Few things have gone as viral lately as the word “metaverse”. The beginning was made by Facebook and its renaming to Meta, with Mark Zuckerberg clearly saying that the future of social media is in the metaverse, while a little later Microsoft followed with its announcements. However, the concept of the metaverse is not new, nor is it something that Facebook introduced, it just made the term popular. So what exactly is metaverse?
If the internet is something we look at on a screen, the metaverse is a version of the internet in which we are inside. There can be thousands or millions of different metaverse worlds. The idea is that we can move inside the metaverse as an avatar, a digital version of ourselves – in which we give characteristics of our liking – which we control as we explore the metaverse.
The metaverse is a spatial structure, a digital space of three dimensions, in contrast to the previous (current) version of the internet which is linear and 2D. But this does not necessarily mean that we have to talk about virtual reality, since it can also exist on a phone or a computer.
So what can you do in the metaverse? Exactly what you can do on the internet, just with a more immersive experience. You can work with colleagues at work, you can travel to exotic destinations, can play games, go out with your friends in a virtual bar; Activities have no limits.
There are already companies that sell user-customized avatars, which you can buy and explore on metaverse. The metaverse economy is already an existing concept and we are not only talking about buying and selling digital goods but also services. In an immersive environment such as that of the metaverse, there are needs for the avatar, such as a stylist for its appearance or even a decorator for its house. Companies are already selling branded clothes for avatars, while plots and houses are being bought for millions of dollars through cryptocurrencies.
Microsoft is developing a working environment in the metaverse, a version of Teams called Mesh, which is designed to work with a variety of different devices, taking collaboration to other levels. Colleagues can be in the same digital space, even if they are actually at home. Through the digital tools at their disposal they will be able to complete a task, seeing the same things in real-time.
The next step for the metaverse is to focus on the human senses. Companies are already developing accessories through which you can feel the digital world around you. Meta for example is developing a glove that will allow you to feel the object holding your avatar. Sensors measure the user’s movements and air below the surface of the glove inflates the fabric to create the illusion of touch.
In any case, the metaverse is here. This is not a science-fiction scenario, as the huge investments made by technology giants prove that it is not something ephemeral and that the future of the internet will be real. Are we ready for this future?