Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year journalism student
Imagine that you’re in your home, in the cozy comfort of your bed and you’re travelling around the world, meeting your friends, shopping, etc., all the while not even moving from your bed. Sounds bizarre, right?
This is exactly what the Metaverse is.
Expalin the metaverse to me
The metaverse is basically an online 3D universe that’s made up of different virtual spaces. It’s a virtual world, to put it simply.
It’s as simple as that – you wear virtual reality devices and you get into a virtual world where you can meet people, play games, work, shop – you name it.
Think of the metaverse as a parallel world, one that is built into the internet, a virtual world where users like you and I can own different things and create different identities (called avatars).
You want to buy something online. But, instead of, say logging on to a site and adding things to a cart to buy, you wear a VR (virtual reality) device and get into a virtual world where your avatar shops – from looking at a product to talking to the salesperson, etc. (and this salesperson is also real in the sense that it’s an avatar of a real person who is sitting somewhere has also entered this virtual space).
Now imagine another example. You want to go to Disneyland and go on some rides – you can do that sitting at home through the metaverse – your avatar can take these rides in a virtual theme park!
Who came up with this word?
In his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse,” in which he imagined realistic replicas meeting in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality scenarios.
Since then, a number of breakthroughs have served as big steps toward the creation of a true metaverse, an online virtual world that combines augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars, video, and other forms of communication. As the metaverse grows, it will provide you with a hyper-real alternate universe in which one would coexist.
When we hear tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella talk about it, it sounds quite possibly like the future of the internet.
What is the difference between the metaverse and the internet, then?
The word metaverse refers to a wide shift in how humans engage with technology rather than a single sort of technology.
Ok, and what are VR and AR? And what’s the difference?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a virtual (as in, computer-generated) environment where things seem to be real, making you feel that you are immersed in your surroundings. You “feel” or experience this environment through a device called a Virtual Reality headset.
Augmented reality or AR is the technology that helps us get information by showing us virtual objects on a device – so while in the VR world you will need to wear a device to become part of a fictional (not real) world, in AR the world is not so real.
Give me an example of AR
Ok, so imagine that you are walking on a street and you are looking for a particular place – say a café. You point your smartphone towards that street, and it gives you information about what all’s on the street – like an office, a restaurant etc.
So, VR and AR are two technologies that make up the metaverse. It does not, however, require that those areas be only accessible through VR or AR. A virtual environment that can be accessed through PCs, gaming consoles, and even phones, such as Fortnite, might be metaverse.
Who is building the metaverse?
Facebook, now called ‘Meta’, and Microsoft – to name two
- Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, is constructing elements of the metaverse.
- Facebook, which was recently renamed Meta to reflect this work.
- Many more firms are working on the infrastructure that might become the metaverse – including
- Roblox, and even
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the newly renamed Meta (previously Facebook), predicts that the metaverse’s primary capabilities will take five to ten years to become widespread.
Meta has previously made large virtual reality investments, including buying a company that makes VR headsets, named Oculus in 2014. The company envisions a virtual world in which digital avatars interact via virtual reality headsets. Zuckerberg believes that it has the potential to replace the internet as we know it.
Another major Big Tech company, Microsoft, is attempting to create a metaverse. Mesh is the name that they have given to the concept. “Holoportation,” as the business puts it, is one of its most interesting aspects. Simply put, users will be able to project holographic versions of themselves over to other users.
To understand the metaverse simply, let us look at it in another way. The internet as we know it today is two-dimensional, we scroll on our laptops and phones. The metaverse is three-dimensional. So you will quite literally walk through the internet wearing headsets and glasses.
But it does come with its own potential dangers
Researchers have discovered several possible hazards associated with the adoption of the metaverse. For one thing, addiction to VR/AR technology may cause users to become increasingly disconnected from reality.
Simply said, the 3D virtual environment has the potential to cause real-life sadness. People will spend more time in the metaverse and less time on real-world duties as a result of this.
As a result, virtual world addiction might pose a serious threat to future generations.
The metaverse’s biggest hurdles are cybersecurity issues. We cannot rule out the prospect of internet security breaches since the metaverse is a purely virtual community.
So, what is the future of the metaverse?
While many people are wary about a larger, more sophisticated version of Facebook’s popular social environment, the timeline is appropriate. Large-scale video game universes like Minecraft and Fortnight have prepped a generation of players for more immersive experiences.
The metaverse will, in fact, become as real and widespread as the internet. It’s only a question of time, as we can see. To put it another way, the metaverse is still being built brick by brick, and everyone will be a part of it.