What is the metaverse

Metaverse Defined:

In an interview with Casey Newton from the Verge, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, shared his thoughts on being a Metaverse company.
Since the acquisition of Oculus in 2014, Zuckerberg has been quite vocal about the new virtual way of social interaction and collaboration. The Metaverse further propels Facebook’s vision of bringing the world closer together. Although a lot of people think of the Metaverse as a gaming environment, it basically means a universe beyond the physical world. Or in other words, a space where you can be entertained, work, socialize, learn and so much more, so the internet, but in 3D.

Some of the features of the Metaverse

Digital Avatars

One of the central aspects of the Metaverse is creating digital avatars of oneself to express our emotions and feelings in an unconventional way. Digital avatars are an unconventional way to express oneself because although they could be exact replicas of your human form they could also be replicas of your favourite pop culture figure or something entirely new. Giving users the option to customize their avatars induces the idea of gamification, leading to an interactive and immersive experience. Think of the 4.66 billion people who are currently using the internet. What if each of us created AI-enabled Digital Twins, who could travel to the remotest areas, share knowledge, and interact with other avatars?

Want to know more about Digital Avatars? Read here

Hardware

When we think of the Metaverse, we think of Virtual Reality headsets, which will teleport us to the world of infinite interactive space. But that’s just one of the ways to get into the virtual universe. Technologies such as smartphones, tablets, PC’s and laptops also act as an access point to the Metaverse. Although it is important to talk about human-interface devices, it is equally pivotal to highlight the infrastructure that will help us stay connected in the Metaverse. 

Infrastructure

The Metaverse is an online universe which will keep expanding just like the internet of today. Considering this fact, it goes without saying that we would need powerful 5G towers to bring ultrafast speeds, greater capacity, and ultra-low latency to have enjoyable experiences in the Metaverse. Recently, South Korea’s ICT Ministry launched an industry alliance between 17 companies, including major wireless carrier SK Telecom Co and auto giant Hyundai Motor Co., and eight industry groups, such as the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association, to bolster the development of the Metaverse technology and ecosystem. This infrastructure will be what makes or breaks the adoption of the Metaverse.

Beyond the hardware infrastructure needed, the Metaverse will have so many worlds interconnected just like the internet has an almost unlimited amount of websites interconnected today. This means there will need to be a way for users to move seamlessly from one Metaverse world to another. All while maintaining their avatar, 3D inventory, and other cross platform features.

Experiences

It is quite mind-boggling to imagine all of the physical experiences that we have in the real world coming under one virtual roof. Be it Zoom or Discord calls to our colleagues or getting into Monday morning meetings in the Rec Room. All of these scattered experiences will converge into one holistic experience, which will help us to navigate the infinite world. For instance, in the education space, students will join a shared virtual room and collaborate remotely. Teachers will take students through endless field trips and hands-on learning experiences through the click of a button.

Beyond education, friends will be able to get together to experience everything from a rollercoaster at an amusement park to a moon landing. All ending with a virtual drink at your friends favourite TV bar or cafe.

Security

For the past few decades, cyberthreats have remained one of the biggest challenges for companies around the world. Undoubtedly, before conceptualizing the architecture of the metaverse, it is important to talk about ethics and privacy within the ecosystem. Just like the internet and different online communities of today there will always be the need to make secure transactions remotely and monitor people’s behaviour to ensure they are acting ethically. Blockchain is an interesting technology that might allow this to happen at scale but we also need to think about the morals and ethics of the company behind the metaverse. No matter who has the control the metaverse will be unlimited wealth of data so the companies/authorities controlling it need to ensure the personal data collected is stored securely and deleted once no longer needed.

Movies like Ready Player One and Tron have shown us glimpses of the Metaverse world; however, creating an infrastructure supporting the vast virtual world is challenging and requires excellent synergy between private and public sectors to fuel digital growth. But with companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Roblox and RecRoom investing in their versions of Metaverse, it won’t be long before humans truly have two lives: real and virtual. 

In conclusion

Technologies like Virtual Reality will have a bigger role to play in the coming Metaverse. Within seconds you will create your own human-like avatar, enter into a virtual room with friends, and enjoy all the internet has to offer but in realistic 3D. 

That said, it needs to be built with ethics and morals as it’s foundation so that it can deliver on all the promises society dreams of.