Virtual worlds, today’s Internet and elements of the real world are combined in an interactive and limitless environment. This is the Metaverse, the internet of the future. But what is this metaverse actually, do we need it and when does it start?
What Is the Metaverse?
Microsoft, Facebook, Jackpotcity, game companies like Fortnite inventors Epic Games, and corporations like Walmart and Kaufland: All dream of the Metaverse. This is still a vision – of the Internet of the future. This should unite the real and virtual worlds in a single environment. It could open up completely new possibilities that are still unimaginable today.
The Metaverse is a digital and interactive environment. In it, users can work, play, meet or shop as avatars. But it is not a parallel universe to the real world – everything is one. The idea has been floating around in the tech scene for quite a while. It got a new boost when Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would invest billions in Metaverse – and quickly renamed his company “Meta”. In the following paragraphs, we explain where the term metaverse comes from, what the virtual world could look like and what is still missing to implement it.
What Is the Metaverse & What Possibilities Does It Offer?
So far, the Metaverse is just the idea of a new type of virtual world. But one thing is clear: It should be more three-dimensional, more interactive, more tangible and more tangible than today’s Internet.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke of the “embodied Internet”: We are in it and not looking at it on the screen. Everything we do on the display today is possible virtually in a 3D format. Therefore, virtual reality and augmented reality will play an important role in the Metaverse. With the help of VR glasses, we could meet friends, take part in meetings, play games or shop on the internet of the future. We appear as avatars in the virtual world and interact with each other or friends appear as holograms in your living room. These ideas electrify many companies. However, everyone has different ideas about what they want to do in the Metaverse. Microsoft introduced “Mesh” a year ago: It’s a kind of office in virtual space. Facebook wants to create an all-encompassing metaverse that integrates many areas of everyday life.
Kaufland, Walmart, Adidas, Nike, H&M and other companies want to sell products in the Metaverse – mainly as NFT, i.e. as unique digital objects on the blockchain.
Characteristics of the Metaverse
The 7 most important characteristics of the Metaverse are:
- The Metaverse never pauses or ends.
- Everything happens in real-time.
- There is no participation limit.
- It has its own economy.
- It encompasses the digital and the physical world.
- Digital things and content are used everywhere.
- Content comes from companies, individuals or groups.
NFT – What Is It Actually?
Especially in the art world, you hear the term more and more often: non-fungible tokens. We took a closer look at what is behind it, where you can buy NFT art and how much money some people make with it.
What Makes the Metaverse Different From the Internet?
The metaverse is intended to contain elements of the real world. Virtual experiences should feel like in real life. Central is the idea that you can seamlessly transfer and take data and information with you. This is similar to going from one room to another in real life with a coffee mug! That’s not possible today because the Internet is divided into areas and platforms. You can’t watch YouTube videos on Netflix – and vice versa. Items you buy in one game can only be used there and not in another. Ideally, the Metaverse should no longer be controlled by anyone, including the big tech companies. Web 3.0 is often referred to in this context! That is why the blockchain plays an important role in the metaverse. The technology of the future is behind cryptocurrencies. It manages without a central instance but is still secure. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin should be a payment method in the Metaverse. You can use them to buy NFT, for example.
Where Does the Name Metaverse Come From & Are There Any Predecessors?
The term “Metaverse” comes from the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” from 1992. Author Neal Stephenson tells of a parallel world in which people live as avatars.
What is bizarre, however, is that the virtual world in the book is quite repulsive. It is ruled by big corporations and organized crime.
Other artists also deal with such ideas. In Steven Spielberg’s 2018 sci-fi film Ready Player One, people escape from their dystopian world into virtual reality. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, published in 2011.
In the digital world of Second Life, players have been able to play, live and shop with avatars since 2003. The hype was huge but quickly died down.
Other Metaverse prototypes include platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. They are booming: A digital property in Sandbox was recently sold for 3.8 million euros.
The popular game Fortnite has long been more than just a game – and shows where the journey could go. For example, you can go to concerts and amusement parks with friends or watch films.
Do We Even Need a Metaverse or Is It All Gibberish?
When the iPhone came out in 2007, then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer poked fun at it. It is much too expensive and uninteresting without a keyboard anyway! In fact, the breakthrough for the mobile age came with the iPhone – even though mobile internet and devices for it already existed before. Matthew Bell expects something similar. The influential thought leader wrote the essay The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to find it, Who Will Build It. He believes that the Metaverse is gradually starting a process of transformation. It will change the role that the internet and computers play in our lives.
Virtual reality applications have been considered the next big thing for years. However, they have not yet caught on with the general public. In companies, however, virtual reality plays an important role, for example in training or in development.
All big tech companies are working on VR technology or have already released some. These include Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Apple.
Although Apple has so far been reluctant to comment on Facebook’s idea of a metaverse, it is said to be secretly working on its own project.