their location or economic situation.
- Interactivity: The metaverse could provide a highly interactive and immersive learning experience, which could be more engaging and effective than traditional methods.
- Cost-effectiveness: Virtual classes could be less expensive to produce and deliver than traditional classes, potentially making education more accessible and affordable for everyone.
The above is just one example of how to apply the metaverse in the future. Many other potential use cases exist, such as virtual tourism, remote work, and socializing with friends and family globally.
Was the simple explanation of the metaverse helpful?
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