A Brief on the Metaverse
Humans have existed on this planet since the last 6 billion years. Exploration and experiences led to our evolution. But there seems to be a certain shortage of space for further expeditions. Land and waters have been well imprinted by humans, and in this search for newer spaces to transverse, technology created a virtual space which is known to us as “The Metaverse.”
What Neal Stephenson imagined in his Science Fiction ‘Snow Crash’ (1992) has now taken the form of a reality.
“The Metaverse “ is more than just a scientific reality. It happens to be the future of social interactions, business and newer experiences. With growing advances in technology, impossible things are turning alive. People can visit newer places that have no real origin, wear virtual clothes and experience a virtual world with fewer boundaries. They are ready to invest in these newer experiences and hence leading to the creation of a different business model.
Metaverse Definition -
The Metaverse is a virtual space that connects various digital technologies like Internet, Social networks, Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), video conferencing, cryptocurrency etc. so that Humans can interact virtually and in a futuristic way. It is a new dimension itself, where humans can take their virtual forms through ‘Avatars’ and experience a simulation.
In simple words, The Metaverse is Digital environment where one can exist as a digital manifestation known as ‘Avatars’ which present life-like physical features of the user. The ‘Avatar’ can then meet other real people expressed in the same manner, and interact. People are able to produce desired personal spaces, like houses inside the Metaverse and real economic activities can also take place, through the use of Cryptocurrencies.
The current virtual interactions are limited to certain extents. Although we are able to communicate and interact with other users from our devices, we cannot be in their presence in a well acknowledged space. The Metaverse promises to enhance our user experience to the point of convergence between the physical and virtual worlds.
Have we already experienced it?
The Metaverse does not exist completely, but recent discoveries suggest that there is a positive trend in its development. In some way or the other, we have experienced glimpses of the Metaverse through games like Roblox, and Fortnite, where the users play with real life people in a completely virtual setup. Not only is it fun, but there is a large scope for economic exchange in these games.” Roblox generated $920 million revenue in 2020, a 111 percent increase year-on-year.” (Roblox Statistics 2020)
Other games and social applications like ‘The Sims’, ‘Second Life’, ‘IMVU’, clearly exhibit the characteristics of the Metaverse.
Features of the Metaverse -
As we look more into it, The Metaverse serves as an all-inclusive platform. There is a scope to virtualize any aspect of a human’s life, be it social, economic, educational, entertainment etc. and in times like the present Covid 19 Pandemic, virtual seems to be the only possible means of communication.
Here are some of the features of the Metaverse
An Open Virtual Space-
In the virtual reality of the Metaverse one can fill up the empty spaces as desired. By programming, virtual setups like houses, partying spaces, meeting rooms or any imaginable destination can be acquired. In the virtual world of the Metaverse, one can design experiences that are impossible in the real world. Thus Human exposure is enhanced. This Virtual Space can be reached by anyone through devices like Mobile phones, Personal computers, Laptops, etc. Hence one can reach different places, beyond the real world.
Connecting with people-
The most significant feature of the Metaverse is to connect people in a more astounding way. Modern technologies have been trying to eradicate distance between people, without involving any traveling. The main aim is to bring people from all over the world together, so that we can look beyond our cultural differences and create a better lifestyle. Also, there is a need to connect with our friends and family who don’t live in the same place as us. The Metaverse serves as a safe place for people who seek companionship, A meeting room for corporations where new innovative ideas are born and an alternative reality where any imaginative architecture can be manifested.
Enhancing Virtual Experience through VR devices-
The current technological aspects already enable us to talk and interact with people virtually . But our senses can easily determine how we exist in different environments. In the Metaverse we can experience a different form of connection with our peers irrespective of places where we are. Through Virtual Reality devices our senses will expand beyond the senses of sight, and hearing. Inside the Metaverse our senses will be deceived and our virtual surroundings will appear more real. This will present newer experiences which are quite impossible in the real world.
The concept of Virtual Economy is not new to us. It is an economic sphere which is thriving with newer developments and extending scope. The current Cryptocurrency services are also involved in the Metaverse which enables economic progress in it. In digital platforms like ‘Decentraland’ users can buy digital plots of land as NFTs via the MANA cryptocurrency, which uses the Ethereum blockchain. Similarly VR gaming platforms like ‘Somnium Space’ allow users to buy digital property and VR experiences.
Recent trends have given rise to Virtual Fashion. Luxury brands like ‘The Gucci Garden’, ‘Burberry’, ‘Balenciaga’ and others have started to launch their virtual fashion series on platforms like ‘Roblox’, ‘Blankos Block Party’, and ‘Fortnite’. Analysts at Morgan Stanley say the market for virtual luxury goods could be as large as $50 billion by 2030. (Forbes account on Luxury Brands and Virtual fashion Trends)
Hence with the Metaverse being established, newer sources of Virtual Economy are feasible.
Present Human activities need to be very considerate. Due to world wide effects of climate change and other environmental issues, every action of man needs to be towards the betterment of the Environment. There is a trend in recent years where businesses are shifting towards Environmental friendly alternatives. The Metaverse is Economic as well as Eco friendly.
The elimination of the need to travel reduces a lot of pressure on the environment. There are grounds in which the Metaverse could perform better. As it uses VR technology, it does harm the environment in a certain way. But the leading developers of the Metaverse are looking for sustainable alternatives.
“ ‘Meta’ has pledged to reach net-zero emissions across its operations and the value chain by 2030.
“ ‘Microsoft”, a leader in leasing US multi-tenant data centres, has committed to completely shift to renewable energy for its Azure cloud platform by 2025. The company also plans to replenish more water than it consumes by 2030 and get certified for zero waste by 2030.
These commitments may lead to Metaverse running on sustainable sources.” - (CNBCT’s report on the Environmental Aspects of the Multiverse)
Development of the Metaverse-
The Metaverse which now seems to be a world altering phenomenon, was barely just an idea in the past. Starting from the invention of the “Internet” and the “World Wide Web”, which laid the foundation of the Metaverse, a series of names have contributed towards its manifestation. Neal Stephenson originated the idea of the Metaverse through his Science Fiction, in 1992. After that Philip Rosedale and his team created the first ever online virtual platform named ‘Second World’ in 2003. Since then the World saw the development of “Bitcoin”,- the World’s first successful crypto currency and blockchain platform, “Facebook” acquired Virtual Reality Hardware, and a number of games like “Fortnite” and “Pokemon Go” developed. The latest and the most important events towards the development of the Metaverse are Microsoft unveiling a Metaverse platform named “Mesh” and Mark Zuckerberg’s engagement to develop the Metaverse further as the future of the Internet.”Facebook” is planning to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to make Metaverse an omnipresent reality.
Current Developments that support the growth of the Metaverse-
Technological Giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are working towards the overall development of the Metaverse. By working on separate projects each Company is trying to get a step closer to make Metaverse a reality. In the current scenario it is worth mentioning the efforts of Facebook. By changing its name to “Meta” Facebook is trying to get a hold of the Metaverse. Not only that, Mark Zuckerberg vouches that the Metaverse is the future of the Internet.
The Governments of various countries have also shown their interests in the Metaverse. South Korea, for example, aims to be the 5th largest country in the global Metaverse market by 2026 through a team of 220 companies that are highly specialized in the Metaverse technology. Santa Monica partnered with “Flickpay” to become the first U.S city having an existence in the Metaverse.
The Virtual World of Metaverse has the potential to become the next great technological innovation. By presenting its multidimensional aspects, the Metaverse has already caught the attention of some of the Technological Giants of the world. Not only does it bring people together, but also enhances their User Experiences. There is a great scope for the Metaverse to become the next “Reality”. A version of the Internet where most of the aspects of a human life will be virtualized. Be it, Entertainment, Economy or Education.