See You In The Metaverse
A Guide for the New Digital Frontier
On October 28th, Facebook announced its rebranding to Meta. Shortly followed by Microsoft’s announcement to integrate the metaverse into its software. But what is the Metaverse, and when is it coming?
What is the Metaverse?
The word “Metaverse” is separated into two parts. The first part, “Meta”, which means “beyond, future.” The second part is “verse”, meaning the universe. So, this technology is dealing with the future of the universe we exist in, which is no small task.
Generally speaking though, according to yahoo finance, “The Metaverse is a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users “live” within a digital universe. Supporters of the metaverse envision its users working, playing and staying connected with friends through everything from concerts and conferences to virtual trips around the world.” In other words, it is describing the future iteration of the internet made up of persistent shared 3D virtual spaces linked into one virtual universe.
When you play video games traditionally like Minecraft, Fortnite, NBA2k, and other games, the company has complete ownership of how the game plays out, looks, and what you can accomplish. If Epic Games, the founder of Fortnite, wanted to delete Fortnite from existence, they could do it. Imagine waking up one morning and the hundreds of dollars you have spent in a game no longer exist. That risk is erased in the Metaverse. You now have control over the game and the future of the game. Instead of playing out someone else’s vision, you can control your own destiny just like in real life.
Where can I go to try out the Metaverse?
I would start in Decentraland or the Sandbox! Anyone can make an account and join. The world is owned and created by the users. You can walk around, build things, create your character and equip yourself with accessories and apparel, attend events, and much more.
What can I do in the Metaverse?
Bridging the gap between VR headsets, mobile devices, and laptops, users can “enter” a virtual environment that consists of interconnected worlds from apps to games. One specific example is being able to conduct a virtual office meeting surrounding a large table, including an interactive whiteboard. Remember all the hype about those NFTs that have been all over social media and different news sources? Well, these tokens can give users ownership in the digital world, including being used for personal art museums, character customization, and other physical world objects becoming digitalized and completely owned by the user.
Another example is fitness. Online workouts have not changed much over the past decade besides new gadgets that come out. But the metaverse is here and changes the way people interact with each other and see things in their workout. For example, The Tour de France was held virtually this past year. Pro cyclists could compete in a digital version of the annual event (postponed due to COVID). Instead of watching the race on TV you can ride the same routes as the pros. Next time you are biking at the gym or at home on your peloton slip on your Oculus or headset and enter a new location and environment of experiences around you as you complete your workout.
What are the future use cases of the Metaverse?
AI can be used to create, audit, and secure smart contracts, making them safer and easier to create and use. We have an immediate need for this, and the technology we need to do it exists.
We are also entering a breakout phase of extended reality (XR) hardware such as smart glasses, haptics, omni treadmills, and other VR/AR technologies that can become more mainstream to the public. There’s also talk of wrist-based electromyography (EMG) input technology that is believed to be key to controlling future devices — it could one day allow you to send a message in AR with your hand resting comfortably at your side.
My Final Thoughts
In my opinion, a metaverse is a testnet of the real world. Clearly with Facebook’s dramatic name change to Meta, and investment from other big companies such as Disney, Roblox, and Nvidia that there is much opportunity to be found. However, the only way a metaverse will have value is by building, destroying, and rebuilding again until there is a fundamental economy to generate value. Once this is accomplished the network effects are vast, but everything starts with the ability to form an economy of value and trust.
Check out this video with GaryVee and Mark Zuckerberg discussing the Metaverse:
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Bennett Thompson, studying Finance and Computer Science at Northeastern University
Jack Hughes, studying in FinTech and Data Science at Northeastern University