What is Metaverse?
The development of the metaverse is not slowing down – quite the opposite. Of course, the virtual world has its supporters and detractors. The latter usually argue using their reluctance, the overreach of social media and the fact that parallel worlds (for example, in games) have existed for many years. So, the concept itself is not new to them.
However, being in a new reality will allow you to take care of many more things in a shorter amount of time. It develops in parallel with our world and can serve not only players or users who want to be contacted through social media. The metaverse is a breakthrough space for companies as well. New technologies make it possible to automate many processes, reach more customers and facilitate collaboration between employees.
The pandemic has undoubtedly prompted us to talk more about the use of the metaverse, as many companies decided to launch a remote or hybrid work system. Practically everyone benefited from it. Business owners realized that they did not need such large office spaces, while employees also saved considerable amounts of time (sometimes even several hours a day) due to the lack of commuting.
Developing a metaverse can be likened to a lifestyle change. Previously, the Internet and then mobile phones offered us a similar shift in our daily lives. We can do more and more while saving a lot of time.
More about Metaverse
It is like the discovery of a new planet where, unlike with the standard Internet, users can interact with each other through their avatars in virtual reality, just like in a computer game.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg described the concept as a “virtual environment” that users can enter and immerse themselves in using technologies such as VR headsets, augmented reality glasses, 3D, 2D or other devices. However, it is important to note that metaverse does not belong to Facebook despite the company’s name change to Meta – the metaverse does not belong to anyone.
How does it work?
To understand the metaverse, it is important to know more about the latest web generation – Web 3.0. Let’s see how it all started.
The beginning of the web was fundamentally different from what we know today. Websites were static and read-only, limiting the interactions of users.
Although this brought considerable progress in the speed of information exchange, another rapid advance was brought by the next version 2.0. This came with an increase of Internet connection speeds, and more users were given the ability to create content, chat, send photos, and the like.
Web 2.0 was mainly defined by three essential features: mobile, social and cloud.
The latest generation brings another feature: in Web 3.0 you will be able to own digital objects, for instance as implemented in the form of contemporary NFTs.
The basic pillars of Web 3.0 are the semantic web, ubiquity, 3D graphics and artificial intelligence. All of this will make it work in the metaverse.
In the metaverse, you can do whatever you want – relax, work, or play sports. It will be a space with the aim of connecting all companies and people together.
It will be possible to transfer anything you own in real life to the metaverse or move anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home using VR glasses or glasses with augmented reality. Such glasses will display the 3D world of the metaverse, but at the same time will not change the perception of the real world around you.
For example, imagine that you are an architect, and you cannot be on the other side of the planet during the physical construction of your project. All you have to do is connect to the metaverse and within a few seconds you can assist in planning or see a 3D model right in front of you. Or, how about furnishing a new apartment? By connecting to the metaverse via a VR headset or phone, you can easily choose any furniture from the online store for your apartment and see how the given piece of furniture will fit into your apartment before buying.
In augmented reality, you will be able to see anything you want, travel in time to another period, space, use various items, play games, and the appearance of your avatar will have no limits.
We already use access to the metaverse today, for example, via VR applications such as Victoria VR or MMORPG games in virtual reality based on the blockchain, e.g., Axie Infinity, Decentraland or Illuvium.
AR and VR
How do AR and VR differ from each other?
AR is augmented reality. Thanks to it, application users can experience reality enhanced with digital visualizations. Most of you are probably familiar with this technology thanks to the huge popularity of Pokémon GO. Of course, AR isn’t just for fun. For example, Apple is focusing on creating holograms that can be used during office meetings. With colleagues on the other side of the world, it will be possible to arrange a meeting with their holograms. Despite their virtual aspect, the meeting will feel more natural than when using a standard video call.
AR is a more accessible technology because it can be accessed via a tablet or smartphone. Special glasses are required to use VR. To enhance the experience, you will need special gloves, headphones, or even complete suits and various accessories equipped with sensors.
VR refers to virtual (i.e., parallel) reality. A technology that separates us from the real world and transports us into a computer-generated environment. VR glasses are already increasingly used in games, but as more accessories are developed, we will likely be able to physically interact with other users. This will be a huge technological leap. When VR allows us to shake someone’s hand in virtual reality (and both participants will feel it), staying in a new reality will be associated with new sensations for the human mind and the release of endorphins, which will affect our perception.
Artificial intelligence is part of more and more aspects of our lives. Each of us uses a smartphone where we can communicate with personal assistants – Siri or Google Assistant. If a package is lost, instead of calling the hotline, we can quickly communicate with a chatbot that will solve the problem for us. More and more car manufacturers offer a car assistant service, which makes it easier for us to find a route or check the weather. Artificial intelligence can be associated with humanoid machines that approach our world and the human species without emotion. In fact, the AI use increases the efficiency of people through machine learning and automation of the reasoning and analysis process.
The possible uses of artificial intelligence are practically limitless. This technology is used, among other things, in data processing, financial and resource management, supply chain planning, business strategies and facial recognition.
The use of AI also offers great opportunities for metaverse creators. They will become another sphere of life in which data processing will allow us to personalize the reality that surrounds us. Using machine learning, algorithms learn historical data (previous interactions, choices) to produce results that are more appropriate for the user. A new marketing branch focused on advertising in the metaverse is also likely to develop.
Artificial intelligence can also diversify the form of virtual reality. The technology makes it possible to generate different avatars, characters, or spatial elements. The AI can also create so-called NPCs – non-player characters. A quick explanation for those not interested in gaming: NPCs are independent characters who have a role in the game, but you cannot play as them. Artificial intelligence can give them a specific character, thanks to which they can conduct conversations in the background or even enter natural dialogues with the character we play, for example when we place an order in a virtual restaurant.
The metaverse expansion will create a huge demand for 3D reconstructions. An important challenge for parallel worlds creators will be to create the most realistic spaces possible. This applies both to three-dimensional copies of places that should look as natural as possible, and to business locations. It is likely that more and more manufacturing companies will decide to make copies of their factories to optimize the production process using 3D capabilities and the aforementioned artificial intelligence. Bentley Motors Limited has already used this solution.
The development of 3D technology is also a great opportunity for the real estate industry and tourism. An office located in the metaverse can offer clients a virtual tour of a house or hotel. Investing in real estate in other countries is becoming increasingly popular because of the potentially more attractive rate of return. Three-dimensional replicas of properties and cities will allow interested parties to think about a purchase without leaving their home.
Of course, the use of 3D does not only apply to sectors where the offered product is space. To increase their appeal, more and more companies will use 3D cameras and 4K photography to open natural-looking business spaces in the metaverse. A virtual store can become a great marketing tool that will attract many interested parties to a new shopping style.
Internet of Things
The base assumptions shaping the concept of IoT were introduced by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in 1999 during a presentation for Procter & Gamble. IoT is a network of interconnected objects that can directly or indirectly collect, process and exchange data in a computer network using sensors. The concept is widely used, among other things, in the design of smart cities and smart houses, or for instance in the context of various types of mobile and medical devices.
One use of IoTs in the metaverse is to collect and provide data from the physical world. Data collected by the device’s sensors may affect the operation of the metaverse. For example, when the weather changes in the real world, the appearance of the virtual world can also change. The gradual implementation of the Internet of Things will allow you to move freely between these two worlds. In the virtual space, we will be able to start the washing machine or print a real document.
There is huge money behind the market related to IoT technology. Analysts estimate that by 2030, the sector could be worth up to USD 3 trillion.
By using blockchain technology including smart contracts, businesses could operate cheaper, faster, and more securely in the metaverse. The data contained in the blockchain is much less susceptible to any kind of fraud.
The blockchain also contains the whole world of cryptocurrencies. These play a very important role in the metaverse, as they enable the monetization of many processes. Using digital currencies can facilitate quick money transfers between companies and users and accepting payments in them will increase the number of customers for that company. Opening stores this way will be very important in the metaverse, as many of the early adopters are the players who were brought to the virtual world by games like The Sandbox and Axie Infinity.
In the metaverse, we can also expect a further raise of the prominence of NFTs. Consider, for instance, virtual art galleries for artists who choose to record their work in this form, and the widespread use of NFT avatars. The value of non-fungible tokens as virtual property certificates will increase, even for games and digital space purchases.
The metaverse concept is still in its early development stages. However, we can expect significant progress in this area, given that well-known companies incl. Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia have started creating their virtual spaces.
The development of the market sectors that we talk about in this article unfortunately means the demise of some professions, which is inherent in our evolution. On the other hand, there is a lot of work in industries related to the technologies mentioned above. The ideal solution would be one in which education begins to keep pace with changes to the world.
The emergence of parallel worlds is also a huge security challenge. Various scammers may also be interested in the metaverse. Therefore, it will be especially important to properly secure our sensitive data.
When the above problems are solved and the technologies described in the article are allowed to develop freely and interact with each other, we will witness the creation of new worlds without borders.