The metaverse is a virtual, shared space where all the luxuries the Internet has brought us are tightly connected and exist simultaneously. The term was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction book Snow Crash, a story in which humans in the form of avatars interact with each other in a 3D world.
The word “metaverse” is made up of the words “meta” (meaning beyond) and “universe”. It is used to describe the concept of a future version of the internet that is made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces that are interconnected and linked together to form a virtual universe.
The growth of the metaverse is being fueled by the rapid acceleration of 3D compute power and game technology along with new “immersive” methods of digital engagement such as AR and VR. Users are connected using the underlying fabric of the internet and become a part of an always on alternate universe that is made to be experienced live and that runs in real time.
Powered by fully functioning economies using crypto-currencies and digital tokens, and filled with digital assets that are both unique and can be owned by individuals such as NFT’s, its de-centralized nature will allow the experiences and content that make up the metaverse to be created by anyone – from individual users to huge corporations opening new doors for everyone.
Can we see it today ?
A large portion of the metaverse is already in existence on the Internet today, however pretty soon you will be able to put on your VR glasses and teleport around worlds that are almost indistinguishable in quality from the one we live in today. You will be able to take virtual city tours, view attractions, and go to places you dreamed of visiting. It’s a culmination of travel agent, information guide, and entertainment agent all in one.
If you watched Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film, Ready Player One, you have seen Hollywood’s interpretation. And when Fortnite hosts online events in real time, like concerts or the premiere of a Hollywood movie, you can see the metaverse growing around you.
Why does the Metaverse matter ?
In its full vision, the Metaverse will become the gateway to most digital experiences today, a key component of all physical ones, and the next big e-commerce platform. The value of being a participant in a system like this is self-evident, as while the internet has no single “owner”, the top 10 technology companies are the most valuable public companies on earth today and global e-commerce surpassed $3.5 trillion US dollars in 2019 alone.
The Metaverse will produce the same types of opportunities that we saw with the web, just in a much more diverse playing field and at a much larger scale. Online companies will have to rebuild their customer experiences to meet the needs of an immersive environment, and new products and services will be created in order to manage everything from payment processing and identity verification, to content creation, security and entertainment in a shared virtual world.
How will its economy work ?
The metaverse’s economy will not only consist of companies selling digital goods to users but will open up the door to true digital peer to peer transactions powered by decentralized digital currencies. It will usher back in the age of user-driven economies.
Crypto currencies allowed us to own unique digital assets and created an entirely new way of transacting online. The same technology has been brought to digital assets, and now we have NFT’s (Non Fungible Tokens) that allow us to own unique items in the digital world.
NFTs are “one-of-a-kind” assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but they have no tangible form of their own. The digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets and are opening the doors for people to own anything in the multiverse, from land to music, art and even experiences.
Why We Need the Metaverse ?
So why do we need the metaverse if it’s just a digital reflection of the physical world’s ? The real answer is that the physical world is just the basis for the metaverse. The metaverse will take us much further than the physical world could ever allow us to go by removing the limitations on everything from travel to experiences, to work and to play.
The metaverse will change the way we work, imagine operators controlling massive forklifts from their living room, fully immersed in an environment on the other side of the planet as if they are actually there. Or a scientist mining precious metals on a asteroid high in space through the eyes of a robot, doing things that human beings could never do.
Travel will change as the quality of the metaverse becomes indistinguishable from that of reality. Children will be able to attend virtual theme parks with their friends in real time, all from different corners of the globe. You will be able to explore cities, countries and even the universe in totally different ways.
Commerce will evolve as people become able to shop in a virtual malls with their friends, using their avatars to try clothes on according to accurate measurements already stored in her profiles – or they can test drive cars and experiment with equipment that can later on be delivered to them in the real world.
A world of endless possabilities
The Metaverse will change the way we live and interact on so many different levels, helping to take humanity to the next level. The possibilities are truly endless when you combine the power of immersive technology with the infinite nature of the internet and human imagination. So while it may seem like a reflection today, or a copy of the physical world, it is really a much more powerful version.