Everything you need to know about the metaverse

The metaverse is a simulated digital environment that combines augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, and social media principles to create areas of rich user interaction that mirror the real world.

Consider Ready Player One, but more accessible and convenient. Consider social media today, but more integrated and immersive. The concept of the metaverse, which was recently popularized by the name change from Facebook to Meta, will change the way we interact with the world around us.

This has several consequences:

  • Users will now have the opportunity to inhabit an immersive reality in addition to the two-dimensional digital worlds.
  • On the horizon, developers and content designers (especially experts in 3D modeling and VR world building) should look forward to new opportunities.
  • The Metaverse creates a new economy in which wealth can be created, traded, and enhanced using a currency that is separate but linked to real world currencies.
  • The execution of the metaverse requires the development of new technologies. To replicate a real-world presence, for example, you’ll need a “digital self” or a person’s digital twin.
  • Data privacy, security, diversity and ethical behavior are all issues that exist in the physical world but can take on a new dimension in the virtual world.

As it invests heavily in the metaverse, how does Facebook intend to confront and act on these difficulties and opportunities?

The beginnings of the metaverse

While the name “metaverse” is unfamiliar to some, the notion has been around for almost three decades. In his 1992 novel Snow Crash, American science fiction author Neal Stephenson established the metaverse. Users use the Metaverse as an escape from a futuristic and mostly dismal environment in the novel (as in others of the genre).

The industry has laid the groundwork for a brick-by-brick non-fictional metaverse over the past 30 years. Virtual reality headsets have improved in terms of comfort and price. The penetration rate of the Internet in the world is constantly increasing. The rise in popularity of online games, which has often reached tournament levels, has enabled the creation of sophisticated digital avatars, transferable digital products and even digital real estate.

Decentraland received $ 25.5 million in funding and offers its clients a virtual reality environment builder, configurable avatars, an encrypted marketplace, digital wallets and a governance system. Facebook tries to create a comparable experience, but one that integrates non-AR / VR social networks. In September 2021, he announced his foray into AR / VR, as well as the creation of his own metaverse.

What exactly does “Metaverse” mean?

Here is an exercise to demonstrate how ambiguous and confusing the phrase “metaverse” can be: Replace the phrase “the metaverse” with “cyberspace” in a statement. The meaning will not change significantly 90% of the time. Because the phrase refers to a broad shift in the way we interact with technology rather than just one type of technology, it is. It is very possible that the name will become obsolete even if the technology that it originally defined becomes common.

The metaverse is made up of two technologies: virtual reality, which is distinguished by persistent virtual parameters that exist even when you’re not playing, and augmented reality, which combines characteristics of the digital and physical worlds.

However, that doesn’t mean these locations should only be accessible via VR or AR. Metaverse is a virtual environment accessible through PCs, game consoles, and even phones, such as Fortnite.

It also refers to a digital economy in which users can create, buy and sell things. Under the most utopian notions of the metaverse, it is also interoperable, allowing you to transport virtual objects like clothes or cars from one platform to another.

You can buy a shirt in the mall and then wear it to the movies in real life. Virtual identities, avatars, and inventories are already confined to a single platform on most platforms, but a metaverse can allow you to create a character that you can take with you anywhere as easily as copying your image. profile from one social network to another. .

It’s hard to understand what all of this entails since you might say, “Wait, doesn’t it already exist? When you hear descriptions like the ones above. The Warcraft environment, for example, is a persistent virtual environment where people can buy and sell items.

Rick Sanchez could learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. through virtual experiences like concerts and a Fortnite exhibit. You can enter your own virtual world by putting on an Oculus headset. Is this how we define the “metaverse”? Is it just a few new genres of video games?

Yes and no, in a nutshell. Referring to Fortnite as a “metaverse” is like calling Google “the Internet.” Even if you spend a lot of time chatting, shopping, studying, and playing games in Fortnite, that doesn’t mean you’ll learn everything there is to know about the Metaverse.

On the flip side, just as it’s true that Google produces pieces of the internet, from actual data centers to layers of security, it’s also true that Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is building pieces of the metaverse. It is not the only company that operates this way.

Nvidia, Unity, Roblox, and even Snap are among the companies that rely on the infrastructure that could become the metaverse.

At this point, most of the discussion about what the Metaverse entails ends. We have a hazy understanding of what currently exists in what we might call the metaverse, and we know which companies are investing in it, but we have no idea what it is.

Sorry, Meta, but Facebook thinks it will include mock residences where you can invite all of your friends to hang out. Microsoft seems to believe that virtual conference rooms can be used to train new employees or communicate with distant peers.

These futuristic perspectives have a wide range of propositions, from hope to pure fan fiction. During the… presentation of… Meta’s metaverse, the company portrayed a storyline in which a young woman is sitting on her sofa, scrolling Instagram, when she comes across a video recorded by a friend of a concert taking place in the other end of the world.

The film then moves on to the show, where the woman appears as an Avengers-style hologram.

In reality, this raises the most serious problem with “the metaverse”.

Why do holograms play a role in the metaverse?

When the Internet was first introduced, it came with a host of technological achievements, including the ability to connect computers over great distances and the ability to link one web page to another. These technical characteristics provided the basis for the abstract structures we now associate with the Internet, such as web pages, applications, social networks, and everything that depends on it. This is ignoring the convergence of non-Internet interface innovations such as screens, keyboards, mice, and touch screens, which are still required to make the Internet work.

With the Metaverse, new building blocks are in place, such as the ability to host hundreds of people in a single instance of a server (future versions of a Metaverse should be able to handle thousands, if not millions). and movement tracking. tools that can distinguish where a person’s hands are. These new technologies have the potential to be extremely intriguing and futuristic.

There are, however, some limitations that can be overwhelming. When companies like Microsoft and Fa — Meta present imaginary videos of future concepts, they frequently ignore how people will interact with the metaverse.

VR headsets are always bothersome and wearing them for long periods of time causes motion sickness or physical pain in most people.

Aside from the sizeable barrier of how to wear augmented reality glasses in public without looking like huge assholes, augmented reality glasses have another problem.

So how do IT companies demonstrate the concept of their technology without showing the reality of massive equipment and weird glasses? So far, it seems their main choice is to develop the technology from scratch. Is this the holographic woman who appeared during Meta’s speech? I’m sorry to break the news, but it’s just not possible, even with the most advanced versions of existing technology.

Unlike motion-tracked digital avatars, which are a little weird right now but could be better tomorrow, there’s no complicated way to make a three-dimensional image appear in the air without precisely regulated circumstances. Regardless of Iron Man’s claims. Maybe these are meant to be seen as images projected through glasses – after all, both women in the demo video are wearing glasses – but that does assume a lot about the physical capabilities of the small glasses, this that Snap can attest to to be a difficult challenge to solve. .

In the demo films of how the Metaverse can work, this kind of deception of reality is very common.

Is this person wearing VR glasses or is he just sitting at a desk? Is that person strapped to an immersive aerial platform or just sitting at a desk? Another of Meta’s demos showed individuals hovering in space: is that person strapped to an immersive aerial platform or just sitting at a desk? Is the subject of the hologram wearing a helmet and, if so, how is their face scanned? A person can take virtual objects but hold them in what appear to be their real hands at other times.

This demonstration raises many more questions than it answers.

At some levels this is acceptable. Microsoft, Meta, and all the other companies doing weird demos like this are looking to convey an artistic sense of what the future might look like, rather than tackling all the technological challenges.

It’s a long-standing tradition that dates back to AT&T’s display of a voice-activated foldable phone that could magically erase people from photos and create 3D models, which seemed impossible at the time.

However, this kind of wishful thinking as a technology puts us in a position where it’s difficult to predict what aspects of various visions of the Metaverse will one day come true.

The idea of ​​a virtual poker game where your friends are robots and holograms floating in space could become a reality if virtual reality and augmented reality headsets become comfortable and affordable enough for people to wear them around. daily – a big “if” – happens. Otherwise, you can still play Tabletop Simulator via Discord video conference.

When combined with the general pop culture idea of ​​holograms and heads-up displays (essentially everything Iron Man has used in his last ten films), these stories serve as a creative benchmark for what the metaverse – a metaverse that tech companies might actually sell as something new it might look like.

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