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What Is the Metaverse Exactly and Why Should You Care?

By gswardman July 22, 2022

You’ve probably come across the term “metaverse” multiple times in the recent past even if you are not in tech. It is the hottest thing in tech, and its impact will likely transcend tech circles, profoundly changing how we do things and live. Some of the biggest companies have thrown their weight behind it with Facebook opting to change its company name to Meta.

So, what exactly is this metaverse and why should you care? How is it changing how people do things? Is the Metaverse already here or is it for the future? These and many other important questions you might have about the metaverse are answered in this post.

What Is the Metaverse And Why Should You Care?

The Universal Definition of The Metaverse

There are many ways to define the metaverse. However, the metaverse is fundamentally a combination of interconnected and interoperating technologies that enable people to live and experience alternative virtual worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the metaverse is not VR- virtual reality, nor does it belong to Meta– the company behind Facebook.

Metaverse Origins- Is It A New Thing?

The term metaverse sounds like a cool new thing but it first surfaced in a 1992 novel by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his novel titled “Snow Crash”. In the book, Neil Stephenson dreamed up a pretty accurate description of a metaverse consisting of virtual worlds where realistic virtual interactions and virtual experiences took place.

Technological and human constraints made it almost impossible to imagine a world where people could have real experiences in a digital virtual space. However, disruptive innovations like VR, AR, AI blockchain, and other digital technologies are making the imaginary metaverse a reality. The metaverse rides on many technologies that work together to enable meaningful and highly desirable virtual experiences.

How Does the Metaverse Work?

VR, AR And the Metaverse

How Does the Metaverse Work

Virtual reality and augmented reality are big enablers of the metaverse- the metaverse wouldn’t exist without virtual reality and augmented reality. Everything you experience in the metaverse is delivered through some form of virtual reality; augmented reality combined with other technologies.

The Metaverse And Web 3.0

The metaverse and web 3.0 are so tightly connected that some people use the two terms interchangeably.  The reason for this is that a lot of the things happening in it are delivered through web 3.0, which is said to be richer, decentralized, interactive, immersive, and more liberalized. A lot of the innovations happening in the metaverse are because of web 3.0.

How Did We Get Here? Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0

To understand the relationship between web 3.0 and the metaverse, you need to know where we’ve come from and what web 3.0 promises. Here is a look at the various key stages or versions of the internet and the world wide web and how they are different from web 3.0 and the metaverse.

Web 1.0

The very first version of the world wide web consisted of simple and static web pages with mostly text and simple weblinks for navigation. Web 1.0 did not have any interactivity, and was limited to simple information publishing, communication, and other simple functions. Most web 1.0 end-users were content consumers.

Web 1.0 content was mainly constructed using simple HTML formatting using tables and frames and stored on traditional web servers without databases. Simple graphics using the gif format were introduced at some point but it was not much in terms of aesthetics and was not interactive.

Web 1.0 was great for its time due to the limited computing power and internet bandwidth available at the time. However, with constant improvements in these two aspects over the years, it became possible to introduce more functionality to the web. There was a growing demand for rich content and more people wanted to use the web to publish different types of content, advertise and even sell products.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 was centered around user-generated content and a growing userbase gave rise to new types of content. Blogs, e-commerce, personal websites, social media, forums, RSS feeds, mobile applications, and podcasts came with web 2.0.

The term “social web” is often used to refer to web 2.0 because of the amount of user-generated content published over the years and the success of social media platforms.  Advanced HTML, stylesheets, and multimedia technologies-built web 2.0 making it interactive, dynamic, and more user-focused.

However, emerging technologies and content types meant a whole new overhaul was needed to enable new experiences and changing needs from all stakeholders. For instance, the emergence and growth of VR technology and gaming changed how users experienced digital technology and how content was delivered. The new iteration of the web and internet are meant to accommodate these new approaches to web experiences and content delivery.

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is the newest kid on the block. It is meant to unlock new ways to deliver content and experiences through the internet. This iteration of the web carries on from where web 2.0 reached by accommodating emerging technologies that have had limited reach and use cases in the past. For example, web 3.0 allows the construction of decentralized networks with blockchain technology that changes how people transact and communicate on the internet.

The main technologies powering web 3.0 and the metaverse by extension include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Virtual reality (VR)
  • Blockchain technology
  • The social web
  • Lidar technology
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • The internet of things (IoT)
  • HTML5 and other web construction technologies
  • Data Analytics
  • 3D imaging and holographic technology
  • Video technology
  • The Cloud – cloud computing
  • Fast broadband internet

All these technologies are interconnected on the modern internet which makes it possible to build complex realistic virtual worlds that constitute the metaverse. As an example, you can have immersive social experiences using VR and AR connected on the social web and with underlying technologies such as AI and IOT enabling interactivity and a feeling of presence.

What Is the Use of The Metaverse, Really?

The real use of the metaverse is to deliver realistic alternative virtual worlds or spaces where people can go and do anything possible. The metaverse is a digital world or worlds because different private entities are working on their projects all centered around it. Currently, users can travel to the metaverse using a combination of VR and AR with headsets and other devices.

Since conversations around the metaverse became mainstream, there have been many demos and real-life use cases by leading tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft. The following are some of the practical uses of the metaverse based on existing beta releases and demos:

Entertainment in the Metaverse

Entertainment in the Metaverse

Imagine being able to attend concerts, sporting events, competitions, and other entertainment gigs without actually traveling. Entertainment is likely to be one of the most popular activities you can indulge in on the metaverse. As envisioned by Meta, Microsoft, and other companies working on metaverse projects, people will be able to access a whole range of entertainment content in ultra-realistic virtual worlds in the metaverse.  Ariana Grande and Travis Scott have already held metaverse concerts.

A great example or demo you can use to imagine how entertainment will work on the metaverse is Meta’s virtual concert demo. In a recent Meta connect event, CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed a pretty impressive demo of how a metaverse user could attend live concerts through the metaverse remotely. By using VR and other technologies, users will be able to attend both real-life and virtual events and have realistic entertaining experiences and interactions.

Another example of entertainment in the metaverse is the ability to join virtual video gaming sessions using avatars for a more realistic and immersive experience. You will be able to interact with other players in the virtual worlds. Future e-sports events and competitions could be done entirely on the metaverse with real players using avatars on interconnected VR networks. Games like Roblox are already in the metaverse.

Work on The Metaverse

Work on The Metaverse

The metaverse is set to transform how people collaborate, communicate and get things done. A section of the metaverse is dedicated to work-related applications built to enable realistic virtual meetings, collaborative spaces, and new ways to communicate.  You’ll be able to do a lot of meaningful and income-generating productive work.

For example, instead of using traditional virtual work applications like zoom for meetings, you can hold realistic meetings in the metaverse using interactive avatars. The avatars are programmed to render your physical gestures to the virtual world and even transfer interaction with objects in the real world.

There is a lot of work going on to make work in the metaverse practical and more desirable than what we have today. While big players like Facebook and Microsoft work on the underlying technologies and platforms, other innovators are working on applications that will be available as solutions in the metaverse.

Examples of work-related uses for the metaverse include:

  • Virtual meetings
  • Face-to-face communication using avatars and holograms in future
  • Virtual training sessions
  • Team building in the virtual spaces
  • Collaboration and teamwork in the metaverse
  • Product demonstrations
  • Virtual selling
  • Virtual advertising- billboards, video boards, etc.

To make the idea of working in the metaverse practical, there is an industry-wide effort to make its core technologies and vendor platforms as interoperable as possible.  Companies like Meta have promised that they will have an API to enable third-party applications to work on its metaverse. What this means is that users will be able to jump from one virtual space to another without restrictions.

Physical day-to-day Activities on the Metaverse

The main idea behind the metaverse is to make it as realistic and desirable as possible so that people can spend long periods of their time on it doing normal activities. With this in mind, companies like Meta have come up with metaverse applications that will enable you to do normal day-to-day activities like hiking, swimming and even going to the gym on the metaverse.

You will of course need more than just a VR headset to experience some of the practical real-life experiences on the metaverse. It is expected that a whole range of devices centered around the metaverse will be made to help users do anything on the internet. Most of the innovations to enable these experiences will be made by third parties who will use APIs to connect their devices to the metaverse.

Augmented reality is a great example of a technology that is currently being tested on real-world metaverse applications. Using AR sensors and software, metaverse users can be able to interact with virtual objects in the metaverse and even bring physical objects in their space into the metaverse. With time, it will possible to do anything you would do in the real world on the metaverse.

It’s important to note, however, that the metaverse aims to enhance our abilities and allow us to do things better than we would in the real world. For instance, instead of watching a gym exercise on tv, you will be able to join a gym session with other users on the metaverse. This would allow you to not only interact with other people but also access experts that you wouldn’t normally access.

As an example, imagine being able to join a live gym session with a celebrity athlete among the trainers in the metaverse.  You will be able to see and interact with them in the virtual space, replicating what they are doing and also having fun at the same time. The metaverse will enable these kinds of experiences and more.

Business in The Metaverse

One of the core technologies powering web3.0 and the metaverse by extension is the blockchain. Blockchain technology will likely be used to construct all transaction-based applications and products on the metaverse. It will enable to buy and sell goods and services powered by trustless, decentralized ledger transaction systems on various blockchain networks in the metaverse.

Current demos of the metaverse already allow users to trade virtual goods and services all powered by both private and public DEFI blockchains (decentralized finance). For example, you can buy virtual items for popular games in the metaverse, create and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and offer services to other people on the metaverse.

Communication in the Metaverse

The metaverse is likely to transform how people use the internet to communicate by making it more interactive, immersive, and faster. Instead of sending emails, text messages, or video calls, you will be able to meet and talk to anyone you want in the metaverse. These interactions will initially be done with realistic avatars. However, as technology improves, you may be able to replicate real-world interactions using ultra-realistic holograms and realistic virtual renders of physical spaces- like your living room- in the metaverse.

Education and Training in the Metaverse

In a recent Connect event about the metaverse, Meta demonstrated how education and training could be transformed using the metaverse. Based on their plans and demo, their metaverse will allow people to attend school and training sessions with great flexibility and convenience.

Practically, metaverse education will be used for situations where it is not possible to attend physically. However, those already utilizing online education and training will have a richer, more participative experience in the metaverse attending classes virtually.

These are just a few of the uses of the metaverse as envisioned by current backers like Meta, Microsoft, and a few other technology companies. Who knows what it will become in the future as web 3.0 takes shape and adoption improves? There is a lot to look forward to in the metaverse, or not? Perhaps the metaverse is just another overhyped tech fad that will fade away with time.

Is It Safe to Be in The Metaverse?

Is It Safe to Be in The Metaverse

In its current state, it is fair to that the metaverse is a safe place to be. All the technologies currently used to deliver metaverse experiences have been tested and approved by the FCC and other regulatory bodies. However, there is a lot to be learned about the technology. It is advisable to follow safety guidelines from the companies behind the products you use to experience metaverse.

Is the Metaverse a Kind of Internet? Will It Replace the Internet?

The metaverse uses the internet to deliver realistic virtual experiences to users and to enable interconnectivity. In its current state, the metaverse is just a component of the internet. However, with time, the line between the internet and the metaverse will blur as everyone will be accessing internet resources through the metaverse.

Pros and Cons Metaverse

Pros

As with any technology, the metaverse has its advantages and disadvantages. It is believed that the metaverse will make our life more advanced by improving how we do things. For example, it will help improve how we work by eliminating physical meetings, commutes, or cumbersome processes.

Cons

Many people have expressed concerns over the addictive nature of devices and technologies powering the metaverse. There are also worries over the long-term mental and physical effects of living in virtual alternative worlds in the metaverse.  Time will tell if solutions will be found to address some of these problems or if people will feel comfortable spending long hours in the metaverse.

What Does Metaverse Mean for The Future?

The metaverse will likely become part of life on earth as more people warm up to the idea of virtual worlds and digital experiences. It is believed that the metaverse will become the primary mode of interaction, communication, and many other aspects of our lives. What do you think? Is the metaverse the future? Get started building applications for the metaverse today. Hire a developer today.