In recent months, you may have heard that ‘Metaverse’ is going to replace the internet. Social networking giant Facebook revamped its outlook completely by rebranding itself as ‘Meta’ on October 28. Earlier, the company has also made an announcement that it plans to invest 50 million dollars to build its metaverse, which it considers to be the future of the internet. The obvious question that can come to anyone’s mind is…
What is ‘metaverse’?
There’s no universally accepted definition of metaverse and it is tough to explain as – it doesn’t ‘really’ exist! But don’t worry, we’ll simplify it for you…
Let us break the term to understand it: Metaverse = Meta + Universe
The prefix ‘meta‘ comes from Greek and means beyond, after or across. So, metaverse connotes a place that is beyond the universe, one that exists in the virtual realm but feels just as real. In simple terms, Metaverse is an upgraded version of Virtual Reality (VR).
The metaverse is a concept from science fiction that many people in the technology industry envision as the successor to today’s internet. Facebook, describes metaverse as a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.
Refer to the above artist’s version of the metaverse from Linden Labs’ Project Sansar. Now imagine if you were in the shoes of one of those characters? That’s what metaverse is all about.
Is this a new term?
Not really! Neal Stephenson famously coined the term ‘metaverse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, where it referred to a 3D virtual world inhabited by avatars of real people. But the metaverse has gained momentum as a new buzzword during the ‘everything-online’ shift of the recent pandemic.
This whole idea is being hailed as the next step in the development of the internet along with creating new infrastructure and real-time 3D worlds. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has described his conception of the metaverse as an “internet that you’re inside of, rather than just looking at!”. For anyone who has watched The Matrix, it would be easier to comprehend this.
How far are we from the metaverse?
The truth is it’s still very much up in the air. As of now, the technology is in the research stage. Facebook claims that the metaverse won’t be built overnight by a single company and has promised to collaborate. The idea may take several years to fully materialize, but with the biggest names in the tech world in the race, we can expect some quick developments.
What is Facebook’s plan?
The CEO Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be known as more than just a social media platform. Facebook, which also owns the Oculus VR gaming platform, does not wish to be left behind in this race for Metaverse. As mentioned earlier, the company has already announced the plan to invest 50 million dollars to create a responsible metaverse. This act would be generating 10,000 new jobs as well.
What can you do in the metaverse?
Name almost anything, and it’s possible in the Metaverse. Facebook is planning something like taking you inside a virtual world where meetings could be held using virtual reality headsets, in a chosen avatar and background setting as it happens in the virtual reality games such as Fortnite OR virtual reality social media platforms such as VRChat OR virtual work environments such as Immersed.
However, the virtual world envisaged by Facebook is not just about gaming but it’s much more than that. Its inclusive and expansive in terms of providing facilities from office to entertainment. The tech giant aims to provide a virtual world where people can collaborate without having to be physically present in the same space. You will be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create, and more. In metaverse, land, buildings, avatars and even names can be bought and sold, often using cryptocurrency.
Metaverse is about making the time that you spend online more meaningful. It will merge the physical world with the ever-expanding virtual world that can completely change the way we use the information and how we solve problems. A world where users are able to immerse themselves in digital content rather than simply viewing it. However, keeping in mind the rising concerns regarding data privacy, the metaverse needs to be built ‘responsibly’.