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The Metaverse

The next generation internet?

What is the metaverse?

- 4 minute read

The metaverse is coming. At some point in the future, nobody is sure when and to a large extent sure how, but it’s coming and it will change our world. The concept is said to be what a smartphone of today is to the bricks that were the first mobile phones back in the 80’s, a world apart.

The metaverse isn't a thing with a release date that will suddenly appear on a certain day. It's not even a technology that's clearly defined. So how can we be so sure that something that isn’t even yet a thing, will be so revolutionary?

The metaverse in its simplest form an idea of what the next evolution of the web will be and it promises to be far more immersive. The metaverse will be a digital world where we work, play and communicate without being tied to computers, tablets or phones. It has the potential to bring new social, creative and economic opportunities alongside new jobs for developers and engineers. Hype about digital worlds surfaces from time to time but usually dies away, this time however it’s different. Facebook, a huge proponent of the metaverse, has recently announced it’s hiring 10,000 developers in the EU to develop it. Dedicating that much resource underscores it’s commitment and it has a serious vision for the future.

Unlike many of the platforms of today, the metaverse will not be owned by any one company, agency or country. Like the internet we know and love it will be distributed and Facebook itself has promised to collaborate. Of course Facebook promises come and go, but it would make sense if they do collaborate, after all the bigger, more immersive the metaverse, the more scope they have to integrate their services and our data into our daily lives.

Some games are moving closer to a metaverse idea, think Roblox, a platform for thousands of individual gamers connected to a larger ecosystem. Online multiplayer games that use shared interactive worlds have been around for a long time, and while these are not the metaverse, they share some common ideas. Fortnite hosts concerts, brand events and more inside its own digital world, events that have pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible.

The metaverse is not all about next-gen games and it will be far more than an evolution in VR. It will be a virtual world blended with the real world in a truly useful way. Think wearable glasses that show you real time best routes as you drive or ride to work. Hook up an avatar and be present in meetings anywhere in the world, whether for work or pleasure. Take a car for an immersive test drive or try on new clothes using your real world body shape, then order them to be delivered to your door.

Tracking ownership digital goods in the metaverse will help to create to a whole new virtual economy. We’ve already seen potential in this area this with NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which have exploded into the public conscience in recent times. An NFT is simply a unique token than can be used to represent ownership of an item, be that a work of art or real estate.

Whatever form the metaverse eventually takes it is going to to need better connectivity than we have now. Ubiquitous and reliable at minimum and at a price point that data usage and plans become irrelevant. 5G may well be able to provide some of the connectivity answers, but for now the metaverse is at an early stage and it will likely be the tech giants that are the primary forces behind the early evolution. Expect it to be another decade before we see a true metaverse, but there will be a lot of excitement along the way.

The metaverse is coming and we’re excited.


Update: 29th October 2021

Today Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in a move designed to better reflect the future vision of the company, in short, the metaverse. While existing brands such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp remain, the Oculus name has been retired in favour of Meta. Expect to see the Oculus Quest headsets rebranded to Meta Quest in early 2022.

 


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