Everyone is talking about the "Metaverse" as the next big thing that will change online life. However, it seems that everyone has their own interpretation of the "Metaverse," if it even exists at all. But what is the Metaverse? The Metaverse (always capitalized in Stevenson's fiction literature) is described as a shared "imaginary realm" that is "made accessible to the public through a global fiber-optic network" and projected in virtual reality glasses in the novel.
Therefore, this concept can be applied to a digital world that has been enhanced with virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). The COVID-19 epidemic has sparked interest in the metaverse. As more and more people work and study online, there is a growing need for methods to make online contacts more realistic. In July 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company intends to create a more maximalist version of Facebook, which includes social presence, office work, and entertainment. Facebook changed its name to Meta on October 28, 2021, reflecting its greater commitment to creating a virtual environment known as the metaverse.
- Key Attributes of the Metaverse
- How Does the Metaverse Work?
- Virtual Reality Opportunities
- Is Cryptocurrency the Key to the Metaverse?
- Risks of the Metaverse
- Is the Metaverse Just a Facebook Initiative?
- The Future of the Metaverse
Key Attributes of the Metaverse
The most popular ideas about the Metaverse come from science fiction. It is often depicted as a digital "connected" Internet — a manifestation of real reality, but based on a virtual world.
So, the key attributes of the Metaverse can be defined as:
|Synchronization of Life
|Despite pre-planned and autonomous events occurring, the Metaverse will exist constantly for everyone and in "real life."
|The process never "resets," "pauses," or "ends" — it just continues indefinitely.
|Everyone can be part of the Metaverse and participate in a specific event/place/action simultaneously with other participants.
|Fully Functioning Economy
|Individuals and businesses should be able to create, own, invest, sell, and receive compensation for a wide range of efforts that create value recognized by others.
|The Metaverse should encompass both the digital and physical world, private and public networks, and open and closed platforms.
|Wide Range of Participants
|It should be filled with content and experience developed and managed by many participants, some of whom work independently, and others are informally organized or commercially oriented enterprises.
Today's digital world operates as if it were a shopping mall where each store has its own money, unique identity cards, and its own units of measure for items such as shoes or calories.
How Does the Metaverse Work?
Overall, the metaverse can be divided into two types of platforms. The first type involves the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies to create metaverse startups based on blockchain. People can buy virtual land and create their own settings on platforms such as Decentraland and The Sandbox. The second uses the metaverse to describe virtual worlds in general, where people can meet for business or entertainment.
People who buy or trade virtual assets on blockchain-based platforms must use cryptocurrencies, despite the fact that many metaverse projects offer free accounts. Users can trade NFT artworks or charge for entry to a virtual show or concert in Decentraland. They can earn money by trading land, the value of which has increased significantly in recent years. Also, earn money on Roblox, charging other users for access to their games.
Virtual reality is a way to experience the virtual world or realm. The sensation of being present in a digital world is not enough to form a metaverse. Moreover, the metaverse may have some gaming goals and use gamification, but it is not a game itself and is not goal-oriented. Therefore, it is neither "virtual reality" nor a "game."
Virtual Reality Opportunities
In crypto-metaverse projects, you can take a virtual trip, buy digital clothing, go to a virtual concert.
You can join a conference in virtual reality as an avatar or make a video call from your laptop or PC into a virtual room. This provides a convenient way to collaborate on ideas, transfer your computer and keyboard into virtual reality to collaborate with others, or just chat.
Is Cryptocurrency the Key to the Metaverse?
The goal of the Metaverse is to provide people with an augmented reality experience that can largely surpass physical sensations. The invulnerability and immutability of the blockchain are critical properties for any virtual reality technology that is to gain widespread adoption. Hacking and data breaches are common, but if it is assumed that people will work entirely in a virtual environment, the basic platform on which they will operate must be secure.
Blockchain not only allows information to be verified quickly but also provides cryptographically secure and protected transactions. Blockchain and crypto-assets are a fundamental and integral aspect of the deployment of virtual reality. The Metaverse will want and require transactions to be executed on demand, and blockchain and cryptocurrencies can help with this. For a real virtual reality environment to work as stated, transactions are required. These transactions must be secure and fast.
Specifically, people in this ecosystem should be able to:
- Make deals and interact as easily as if they were doing it in person.
- Be confident that these transactions will be completed.
Individuals and institutions can conduct transactions in a virtual, trackable mode and in real-time using cryptocurrency transactions, which are feasible and verified methods. Cryptocurrency-backed payments have become even more common in a virtual ecosystem such as the metaverse, and it makes sense that such payments will come to the forefront in the future.
Risks of the Metaverse
One of the issues is whether participants will have a single digital identity (or "avatar") that they will use throughout all their meetings.
There are also debates about the degree of functional compatibility required for the metaverse to be a "real metaverse" rather than just an evolution of the Internet. Some argue that the definition of the Metaverse requires a significant degree of decentralization, based primarily on community standards and protocols (similar to the open Internet). As well as OS or platforms with "open source."
Is the Metaverse Only a Facebook Initiative?
The Metaverse is not just an initiative by Facebook. Microsoft and chip manufacturer Nvidia are two other corporations pushing the metaverse. Companies that make video games are also taking the initiative. Epic Games, the creator of the famous video game Fortnite, has attracted 1 billion dollars from investors to help finance its long-term developments in the metaverse.
Another major player is the gaming platform Roblox, which describes the metaverse as a place where «people can gather together in millions of three-dimensional events to learn, work, play, create, and communicate.
Consumer brands are also trying to benefit from this trend. Gucci, an Italian fashion business, partnered with Roblox in June 2021 to sell a line of digital accessories. Coca-Cola and Clinique have sold digital tokens that were positioned as a gateway to the metaverse.
The Future of the Metaverse
The private industry is not only fully aware of the Metaverse's potential but also has the most aggressive belief in its future, not to mention the biggest money, best engineering skills, and the greatest ambitions to conquer it. Leading technology companies want to own and define the Metaverse. Open-source projects, with a non-corporate approach, will continue to play a significant role in the Metaverse. They will attract some of the most interesting creative talents. Previously, Facebook invested significant resources in virtual reality, including the acquisition of Oculus in 2014. Meta represents a virtual world where digital avatars interact through virtual reality headsets for business, travel, or leisure.
It's unclear how real the actual metaverse, which ideally reflects real life, can be, or how long it will take to create it. Many metaverse platforms based on blockchain are still working on AR and VR technologies to eventually allow users to interact with the environment.
PwC, a global consulting firm, estimates that virtual reality and augmented reality will increase the global economy by 1.5 trillion dollars by 2030 compared to 46.5 billion dollars in 2019.
Facebook Inc, Google, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corp have invested in companies dealing with cloud computing and virtual reality to anticipate the expansion of the industry.