A few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new brand and direction of Facebook - now Meta - along with his vision for the growth of the social media sector over the next few years.
His vision? The Metaverse.
The Metaverse, a term popularized by science fiction author Neal Stephenson and his dystopian novel Snow Crash, describes a shared, virtual reality universe unfolding across multiple delivery channels.
According to Zuckerberg and proponents of the Metaverse, the real beauty of the Metaverse lies in how it can promote collaboration and efficiency. It could dramatically transform the way we live, work and play.
The road to the Metaverse begins with gaming. The Metaverse is an entire universe–a digital playground where anyone can go and create anything.
One of the most popular ways to enter the Metaverse will be through gaming–and not just because gaming is fun, but because it has some of the most developed digital goods and active communities. Meta is among many tech companies working with game developers to lay the groundwork for interactive gaming, ensuring that users have a range of content to experience.
“Gaming provides many of the most immersive experiences and it is the biggest entertainment industry by far. Gaming in the metaverse is going to span from immersive experiences in fantasy worlds to bringing simple games into our everyday lives through holograms. Maybe you’ll play old games in new ways.”
During their keynote presentation, Meta announced an exciting lineup of games coming to Quest. That includes bringing back the fan-favorite Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the virtual world.
How Will We Get There?
So how is the metaverse coming to pass? Facebook struck a deal with Samsung for the most accurate 3D avatars of real people, while Microsoft has struck deals with most major TV manufacturers. As virtual reality platforms continue to gain traction and users gain interest in the technology - billions of dollars are being invested in building this next-gen digital reality.
The best way to understand the metaverse is to think of it as the next stage in the internet. It’s not just another app or website, but an environment that allows for completely new ways of interacting with each other and the digital world around us.
The Metaverse is made up of various types of spaces, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and real reality (RR).
The AR we see today — like the filters we add to our photos — is just a small snippet of the type of technology that is yet to come. Although these spaces are somewhat differentiated, they are often interrelated and integrated into one another. The variety of options makes them all the more exciting to enter into.
Who Is Building It?
Meta isn't the only company embracing virtual reality and augmented reality.
At their Ignite conference, Microsoft said it is already building out its ecosystem for Microsoft Teams, which it sees as the future of workplace communication. The company has already added mixed-reality capabilities to the platform, like holographic video, spatial sound and telepresence. The ability to replicate remote workers in physical spaces is coming by 2022, according to recent disclosure by Microsoft.
Optimistic, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ended his keynote with these words: “In a sense, the metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world and to embed the real world into computing, bringing real presence to any digital space. For years we've talked about creating this digital representation of the world. But now we actually have the opportunity to go into that world and participate in it. What's most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us and choose how we want to experience this world and who we want to interact with.”
The metaverse has the power to change every facet of human life and this new market is predicted to create the largest consumer base in history.
The scene is set for a wave of true digital transformation where businesses will need to continually adapt their technology platforms. This, if done properly, will change customers’ expectations and behavior.
As virtual worlds continue to grow in popularity and capabilities, we may soon see a merging of the real and the virtual. It may lead to a new way to communicate, or a new art form that can’t be experienced in any other way.
In other words, it remains to be seen what the Metaverse will look like when it’s finally created, but one thing is certain: it will be big.