We will try to explain to you exactly what the Metaverse is, this concept of a virtual world that Facebook, Google, Nvidia, and Microsoft are so keen on that Facebook has changed the name of its company to Meta. The concept is not new, and we have already flirted with it in literature and in movies like Ready Player One or The Surrogates.
We will try to explain it as simply as possible so that no one gets lost in technical details and everyone gets a rough idea of what it is all about. We will also try to show you some of the possibilities it offers and give you an idea of what is still missing and what is needed to make this concept a reality.
What is the Metaverse
The Metaverse is a virtual world, one to which we will connect using a series of devices that will make us think that we are really inside it, interacting with all its elements. It will be like actually teleporting to a whole new world through virtual reality glasses and other accessories that will allow us to interact with it.
Virtual worlds are nothing new, and there are a large number of them, especially in the video game industry. You create a character or avatar and enter that world to live adventures through your computer. However, the metaverse is not intended to be a fantasy world, but a kind of alternate reality in which we can do the same things we do today outside the home, but without leaving the room.
The term metaverse comes from a 1992 novel called ‘Snow Crash’ and is a term that has become established to describe visions of three-dimensional or virtual workspaces. This metaverse, therefore, means a virtual world in which we can interact, and which has been created to resemble an external reality.
As for the precise concept of metaverse that Facebook and other companies are betting on. The idea would be to create a parallel, completely virtual universe that we can access with virtual reality and augmented reality devices so that we can interact with each other within it. From the outside, with the content we have inside.
The key to this metaverse is that it can be fully immersive, or at least much more so than current virtual reality. Yes, we will have glasses that are possibly similar to current ones to immerse us in it, but also sensors that record our physical movements so that our avatar inside this metaverse does exactly the same.
It is even possible that the devices we wear will be able to interpret our facial expressions so that our avatar in the metaverse can recreate us, and so that the other people we are interacting with can understand how we feel. In other words, body language could also be part of these virtual interactions.
Another of the main ideas of the metaverse is that we have complete freedom of creation, both to make our avatar similar to our physical person and give it a different appearance, and to create the environment and our businesses and rooms to our liking.
Think about what the Internet is like now. It is full of virtual communities, social networks that we access from different devices. We interact with practically more people than we do physically. So the metaverse would be a step closer to bringing the physical and virtual worlds together, blending both into a new universe managed by the company that can impose its metaverse.
What the Metaverse can offer
The metaverse can offer us the next great evolutionary leap on the Internet… or come to nothing because it fails. It’s still very early days, and companies like Facebook are just beginning to create the infrastructure and the first concepts that will lead to a future where there are devices capable of taking us there. It is therefore more of a concept, a blank canvas, rather than a reality that we can connect to today.
In its vision, Facebook hopes that the metaverse can offer as many opportunities as the real physical world, with the possibility of creating our own businesses in it. Imagine being able to walk down the streets of the city of Xataka, and being able to converse with virtual avatars of other people, who have opened stores and offer us the opportunity to try on and buy virtual clothes, a virtual car, or a virtual apartment.
It can also have practical applications, such as business meetings where everyone shares a virtual office connecting from home, and you don’t even have to worry about getting ready for the meeting. Whether you are in your pajamas or disheveled, what other people will see is your avatar, your virtual persona.
A metaverse could also have its own economy, with some kind of virtual currency that we can buy with our real money, or earn in some way within the interactions it offers. Perhaps jobs could even be created. “What does your nephew do for a living? He is the manager of a virtual store in the metaverse.
And finally, looking for something closer and more human will also allow us to interact with people who are physically distant in a more realistic way, looking at our virtual eyes and our gestures reproduced by the sensors in the virtual reality helmet we wear. We will be able to talk to each other, we will be able to walk through virtual worlds, and it won’t matter where we connect from. We will even be able to express ourselves as we really feel we are, and not as we physically are.
Of course, Facebook’s hope is that the metaverse that prevails will be theirs because other companies will almost certainly propose others. Then they will be the ones controlling and profiting from everything, the economy, and all the businesses that take place within it.
It is also to be expected that the metaverse will be full of micropayments. For example, paying to change our avatar’s clothes the same way we pay for our clothes. And seriousness, maybe paying to be able to perform certain intimate actions with other people, to be able to use certain materials when creating something within the metaverse, and I don’t know. Paying for more things than we pay for today.
Anyway, these are assumptions. Right now, the metaverse is a concept, an idea, and a blank canvas. It will have many possibilities, but it will all depend on the will to create it, how it is created, and how accessible it is to everyone. Because that is another key, that we can all enjoy it.
When will the metaverse become a reality?
Currently, the metaverse is just a concept that is beginning to be built. The company Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has put forward the idea and announced heavy investments to make it real. But it remains to be seen whether other companies will join the effort to create the technologies that will make it possible.
Because we don’t yet have the technologies that can make the concept real. We don’t have virtual reality devices that can make us actually move as if we were inside that universe in a realistic way. We also lack all the infrastructure in terms of design. It’s a universe we want to create, but it doesn’t have regions, streets or anything yet, just some virtual rooms that are being used for the first tests.
Over the next few years, we will see how new devices that seek to connect us to this new virtual reality will be released. The idea is that in the future they will be very complete and affordable, but until that is real, they will probably still not allow great interactions and will be quite expensive.
So we are still a long way from being able to connect us all to a metaverse that we can interact in. We need to develop that virtual universe, and we also need to develop the technology that will allow us to connect to it. We also need to make the technology, when it exists, accessible to everyone.
However, in the next few years, you will probably hear and read often about this metaverse, as we can expect to see several companies starting to develop everything we need to connect to it. It is an interesting concept and full of business possibilities for companies, so we will gradually see how it takes shape.