In this article:
- The term actually does originate from SciFi but now it basically refers to a more immersive version of the internet.
- Virtual reality and augmented reality technology will make it possible to work, play, and socialize online in new ways.
- Although it has a lot of potential, there are some serious issues to confront before we let the metaverse become such a big part of our daily lives.
The Metaverse is a term used to describe the next step in the evolution of the internet. It is a space that allows users to interact and experience virtual worlds in a more realistic way. The Metaverse has many benefits, such as allowing people to connect and communicate in new ways.
However, there are also some disadvantages to consider before jumping in headfirst. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the Metaverse is, and why it may be the future of the internet!
What Is the Metaverse?
The term was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash. In most movies, books, and other media, the metaverse is often described as a three-dimensional internet where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology lets users can interact and experience virtual worlds in a more realistic way.
If you’ve seen or read Ready Player One, the “Oasis” is essentially the Metaverse we were hoping to see soon.
If you’re still a little confused, you’re not alone. Talking about the metaverse today is like talking about the telephone or internet back when those were brand new and not yet part of our daily lives.
Part of that confusion comes from the fact that the term is so overused and exaggerated that it basically lost its meaning.
Nevertheless, the metaverse is real and it’s actually not much different than the internet we have now. A lot of the hype is just based on the idea that we may soon get to achieve our dream of living inside the internet.
Let’s separate the hype and exaggeration from the real thing by taking a look at what the metaverse currently looks like today.
What Does the Metaverse Look Like Now?
If you’ve played online video games, then you already know what the metaverse is. Some games that have metaverse-like concepts are Fortnite, GTA V (especially the Role-Play servers), and of course, Minecraft. You can virtually live inside of these games, and living in a digital space is one of the promises that the metaverse has.
The metaverse is the universe in which these projects, apps, and games exist. Saying games like Fortnite, GTA V, Sansar, or Facebook’s Horizon World are the metaverse is like saying Google is the internet — or saying Earth, Mars, or any other planet is the universe.
The concept of the metaverse might be easiest to recognize in the gaming world but it’s going to expand far beyond that. The same VR and AR technology that we’re starting to see for video games is being developed for other uses as well.
One of the most popular metaverse projects right now, for example, is Sansar, a social VR platform that allows people to connect and communicate in new ways. With Sansar, users can create, share, and experience virtual worlds with other people.
Another famous project is Horizon World, from Meta (formerly Facebook). It’s pretty much the same concept as Sansar, only executed by Meta. And it’s part of the reason the company rebranded as Meta.
Technology that Will Make the Metaverse Possible
To create a metaverse similar to the ones depicted in literature, you would need technology that does not yet exist. For example, Metaverses will require better graphics rendering capabilities on computers and mobile devices than we have now.
The Metaverse also requires new hardware to support the new ways we interact with and view our computers. That includes VR goggles, AR glasses and more immersive headsets with built-in microphones plus sensors for motion tracking and eye-tracking.
Of course, let’s not forget VR gloves or perhaps a full-body suit that’ll make you feel everything you touch and everything that interacts with you within the metaverse (even pain). VR treadmills will also be necessary so that we can walk around in the metaverse while we’re staying in one spot in the real world.
Finally, the metaverse will require new software to connect these devices with each other, as well as higher capacity and higher speed servers and internet connections to support the programs.
Why Is the Metaverse the Future?
The Metaverse allows people to connect, interact, and communicate in new ways. It will allow you to meet friends, do business, play games, browse the internet, shop at your favorite stores all from one virtual world! Instead of a video chat on Discord or Zoom, imagine meeting your friends in a virtual room.
Imagine being able to attend school in the metaverse. Imagine socializing with friends in a virtual world, and imagine doing all your work on your computer, only this time it’s going to be more realistic than ever.
These are some of the many possibilities that the metaverse promises and although they might sound a bit out there, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. With VR and AR tech being developed all the time, who knows? Maybe in a couple of years, all this won’t be sci-fi anymore.
We have seen some of this before with past games and metaverse projects, but these were limited in what they could do.
Setting aside the issue of using the term as a buzzword, companies like Faceb… um, Meta and Microsoft, are betting big on the Metaverse. For example, Microsoft recently acquired VR social platform, AltspaceVR. And Facebook’s name change is in itself a big bet on the metaverse.
With the backing of these big companies, I think the development of said metaverse will happen much faster and maybe become much more advanced than we thought.
Issues With the Metaverse
No matter how great of an innovation it might be, there will inevitably be issues. For the metaverse, most of those are carried over from our modern-day internet. For example, the metaverse could be used for criminal activities, like fraud, identity theft, and plain old theft through hacking.
Another issue is that the metaverse can be used to spread disinformation and fake information. This could have disastrous consequences as it could manipulate people’s opinions and sway them in dangerous directions much more easily than the false information swarming our current internet.
There are social issues as well. Cyberbullying, which is already a huge problem on our current internet, could become a bigger problem as more of our lives move online. Additionally, users might find themselves addicted to the virtual worlds of the metaverse (as they are now with the internet) which could lead to problems in their real life.
Another issue is that the Metaverse is still in its early stages of development. This means that it is not yet as user-friendly or as developed as the internet we use today. This also means that it may be vulnerable to cyber attacks, which could cause problems for users and businesses alike. The big issue here is also the user’s privacy. With a metaverse intent on immersing the user as much as possible, I think we first need to set clear boundaries around privacy.
What do you think? If you have some thoughts, I’d love to see you in the comments below!