‘Metaverse’, a coinage that came into the fore from ‘meta’ which means beyond and ‘verse’ connoting a back formation from the word universe, appears to be a popular term recently as it seems to be everywhere. The popularity of the term was made to gain traction when popular social media site, Facebook announced that it was hiring thousand of Engineers in the European continent to work on it.
What is then the meaning of metaverse in both explicit and layman’s terms?
Metaverse typically describes the concept of a future iteration of the internet that consists of persistent, in cases shared 3D virtual spaces that are intertwined into a virtual universe.
It could be proffered as the internet rendered in 3D, with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg describing it as a virtual environment one can go inside of, instead of just viewing it from a screen. It connotes a world of non-ending, interconnected virtual communities that allows people to meet, work, trade, and even play together with the use of VR headsets, augmented reality glasses, Smartphone applications and other tech devices.
The term first gained world consciousness in Neal Stephenson’s fictional novel in 1992 titled Snow Crash.
Snow Crash is a science fiction novel that covers history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics and philosophy.
In the book classic, humans, replaced as avatars and software agents were able to interact with each other in a virtual space that replaced the real world.
Victoria Petrock, an emerging technologies analyst opined that the metaverse will incorporate other aspects of online life like shopping and social media.
In her words:
“It’s the next evolution of connectivity where all of those things start to come together in a seamless, doppelganger universe, so you’re living your virtual life the same way you’re living your physical life”.
The abstractness of the model to the layman was what Tuong Nguyen, an analyst who tracks immersive technologies for research firm Gartner, sought to posit when he said that “it’s hard to define a label to something that hasn’t been created”.
What are we expected to do in the Metaverse?
This would be the major question on the lips on the average person, and of course it is not out of place.
The metaverse allows you to be everywhere while locked with a computer device. You can be able to attend a virtual concert, take a trip to a far place online, initiate and make sales; you could even try on a cloth that fits your body with digital clothing.
Look at this scenario: Your body has look-alike messenger called an avatar, who is a virtual description of your facial and body look. The avatar representing you can walk into a physical store, make and initiate purchases on your behalf, even try out some few fabrics to see if they are your size while you watch as it performs those functions.
The adoption of the metaverse principle could be a game-changer for the work-from-home itinerary especially in cases of global pandemic like the Flu or COVID-19. Employees do not have to have their staffs come to work every day, they could perform those functions virtually with everyone seeing each other.
Facebook is of recent the major tech giant advocating for the adoption of the metaverse principle. TechBooky had reported recently that the company is considering a name change as part of its rebranding to help it focus on the development of the metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg had while speaking to The Verge said of the plan: “The metaverse is going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet. And I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.”
Is Facebook the only brand adopting the Metaverse model?
The answer to this would be a big NO.
Zuckerberg himself acknowledged that “no one company” will build the metaverse by itself.
Analyst, Nguyen corroborated that when he opined that because Facebook is making a big deal about it do not mean it or any tech giant for that matter will dominate the space.
“There are also a lot of startups that could be potential competitors,” he said. “There are new technologies and trends and applications that we’ve yet to discover.”
Video game companies like Epic Games and Roblox are also taking strategic roles in adopting the model, with Epic already raising $1 billion from investors to support its long-term move to build the metaverse. Roblox on its part outlined its vision for the model whence it described the metaverse as a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize”.
Not to be left out of the equation, consumer brands are also latching in to the concept, with Gucci, a renowned global fashion house in June aligned with Roblox to sell a collection of digital-only accessories.
Popular worldwide brands, Coca-Cola and Clinique have also sold digital tokens many see as a stepping stone to the general adoption of the metaverse model.
Venture capitalist, Steve Jang, a managing partner at Kindred Ventures who focuses on cryptocurrency technology had this to say while showing his excitement at the brewing concept.
“We want to be able to move around the internet with ease, but we also want to be able to move around the internet in a way we’re not tracked and monitored”.
While the metaverse concept is largely abstract to the majority of the world populace, with more companies joining the fray in the coming days, it would be clear and understandable as the model becomes full operation.