This is in part because the metaverse is evolving and partly because many of the tools driving the metaverse are themselves made up of multiple technologies. The metaverse remains a domain of niche applications, used by consumers for entertainment and gaming but stopping well short of an all-encompassing virtual reality. “Metaverse” became a household word when Facebook rebranded its corporate identity to Meta in October 2021 and announced plans to invest at least $10 billion in the concept that year. In addition to Meta, tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Nvidia and Qualcomm are also investing billions of dollars in the concept.
What are enterprise leaders to make of a fast-evolving, hyped-up concept that could fundamentally change how humans live? TechTarget’s in-depth guide to the metaverse breaks down where this nascent technology revolution stands today and where it is headed. Topics include the technologies and platforms that support the metaverse, its benefits and challenges, how to invest in it, its history, why the metaverse is important and its impact on the future of work. This kind of wishful-thinking-as-tech-demo leaves us in a place where it’s hard to pinpoint which aspects of the various visions of the metaverse will actually be real one day. If VR and AR headsets become comfortable and cheap enough for people to wear on a daily basis—a substantial “if”—then perhaps a virtual poker game with your friends as robots and holograms and floating in space could be somewhat close to reality.
What is the metaverse? An explanation and in-depth guide
On Tuesday Facebook parent Meta announced that it will lay off another 10,000 employees. The move is part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s so-called “Year of Efficiency” during which the company is cutting back on spending amid falling digital advertising revenue and rising interest rates. Mission-critical sectors such as defense and public safety can use the industrial metaverse for training, crisis planning and remotely controlling assets in the field. For example, the metaverse makes it possible to train for emergency what-if scenarios and dangerous incidents that could never truly be simulated in the real world safely, such as cyberattacks, natural disasters or a hazardous waste spill in a factory. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation.
The first novel was released in 2011, with a 2018 film adaptation, and second novel in 2020. The franchise depicts the year 2045 as being gripped by an energy crisis and global warming, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. The primary escape for people is a shared VR landscape called “the OASIS” which is accessed with a VR headset and wired gloves. The OASIS functions both as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and as a virtual society.
It’s still early, but the metaverse is already attracting the attention of businesses and investors, both of whom are looking for the best ways to profit from this long-term growth opportunity. The term “Metaverse” is quite vague, so it’s no surprise that it has been confused with other technologies, including Web3. First coined back in the early 1990s in Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel “Snow Crash”, it has taken years for the concept itself to somewhat approach reality. Updates, feature additions or removals, interface modifications, policy changes, and other platform alterations can be subject to governance voting, giving all users the opportunity to play a role in the platforms they love. You could purchase and invest in cryptocurrency, you could invest in companies working on areas of the metaverse, like Meta and Niantic, or invest in an exchange-traded fund that focuses on gaming and technology companies.
That said, it’s difficult to imagine that any of these user-hungry companies would be willing to share or part with their users, let alone pool resources and communities. And the need for interconnectivity certainly hasn’t stopped any one company from touting itself as the leader in the next generation of the internet with their branded technologies, applications, and tools. Constant technological improvements—for instance, in computing power and large-data processes such as graphics rendering—allow ever-larger virtual worlds to exist. As discussed, the rapid adoption of 5G is enabling people to access these worlds via their mobile devices more easily. Finally, production costs of AR and VR hardware are declining, and new devices such as haptic gloves and bodysuits are increasingly coming on to the market. That generally refers to situations that combine elements of both AR and VR.
Abdulsattar Jaber, a professor at Iraq’s Middle Technical University, found that the new technology used by the metaverse may cause many problems related to the security and privacy of system users. Gartner, for example, prefers to describe metaverse technologies in terms of “tech themes.” The themes include spatial computing, digital humans, shared experiences, gaming and tokenized assets. Forrester Research characterizes metaverse tools as “enablers of 3D development environments.” Professionals skilled in 3D modeling and IoT for developing digital twins are among the talent companies will need to recruit for.
She as a specific interest in Samsung, and so has chosen to focus on Android in her position at MUO. She has written pieces for IMNOTABARISTA, Tourmeric and Vocal in the past, including one of her favourite pieces on remaining positive and strong through trying times, which can be found at the link above. Outside of her working life, Katie loves growing plants, cooking, and practicing yoga. This decentralized platform allows those who hold UNI tokens (the platform’s native currency) to take part in the governance voting process.
For simplicity’s sake, think of a metaverse as the next iteration of the internet, which started as individual bulletin boards and independent online destinations. Eventually these destinations became sites on a virtual shared space — similar to how a metaverse will develop. Unity’s easy-to-use tools and wide range of plug-in integrations make it a popular choice for metaverse developers. The software-building tools can even set up advertising and payment services — both around your virtual world to help you promote and monetize whatever you’re making and within the digital space, where you make money from your users.
What is the metaverse used for today?
Epic Games’ vision of the metaverse differs from Meta’s in that it wants to provide a communal space for users to interact with each other and brands — without a news feed riddled with ads. “From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first,” wrote CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his October 2021 announcement of the branding change. That’s an important change because it means users eventually won’t need a Facebook account to use other services in the metaverse. Among other non-Facebook products, Meta has already sold millions of its Meta Quest — formerly Oculus — VR headset units for navigating the metaverse.
Virtual productivity platforms are growing too, with Facebook and Microsoft announcing new ways to collaborate online. Hybrid offices, video-based education and online social communities are just a few of the ways in which more of our lives—for better or worse—is spent in digital spaces. Metaverse development may magnify the social impacts of online echo chambers and digitally alienating spaces or abuse common social media engagement strategies to manipulate users with biased content. Keza MacDonald of The Guardian criticized the utopianism of technology companies who claim that a metaverse could be a reprieve from worker exploitation, prejudice, and discrimination.
Nevertheless, metaverse technologies promise the next level of interaction in the virtual and physical worlds, providing innovative new opportunities and business models. In fact, Gartner expects that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in a metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment. But Zuckerberg and his team are hardly the only tech visionaries with ideas on how the metaverse, which will employ a mix of virtual reality and other technologies, should take shape. For example, Epic has acquired a number of companies that help create or distribute digital assets, in part to bolster its powerful Unreal Engine 5 platform.
For her article on metaverse pros and cons, technology journalist Mary K. Pratt interviewed analysts, consultants, business executives and researchers on the metaverse’s potential benefits and drawbacks. On the positive side, an immersive metaverse enables humans to go where they were never able to go before, including outer space. Of course, the bad behavior witnessed on social platforms has the potential to be magnified in a virtual world. Metaverse Group bills itself as the world’s first virtual real estate company. It acts as an agent to facilitate the purchase or rental of property or land in several metaverse virtual worlds, including Decentraland, Sandbox, Somnium and Upland.
But to a certain extent, the tech industry writ large depends on futurism. Selling a phone is fine, but selling the future is more profitable. In reality, it may be the case that any real “metaverse” would be little more than some cool VR games and digital avatars in Zoom calls, but mostly just something we still think of as the internet.
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And the fact that the digital world is a business environment has brought metaverse into economic discussions as well. In his video, Zuckerberg says that “meta comes from the Greek word for beyond,” and that’s basically correct. Etymologically, meta meant “after” in Greek, so metaverse also neatly implies a world or conception that requires the “real” world in order to move beyond it and acknowledge another realm.
“NFTs and blockchain lay the groundwork for digital ownership,” said Nick Donarski, co-founder of Ore System, an online community of gamers, content creators and game developers. “Ownership of one’s real-world identity will carry over to the metaverse, and NFTs will be this vehicle.” The internet is a network of billions of computers, millions of servers and other electronic devices. Once online, internet users can communicate with each other, view and interact with websites, and buy and sell goods and services. It adds digital overlays on top of the real world via a lens of some type. Google Glass and heads-up displays in car windshields are well-known consumer AR products.
Physical-to-virtual transactions are also being explored; toy company L.O.L Surprise! Developed card packets with QR codes that can be scanned to unlock NFTs and virtual experiences. Users of the metaverse access it through personal terminals that project a high-quality virtual reality display onto goggles worn by the user, or from grainy black and white public terminals in booths. Stephenson describes a sub-culture of people choosing to remain continuously connected to the metaverse; they are given the sobriquet “gargoyles” due to their grotesque appearance. Technically, a metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality.
Meta, for example, has already invested heavily in AR and VR, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets, while AR glasses and wristband technologies are in the works. The metaverse is a shared virtual environment that people access via the Internet. Full BioJean Folger has 15+ years of experience as a financial writer covering real estate, investing, active trading, the economy, and retirement planning. She is the co-founder of PowerZone Trading, a company that has provided programming, consulting, and strategy development services to active traders and investors since 2004. Q.ai. Q.ai offers advanced investment strategies that combine human ingenuity with AI technology. Our investment strategies, which we call “Investment Kits,” help investors manage risk and maximize returns by utilizing AI to identify trends and predict changes in the market.
In September 2021, the company announced a $50 million investment in global research and program partners to ensure that metaverse technology would be developed responsibly. But for now, as an investor, the key to profiting off the metaverse isn’t futuristic promises of connection and collaboration. In fact, investing in metaverse companies for the metaverse may still prove a questionable decision at this stage, as it’s likely that many companies will rise and fall to bring such an expansive collective vision to fruition. That said, each company has thus far approached the metaverse with slightly different ambitions, often based on their current business plan and specialties. And with Street View and Google Earth, made possible by Google’s traveling camera cars, you can virtually “visit” nearly any place in the world to look around, go on scavenger hunts, and see how others live.
With mixed reality, you can use elements of the real world to interact with a virtual environment. To borrow an example from gaming, if you were playing a mixed-reality game with a headset, you could in theory pick up an item from your desk or coffee table and incorporate it into the game. Virtual reality , on the other hand, doesn’t include a physical-world component (besides the handset or other equipment such as a helmet or sensor-laden gloves). In VR, users enter a computer-generated simulation but can interact with it in a way that seems real.