Welcome To The Metaverse — Here’s What To Expect
The ideas of alternate, parallel, or multiple realities have been around for quite some time, some dating as far back as the Ancient Greeks’ concept of Atomism. Ideas like multiverse, and superposition were explored in the 19th and 20th centuries to postulate the potential for multiple realities existing at once.
“Metaverse” was a term officially coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, Snow Crash. But it’s more or less the 21st century’s online version of the alternate reality concept, with a few key exceptions.
Before we get any further, let’s clear the air. With Facebook’s transition to Meta and the popularity explosion in NFTs, you’ve probably been bombarded with Metaverse blogs and articles. Sorry (not sorry) to add to the fire :D
But that’s because companies like Apple, Nvidia, Epic, Microsoft, and many others are all racing to make digital reality a… well reality. Okay, so what all does that entail?
What does Metaverse actually mean?
Our broad definition for Metaverse is a virtual or digital platform designed for immersive experience(s). The concept is sort of open for interpretation since we don’t currently have a metaverse online. However, with the tech of today and the fictional imagination of the last century, we can easily dream up what a day in the metaverse could look like.
From the culture-shifting movie The Matrix, to the novel Ready Player One, or even Marvel’s ‘Danger Room’ simulator from the X-Men series, there’s no shortage of metaverse experiences to be found in fictional works. In each of these examples, the users are totally drawn into the metaverse reality around them. They can sense their surroundings and must respond to the environment as it responds to them. Pretty cool!
So how do we turn science fiction into actual science? Through lots of brilliant innovations, of course! We are already working on some pretty amazing tech:
- Virtual Reality — Can be defined as simulated/artificial environment(s) which are generated on or by a computer to create sensory stimuli. VR will play a significant role in the development of a metaverse as environments and settings will need to be carefully crafted for user enjoyment and large-scale usage.
- Augmented Reality — The interactive experience of a real-world environment in a computer-generated world. Usually includes multiple sensory inputs for touch, sight, sound, etc., and allows for interaction in a simulated reality.
- Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning — Computer technologies that intake info from an environment and then act on that data, similar to how human’s and other animals’ natural intelligence allows. Artificial intelligence could have several use cases in a metaverse from semantic natural language processing to data retrieval, environmental maintenance, and much more.
- **Blockchains used for digital economy purposes **— Decentralized, public ledgers that verify and record information, distributing the recorded data for transparency and immutability. NFT metaverses would be entirely possible whereby each object (pen, car, piece of land, concert ticket, etc) would be an NFT secured by a blockchain and therefore tradable in a frictionless economy. At Fayre, we’re working on long-term projects to make things like metaverse NFTs a real thing.
- Physical technologies like the Oculus headset help connect us to VR and AR, and may be our eyes of the future.
- **Cloud technologies **— These allow an entity to store all of its data, and easily retrieve it. Maintaining a metaverse with tens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of users at any given time requires massive amounts of data storage and retrieval. Cloud tech seems to be one of the quickest ways to store data, although blockchains are tough competition.
Before you know it, a full meta-life may be possible. Experiences like dating, going to a movie, exercising, and finer details like buying clothes, decorating a home, or making art, are all on the table. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to experience superhuman abilities, a-la X-Men? (One can only dream!)
How real is this thing gonna get?
Well, the success of the metaverse depends on quite a few things. For example, the end goals of building the metaverse aren’t super clear. What will barriers of entry be? How immersive is too immersive? Is privacy a feature on the metaverse?
All valid questions. In order to answer some of them, we might need other technologies that we don’t have today, like Web3. A Web3 metaverse would be more individual-focused, help provide further privacy, and could even open the metaverse to more people around the world.
Let’s also not forget some practical issues the metaverse needs to face. Motion sickness could be an issue when people are looking around inside a VR environment. Also, how will the metaverse scale to allow millions of people to participate at a time while maintaining full interactivity? Can we enter the metaverse without looking goofy in public?
How far out is the metaverse? Far out broooo!
Perhaps our X-Men training room dreams from earlier are too illustrious to consider for now. Honestly, the tech required to simulate grabbing and holding objects is pretty far away by itself, and we haven’t considered textured feelings, or even smells (smell-a-vision, anyone?). AI, and blockchains also have a ways to go, but ideas like an NFT metaverse are probably a good place to start.
Thanks to the many technologies we touched on above, we definitely have pieces of what could end up being the metaverse right now. But VR, AR, AI and all the other fun techy acronyms we know today are in their infancy. There’s no telling how powerful these technologies could become, though.
Thoughts that keep me up at night — “We might be in a metaverse right now, broooo!”
Jokes aside, perhaps the biggest roadblock is the question, “how much do people want to trade their real life for one that exists online?” Then again, maybe that’s not even a speedbump.