“Metaverse” was just another sci-fi word until 28th October 2021 – The day when Facebook changed its name “Meta” and Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s Vision of building Metaverse. And suddenly, Metaverse took over the tech world like wildfire.
Metaverse is supposed to be the next big thing on the internet, probably bigger than social media and beyond just the internet. Metaverse would be a new virtual world that people can experience and live in with technologies like virtual reality, immersive display gears, blockchain and motion sensors. There are already some close Metaverse Examples, which gives us a peek into the future.
However, no proper explanation of the Metaverse is available on the internet, and one of the reasons is that no one knows how big and inclusive the Metaverse will be once it is fully developed.
Metaverse is a concept that has existed for three decades, long ago Facebook was even born. There are many games, movies, and novels that are close to explaining the concept of Metaverse.
This article aims to explain the Metaverse meaning in layman’s language. We will connect every existing technology and real-life examples that Metaverse could include.
What is Metaverse Meaning?
Metaverse is a shared virtual 3D world where anyone can connect and socialize with other people connected to the Metaverse. Metaverse could be described as a digital world that is built on the cloud where billions of people will connect through the integration of internet, VR, Blockchain, and other technologies.
Imagine a world beyond our reality. You wear a head-mounted display gear on your eyes and leave the current world for a new virtual one, which has thousands and millions of interconnected people including your friends. You can talk with them, go to a movie or concert, climb a mountain, buy a house, play games, and more.
Sounds like a GTA game, isn’t it? No, Metaverse is not a game, however, gaming could be a small part of Metaverse. Just like gaming, Metaverse is a digital world that you can enter and exit anytime you want. The only difference is, Metaverse is not just for entertainment purposes, it has far more potential than that.
This is just a very basic explanation of what Metaverse really could be. There are multiple other technologies that you need to understand like AR, VR, NFT, HoloLens, etc. to understand the true potential of Metaverse.
Let’s look into why Metaverse is a “Big Deal” and see its true potential.
Why Is Metaverse Important?
Metaverse is not just another program on the Internet, it is considered to be the next version of the internet itself. Here are some reasons that make “Metaverse” the next big thing on the Internet.
More than just Information
Currently, the internet provides you with all data and information you need, it fails to give you an experience. Metaverse is supposed to provide you with an experience that you can observe and feel real.
For example, you can learn everything about the surface of the moon on the internet and even see some 2D photos and videos of what the sun and earth look like from the surface of the moon. But you can’t experience a moon landing on your browser.
However, Metaverse could give you a real-time virtual experience of landing on the moon with a 360-degree view of the moon’s surface.
The Sense of Presence
Metaverse in very few words could be explained as “The sense of being present in the virtual world.” Metaverse will make meetings, conferences, collaboration, and learning much more interactive with a sense of presence. The facial expressions and body language would be much better than texting or video call today.
Unlimited Business Opportunities
Metaverse will definitely take the business beyond just e-commerce and advertisement. Creating, buying, selling, and owning digital assets would be the new trend.
Businesses like Nike are already into creating digital shoes to be sold on their virtual showroom in Metaverse. From owning and leasing real estate in the virtual universe to charging people for any virtual experience, Metaverse will create a virtual economy that will share its part with the real world.
Beyond the Boundaries
Metaverse would be a place for dreamers. Creators can build and share their imagination with everyone. Metaverse is not supposed to be a purpose build platform for particular need but would a place where ideas could be executed.
Wonder why people will go to the Metaverse, if it doesn’t serve a particular purpose?
Google “Most Popular Game” and the first answer that you will see is Minecraft, even though it’s not a game at all. It has no set target, winners, losers, timing, boundaries, guidelines, or rules. Users can shape their imagination with their friends and build something incredible with an immersive experience.
To get into the depth of Metaverse, you need to learn how this word originated and why it has been so popular.
History of Metaverse
Before Metaverse was a Concept, it was a plot for a sci-fi book. The term was first used in the science fiction book “Snow Crash” written by Neal Stephenson.
He used this term to describe Virtual real estate owned by a company, which builds and sells properties to the participants. Users accessed the virtual world through advanced Goggles, and other controlling gears to see the new digital world from first-person perspective.
Rise of Metaverse
Neal Stephenson coined the term and explained the plot of Metaverse as science fiction. However, this science fiction was brought into reality by a new Online Platform “Second Life”. It was probably the first time, when people could enter, live, and interact in real time in a virtual world.
Developed as a game like GTA Vice City, it allowed users to access the digital world through their computers. However, the platform was not a game as it had no target, enemies, or motive.
This online platform could be termed pre-Metaverse and would be used to visualize the true essence of the Modern Metaverse concept. More than 1 million people regularly participated in the online platform of Second Life.
In Popular Culture
One of the best visualizations could be seen in the Stephens Spielberg Movie “Ready Player One”. The movie explains how people will use the Metaverse to escape reality and how companies will use it for advertising.
Interaction and Technologies In Metaverse
Metaverse is the virtual universe with unlimited possibilities. However, how will users connect and interact in the Metaverse is a topic of great discussion. To understand the Metaverse concept, it is necessary to know the hardware and technology that will be the building blocks of the Metaverse.
Hardware and controllers will be the core of Metaverse interaction. Here are some of the major components, technologies, and hardware that would be part of Metaverse.
Virtual reality is a major technology and framework of the entire Metaverse. VR in the simplest term could be described as a 3D display technology that creates a simulated environment.
The most common method of interaction today is Screen Display. However, VR allows users to get inside 3D designs and view them from first person perspective.
Currently, it integrates two major senses: vision and hearing to stimulate a real-like experience of a virtual 3D world. Although, in the future, it could add senses like smells and maybe even touch. Sony PlayStation and Xbox have already developed VR games.
This technology allows secure and transparent transactions without any central authority. It is the backbone of Cryptocurrency and has many other potential applications in different industries. Blockchain could be an integral part of Metaverse and is extremely important for its long-term sustainability.
NFT or Non-Fungible Token
NFT is a non-fungible token. These are cryptographic assets with a unique digital identity stored in the blockchain and help determine ownership of digital assets.
In other words, NFT help represents digital assets in a permanent and verifiable way. They can be used to represent virtual items, game assets, land ownership, and many other digital assets in Metaverse.
VR Headset or HMD (Head Mounted Display)
This is the most important hardware in Metaverse. The head gear is inbuilt with two display screens for both eyes and ear prices for hearing senses. Oculus, HTC, and Sony are some major players in VR head gear market.
An avatar is a character that represents you in the Metaverse just like in games. It’s a 3d character of how other people in Metaverse would see you. Although avatar is not a new concept, it is one of the major parts of user interaction in Metaverse.
You might want to play cricket, tennis, or shake hands inside the Metaverse. You need to move your hands, legs or change your facial expression in the Metaverse. Users would need controllers to do so. Haptic gloves, motion sensors and face detectors could be a major part of consumer facing hardware.
This is another cutting-edge gaming control that is currently being developed as a part of VR games and could be the major Metaverse hardware. Users can run, kneel, crouch or jump on the treadmill to control their avatar actions in the Metaverse.
There could be dozens of other technologies, consumer facing hardware and enterprise hardware for better interaction through the Metaverse. These components are expected to develop with the requirements and imagination of creators.
Metaverse Framework— Merging the Physical with the Virtual World
To have a better bird eye view of Metaverse and its true potential, we need to integrate different technologies that we have today. As mentioned earlier, Metaverse is only a vision till now, there is no specific definition or parameter to define what is Metaverse and what isn’t.
Let’s start with the most common example for every millennial: PUBG or BGMI. Well, PUBG is a totally different concept than Metaverse. However, it shares some similarities with Metaverse like avatar, real-time interaction, and shared map. However, by changing a few specifics, we can have a rough idea about what Metaverse would look like.
Here are some basic features that Metaverse would have.
- It’s a Platform not a Game
PUBG allows you to connect with 3 other friends and compete with other random players. Now change the game to a platform with no weapons, no guns, no zones, no target and timings. This brings us to the first and foremost specific of a Metaverse: No winning, losing, or time bound.
Now you must be wondering what people will do on the platform if they have no motive or target, just wait a while and you will get your answer.
- Massively Scaled
Now, scale the map to a very large area where millions of people and buildings could fit. Include places like clubs, gaming houses, stadiums, etc. inside. The maximum number of people in PUBG game is 100. However, a Metaverse could have millions or even a billion people interconnected on the same platform.
- Real time 3D Rendering
You visualize the PUBG game on a 2D Mobile screen. However, users will access the Metaverse with VR headset and visualize the world in first person perspective. Instead of touch screen control, users would use controllers like Haptic gloves, motion sensors, etc. Hardware components that allow users to interact in the Metaverse will keep changing according to the expansion and use of Metaverse.
Reminder: PUBG, Fortnite or any other game currently available on the market is not Metaverse or even pre-Metaverse. We are just changing the specifics of existing platforms to better understand Metaverse.
PUBG is time bound, 15-30 minutes depending on the type of game. Metaverse would be continuous. That means users will be able to enter or exit any time, and the Metaverse will keep functioning forever, without stopping.
- Shared and Open Source
Well Facebook will not be the Metaverse, it is supposed to build one of the Metaverse. There could be dozens of Metaverse in the future. Currently, there are already some pre-Metaverse platforms like second life, sand box, etc. Even companies like Microsoft and Google might build their own version of Metaverse.
The next highlighting thing about Metaverse is that it is open source. Different creators and companies will build their own project inside Metaverse just like Android and iOS applications. There would be various spaces and projects built by companies and other creators for gaming, surfing, dancing, etc.
A gaming company could build a flight simulator inside the Metaverse. Users can enter a flight simulator by paying in some form of digital currency. The user can then exit it and go virtual skiing.
Probably the largest difference is in terms of virtual reality technology that we have compared to the future Metaverse. Metaverse is supposed to be a shared ecosystem where everyone can use the same digital assets, currency, and avatar across all different projects of the same Metaverse or even between two different Metaverse.
For example, the costume you get in PUBG won’t work in Fortnite or free fire. True Metaverse users and creators would be able to build and use all the digital assets, content, infrastructure, across all the multiverse projects.
What Can Metaverse Do?
Possibility in the world of Metaverse is only limited by imagination. If you can imagine it, you can create it in the Metaverse. Metaverse is a giant leap forward on the internet. While you can currently browse on the internet or use social media, you can probably “live” in Metaverse to a degree.
The Metaverse will open doors to unlimited possibilities just like electricity or mobile phone internet. Metaverse would not only be user centric but could also be the largest workplace.
Here are some of the major changes that Metaverse is expected to bring.
Bring the New Escape
Metaverse is supposed to connect everyone. A whole generation will just connect to a new virtual universe where they can be anyone, go anywhere, do anything. It will change how we interact with our friends’ families and colleagues.
Video call would be replaced by virtual meeting on the Metaverse using a VR gear. Users can go surfing, mountain climbing, paragliding, visit depth of oceans, or even visit the mars through a VR experience in the Metaverse.
From entertainment to visiting a place that’s impossible, Metaverse would be an escape for billions of people from real life.
Disrupt the Gaming World
Gaming is probably the closest thing to Metaverse. The VR gaming experience provides a glimpse of what Metaverse would look like from our eyes.
We are probably less than a decade away when 99% of the games we play today would be obsolete and Metaverse will rewrite how games are played today. 2D screen and joysticks are already replaced by head mounted Visual device (VR gear) and move motion controllers, touch controller, sensors, and smart gloves.
Gamers in the Metaverse world would be able to play different games with the same avatar and use the same currency for all the games.
Media and User Experience
There is a great probability that Metaverse will change the way we listen to music or watch a video. With the VR, you could get inside a 360-degree video and experience the thrill of being immersed in an exciting environment.
There are already thousands of 360-degree videos available on the internet to give you a firsthand experience, but with Metaverse it will go even beyond that. There might be a virtual theater inside the Metaverse where you watch a play. Recently Travis Scott performed a concert on Fortnite making it the first Metaverse Event.
Digital Asset and Ownership
Metaverse is supposed to integrate the concept of digital asset commerce and ownership. Companies will be able to build, buy, sell, and lease items like real estate, a car or a song.
Since NFT would be a major part of Metaverse, it will protect the ownership of digital assets like a photo, music, video, or costume.
For example, an artist could release his album in the Metaverse, which users can buy to listen to while in the Metaverse. With the use of NFT, the album would be free from piracy or listened to illegally.
A shoe company could make virtual sneakers shoes, which could be sold on a virtual mall or shop with crypto. The user could dress up his avatar with sneakers he just brought. Recently, Decentraland sold virtual real estate for $ 2.4 million.
This is probably one of the major use cases of Metaverse. Microsoft Teams is currently working on its own version of Metaverse to make a digital workplace that fills all the gap of current remote working idea. Metaverse will allow interactive in-person meetings with immersive viewing. The use of body language and facial expression will make virtual meetings effective and expressive.
The possibilities are unlimited in the field of education with virtual schools in the metaverse in which students would be able to interact with teachers and friends just like in real classes. People could learn sports like cricket, football, or any other game that requires physical interaction to learn. What Metaverse could do is only limited by imagination.
Real-World Metaverse Examples
Currently dozens of companies are working on Metaverse including tech giants like Meta, NVidia, Epic Games, Microsoft, and Apple. Currently there a few platforms that claim toa be Metaverse, but they are still in development phase and still lack some of the core features of a true Metaverse. Here are some of the closest Metaverse Examples:
Decentraland is a shared virtual world where users can explore, create, experience, and trade places, scenes, artwork, social games, and applications. Participants can purchase land in Decentraland to create 3D scenes, games, or experiences. These scenes can be visited and used by others on the platform.
Users can use Decentraland’s native token (MANA) to buy, sell, or lease land from other users. It is one of the most popular and well-known projects in the Metaverse space controlled by users.
Roblox is a massive multiplayer online game platform where users can create their own games or play others. It has more than 30 million active players and 1 billion hours of gameplay have been logged till now.
Roblox allows users to buy, sell, and lease virtual items with its own currency called Robux. Although, it’s not exactly Metaverse, it does offer some of the features like user-generated content, in-game economy, and social interaction.
Sandbox is a social VR platform that allows users to interact with each other in a virtual world. It is still in development phase but offers some of the features of Metaverse.
Sandbox also has a block chain version giving a peek into the future of digital assets, blockchain and NFT in Metaverse.
- High Fidelity
High Fidelity is an open-source, cross-platform virtual world server software launched in 2013 and since then has been used by individuals, companies, and organizations to create virtual worlds for training, education, conferences & events, collaboration, and more.
Fortnite is a free-to-play battle royale game developed and published by Epic Games with over 350 million players. Fortnite is primarily a multiplayer shooting game that allows multiple people to connect and play and compete against each other in a shared space.
In addition to its Battle Royale mode, Fortnite also features the Creative Mode where players can build their own custom maps and play around in them with friends. While this is not the closest example of Metaverse, we kept it in the list because of its popularity and similarity to Metaverse Vision.
- Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go is a location-based augmented reality game developed and published by Niantic. The game was released in 2016 and quickly became one of the most popular games in the world.
Pokemon Go was the first game to offer some Metaverse features such as AR, location-based gameplay and social interaction.
In Pokemon Go, players use their phone’s GPS to track down and capture virtual creatures called Pokemon. These Pokemons can then be used in battles against other players or traded with other players.
Does Metaverse Have a Future?
Yes, Metaverse has a very bright future. A lot of people, especially millennials are already fond of existing virtual reality games. Features like digital asset commerce and ownership, remote working, and social interaction make it a compelling idea.
Metaverse is supposed to provide users with an experience rather than just information and data. The Metaverse would bring endless business and learning opportunities. Metaverse will bring changes in user behaviour and preferences. Investing and building virtual assets would build a new digital economy integrated with the real one.
Metaverse could become the ultimate place to enjoy events like concerts, cricket matches or business meetings. Artists could release their music and videos on Metaverse secured from piracy with digital ownership through NFT. Metaverse is supposed to own the entertainment industry in future. Metaverse with its immersive virtual experience will definitely re-engineer the entertainment industry.
The vision for metaverse is a long-term sustainable virtual ecosystem. It does not just have a future for itself, but it will also redefine and improvise our behavior, economy, digital industry, entertainment industry, learning methodology, business models, and much more.
Negatives of Metaverse
There is a huge technological challenge in making a true Metaverse. The specialization in hardware and technology that could connect a billion people in same platform could be decades away.
Even if a true Metaverse evolves, people leaving the real world by wearing a half kg weighing Head mounted display to live in a virtual space has limited scope. Although, it will provide an escape and create a great gaming experience for users, its market size, at max would be as large as social media industry today.
The Metaverse would be even amazing if it is built as a decentralized and open-source virtual space rather than a company owned business place.
Addiction: People can get addicted to living in a virtual world and may lose touch with reality.
Escapism: Participants may use Metaverse as an escape from the problems of real life and people might start outliving problems instead of solving them.
Data and privacy concerns: Companies would be able to collect a lot more data from users that it does today. With the evolution of Metaverse, there will be a concern for data manipulation and privacy issues.
Cost implications: The hardware, software and VR experience would not come cheap. People will spend a larger share of their income in Metaverse that they do today on social media or online gaming.
Cyberbullying: Just like the harassments and bullying on social media, Metaverse would be a new place for bullies to victimize people.
These are some of the potential negative impacts of Metaverse. However, many of these concerns are already prevalent in today’s technology world. We will just have to wait and see how Metaverse unfolds in future.
India’s Contribution in Building Metaverse
India is currently world’s largest IT service exporter and has the second largest IT industry in the world. India’s IT industry was valued at $194 Billion in FY 2021 and is expected to rise to $350 billion industry by 2026.
These stats show that India will be one of the key contributors in building the Metaverse. India also has the largest population of millennials who are early adopters of modern technology. Our country also has many tech-savvy people who can contribute to developing the Metaverse.
India has a huge pool of users, gamers and creators who can contribute to developing VR technologies. Indian start-ups like OneRare and Loka are already working on Metaverse.
Infosys, TCS, and Wipro are some of the Indian IT companies that could be large contributors in Metaverse. These companies have the expertise and resources to develop the required hardware and software for the Metaverse.
Thus, India would not only be a huge market for Metaverse but would play a crucial role in developing the Metaverse.
- Why Metaverse involve holograms?
Metaverse is just a concept that integrates many state-of-the -art technologies like VR and AR allowing users to experience a Virtual design like real. Holograms are used to create a realistic 3D image of the user that can be used for an immersive Metaverse experience.
- What coin will be used in Metaverse?
Currency to be used in Metaverse is still not decided and will depend on the preferences of users and creators. However, it is most likely that Metaverse will allow multiple cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethanium that can even be exchanged in real world.
- Is there Metaverse crypto?
Currently there are different cryptocurrencies used across diverse Metaverse platforms. Decentraland uses MANA, and Robolox uses Robux. However, multiple cryptos might be allowed in the future as Metaverse develops.
- Can Metaverse make you rich?
Business opportunities in Metaverse are endless and depends on the creativity of users and entrepreneurs. However, like most things in life, there is no guarantee that everyone will become rich in Metaverse. It all depends on how you use this new virtual world.
- Can Metaverse be hacked?
Metaverse will closely be tied up with blockchain technology, making it secure and tamperproof. However, like any other system, Metaverse might have loopholes and vulnerability that can be exploited.
- Can Metaverse work without blockchain?
Metaverse is a concept while blockchain is a technology that makes Metaverse so huge. Digital asset, ownership and Metaverse currency couldn't exist without blockchain technology. Although, a technology like Metaverse could exist even without blockchain, it won’t embed the core features of true Metaverse.
- Are Metaverse tokens on coinbase?
Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that allows you to buy, sell or store cryptocurrencies. Currently, Coinbase is used to buy, sell and exchange existing Metaverse currencies like MANA, SAND and Robox.
- Are Metaverse coins related to Facebook?
No, Metaverse has no relation with Facebook. Metaverse is a new virtual world while Facebook is a social media platform. However, Facebook has already ventured into the world of Virtual Reality and Metaverse with their Oculus Rift.
- Can Metaverse fail?
Metaverse is still in its early developmental stages and has a long way to go. Like any other new concept, it might fail if it doesn't meet the expectations of users or fails to live up to its hype. However, the current trend and vison of Metaverse is very promising and less likely to fail. There are already games and businesses that are thriving on the concept of metaverse.
- Can Metaverse be stopped?
Metaverse is not a physical entity, so it can't be stopped. Peer to peer network, decentralization and blockchain technology will make it virtually impossible to stop Metaverse.
- Can Metaverse be dangerous?
Like any other new technology, the Metaverse would have some inherent risks like health issues and privacy breach. However, with proper precautions, regulations and safety measures, these risks can be managed and minimized.
- Did Metaverse buy Facebook?
No, instead Facebook changed its name to 'Meta' and plans to build Metaverse in the coming decade.
- What are some of the closest examples of Metaverse?
Some of the closest Metaverse Examples are Decentraland and Second Life. Both platforms offer users a virtual world to explore, with their own in-game currency that can be used to purchase goods and services.
- What is Metamates?
The employees of Facebook who are developing the Metaverse are termed as Metamates by Mark Zuckerberg.