People have been wondering about metaverse, the latest easily dismissed buzzword or a new platform you might have to understand.
The biggest tech companies are pouring a lot of money into this next iteration of the internet, the Metaverse. However, building blocks of the metaverse are available on the market.
The metaverse is a vision for a modern place to interact with other humans and bots to play games, shop, socialize and conduct business, that’s the metaverse of the future. But for now, it is a grab bag of hardware, software and unrelated experiences
Components you can experience right now
Probably you have seen one piece of the metaverse in a standalone form, as a game or maybe a training session. Yet, to bring all these components together there is no connective tissue.
If you have ever played a virtual game such as Pokemon Go and caught a creature that you can only see through your phone, that’s augmented reality which is actually location-based entertainment.
Also, Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms are an example of mixed reality. A Horizon Workroom can hold 16 people in the virtual space and 34 more people can join via video conference.
While using the Oculus Quest 2, which is a virtual reality headset to join a virtual office space, you can also see your hands and your keyboard.
Moreover, those colleagues not joining the meeting via a VR headset can join via a video feed that appears in the virtual world just as it would in a live conference room.
With the virtual office platform Virbela, one can steer an office in the cloud with a full-body avatar through their keyboard.
Interestingly, the platform employs directional sound, which means that a person’s voice gets altered as he or she moves closer to your avatar or farther away. However, the experience is not relatively like a video game but it surely feels like a new space for interacting with colleagues.
The games such as Animal Crossing or Fortnite, those online worlds give a hint of what the metaverse could look like. These games are able to build your own world or visit someone else’s in your true-to-life form or in a completely new shape.
Who is using this platform and for what purpose?
Companies and military trainers are using virtual reality and augmented reality for training purposes.
Penske Truck Leasing uses the XR Mentor training platform to train technicians and assist them in the field.
Instructors live stream classes to students, and students can use assisted reality devices to refer to training documents when working on vehicles.
It is feasible to purchase real estate in virtual worlds, such as Decentraland and Cryptovoxels, which seeks to incentivize a global network of users to operate a shared virtual world although those are the world of early adopters. If you have made it as far as buying cryptocurrency or NFTs, you have also got a taste of the metaverse.
The variation between these experiences and the full-on metaverse is the physical sensation of being in another location and sharing it with other people.
For most of these experiences, you are interacting with the online world through a controller or other piece of hardware. Although virtual reality worlds are immersive, the headsets are still awkward, which presently defines the entire experience as something out of the ordinary.
Which companies are building the metaverse?
Director of strategy for Schneider Electric, Adam Compton assumes the metaverse as a fully immersive, partially real life, partially digital experience that runs in parallel with the physical world, he says, “It’s something that we don’t recognize when we’re stepping in and out of the two spaces.”
Mark Zuckerberg, who is co-founder of Meta Platforms and other tech leaders imagine a very distinct metaverse when they talk about it.
The metaverse currently under development would be right next to reality and always on. It would have its own currency and objects in the metaverse would be interoperable. For example, you could wear a hoodie bought in one corner of the metaverse in every other spot you visit.
World leaders and individuals are starting to recognize the downside of one company running a giant social experiment, such as Facebook. It’s easy to imagine the prejudices that are built into algorithms showing up in the metaverse as well.
Figuring out ethics for Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a good training ground for making sure that the metaverse is equally available to everyone and that there’s no automatic liability for a thin bank account or a slow internet connection.