What exactly is the metaverse?The metaverse was featured all the way back in the 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” by Neal Stephenson. It also appeared in the novel and Steven Spielberg’s movie “Ready Player One” set in 2045. Aside from Hollywood, no tech leader has entwined the metaverse so closely with its corporate branding as Mark Zuckerberg and Meta. In July 2021, Zuckerberg hinted at the change on Facebook. Today Zuckerberg says the metaverse is the successor to the mobile web. Many marketers also refer to the metaverse as the “Web 3.0”. It’s a world of shared virtual experiences that can happen at home, on the go, and wherever you are with a connected device.
What is the metaverse used for?The metaverse is used as a single digital world where users can play, shop, learn and work. Therefore, the metaverse is used as a digital space where we can do all the activities we do in the physical world, without certain obstacles. In other words, the metaverse is used to interact with friends and family, work, travel digitally, shop, sell, learn, and more within said digital space. Some features the metaverse currently includes, and may consist of in the future, are:
- Virtual reality (VR), a simulated experience that’s created using computer technology
- Augmented reality (AR), which is bringing computer elements into a user’s view of the real world
- Virtual worlds, such as in-video game experiences like concerts by music superstars or all-virtual conferences and shopping events
- Digital economies, web-based landscapes facilitating the creation of, purchasing of, and selling of goods
- Digital personas and virtual identities, like those that are currently created and used across gaming platforms
What metaverse statistics should I know about?With the rapid growth of the metaverse, it’s important to be informed of the current metaverse landscape:
- According to eMarketer, 58.9 million people (17.7% of the U.S. population) are expected to have used VR at least once per month in 2021
- 93.3 million people (28.1% of the U.S. population) are expected to have used AR at least once per month in 2021
- According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a record number of people playing video games in the U.S. in 2021. The ESA reports that 67% of American adults and 76% of kids are gamers.
- VR headset unit sales are expected to grow from 4.93 million in 2020 to 1.43 billion in 2024.
- Current teleconference capabilities enable hundreds of participants to join a single meeting
What’s the difference between the metaverse and virtual reality?Sometimes conflated, the metaverse and virtual reality are distinct. VR (virtual reality) is a technology used for creating 3D virtual environments, targeted to specific functionalities. The metaverse is a digital space, whereas VR is a technology. The metaverse may include VR within its technologies to create said digital space, but VR isn’t always a part of the metaverse as this technology can be used for different objectives. Learn more about the difference between the metaverse and the multiverse here.
What will the metaverse look like?We’d be smart to remember that despite the mass media attention it received, the metaverse is still in its early days of development. As more blue-chip companies are working on their version of the metaverse, users will be able to decipher which worlds are worth it, and which are not.
What companies are involved in the metaverse?Many well-established companies and startups are planting their roots in the metaverse, including Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Epic Games, Nvidia, Disney, Niantic, and Meta –just to name a few… Experts forecast that virtual reality, a $30 billion market in 2021, will more than triple to $300 billion by 2024. How do you choose which metaverse platform to use? Here are the top platforms for 2022. here.
What are the potential dangers of the metaverse?With the development of the metaverse, we begin to see some potential dangers that we must be aware of, these include:
- Cybercrime: being a new concept, the metaverse is more vulnerable to cybercrime than other digital spaces that have already begun to incorporate cybersecurity into their technology.
- Harassment and bullying issues: as with any other digital platform, the metaverse will need to find a way to regulate and moderate harassment and bullying.
- Data breach issues: such as with cybercrime, being a new concept, the metaverse will be more vulnerable to data breach issues until the correct policies are in place.
- Simulated reality addiction issues: it’s very common for users to become addicted to digital platforms, therefore, we can expect the same to occur with the metaverse.
- Mental health issues: these issues are common on digital platforms as well as in the physical world.
- Negative impact on cultures: spending time in a digital world created by a small group of people may have a negative impact on cultures as people may stop being connected to them in the physical world, and they will not exist as they do now in the digital world.
- Lost connection with the physical world
- Privacy and security problems: any tech product will need to implement privacy and security policies especially when there is so much data and sensitive information that may get hacked or breached.
- Lack of moderation: like any other platform, the metaverse will need many moderators for this content.
- Connection and hardware issues: as the metaverse is a digital product, there may be connection and hardware issues as many people will be accessing it at the same time, as well as due to the high technology that it will need to be run.
- Environmental impact: unfortunately, due to all the electricity needed for such a product, the metaverse will consume a lot of energy.
- Company monopoly: due to all the blue-chip companies setting the base for the metaverse, we may experience a company monopoly in this digital world which will come with negative consequences.
Is the metaverse good for humanity?Similar to any other technology, the metaverse can be good for humanity when used correctly. Here are some ways the metaverse is already being used for good:
- Creating new social opportunities by eliminating certain obstacles we have in the physical world.
- Creating new professional opportunities also by eliminating certain obstacles we have in the physical world.
- Helping overcome obstacles or disabilities with new technology.
- Creating more educational opportunities by eliminating certain socio-economical obstacles.
- Reducing commute or travel time by offering this digital space via VR technology, accessible at any location as long as the user has an internet connection.
- Increasing technological literacy by offering this digital space to people of all ages and backgrounds.
- Creating flexibility with online education and work thanks to the new technology used to create the metaverse.