Metaverse Meaning and Definition:
What is Metaverse? Well, it’s a complex term involving the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality, physically persistent virtual space and also includes integration of other virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.
The simple breakdown of the term will be “Meta” – beyond verse-“universe”. The concept of Metaverse simply revolves around an online world where, people can have the ability to hang out with friends, work, purchase goods, and services, or attend any event.
While many virtual worlds are accessible today, users can’t navigate through them while retaining their identity and assets. Metaverse is allegedly going to solve this problem by integrating these virtual worlds into a single universe hence, the term “Metaverse”. The term does not represent the technology but, with the change in the dynamics of interaction with technology, it will get acquainted as a specific technology type in near future.
Before we glide into the Meta-Universe let’s have a peek at the history of the Metaverse.
History of Metaverse
The term Metaverse is certainly a hot topic in the technology world right now, but its roots go back to the early ’90s. The American author Neal Stephenson is the man behind the introduction of the term “Metaverse”, he uses this in his science fiction novel “Snow crash”. The novel was published in 1992. The book covers areas such as computer science, history, linguistics, cryptography, etc.
Roblox is one of the successful players in the Metaverse since its foundation in 2004. But, in 2003 Linden lab’s second life, allowed users to create virtual avatars and live life in-game. The game is still happily used on PCs since 2003. However, the sims game launched in 2000 is also a popular example of the early metaverse.
Craig Donato, Chief Business Officer- ROBLOX, emphasizes on the Metaverse experience requires to be both “immersive” and “social”. Roblox is not investing in AR/VR hardware companies, but certainly investing in online communities such as Guilded and digital avatar Loom.ai.
Emerging technologies unleashing the Metaverse
✤ Metaverse – Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
AR and VR are the supporting pillars of the Metaverse projects. Augmented reality systems work on three essentialities i.e. coupling of real and virtual environments, real-time interactions, and 3D visualization of objects with utter precision.
AR apps come out on top when we talk about adaptability because unlike VR apps installation of AR app is possible on any device having a camera. AR also adds immersive elements to objects which act as an information enhancers. So here, there is no need to use ad-hoc wearables.
On the other hand, VR is entirely providing a simulation experience in the digital world. Here, you will require additional gear such as a head-mount display or multimodal projection screen.
The VR uses sensory experiences at par with the physical reality of the user. VR systems are more expensive than AR systems.
Metaverse will give us XR experience i.e. Extended reality, which indeed is a combo of AR and VR will be the actual experience in metaverse VR apps.
✤ Metaverse Crypto, Metaverse NFT, and Blockchain
Metaverse definition does inform us of its access to the virtual world through augmented & virtual reality. But, another side to the metaverse is blockchain and Cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology will set the Metaverse apart from today’s internet. Metaverse crypto is basically another transaction module for different purposes.
With the involvement of blockchain, it becomes obvious that NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) cryptographic tokens are a point of discussion. NFT’s have taken the crypto market by storm. Metaverse NFT proposes a usage where, a user can own the avatars, land, shopping items via a crypto wallet.
Although NFT is not recommended, the Metaverse believers believe that Metaverse NFT will unleash market opportunities for both users and creators. Further, these cryptocurrencies will be acting as technical supporting pillars for asserting digital asset custodianship undoubtedly.
✤ Artificial intelligence (A.I)
This emerging technology is now becoming an academic discipline in this modern age. Artificial intelligence is making its mark in the business world through its applications, such as automated decision-making systems, self-driving cars, predictive algorithms, and much more.
There is a buzz about implementing Metaverse AI by virtue of Non-playing characters (NPC’s). NPC’s are subsidiary elements integrated with gameplay in order to provide interactive experiences within the virtual settings. Research to augment the Metaverse AI with live 3D settings is on. The best part in all this is that, A.I NPC’s are customizable so the same copy is useful for millions of users.
✤ 3D Reconstruction
This technology is very famous in fields like medicine, archeology, real estate, etc. For instance, consider the medical field; with 3D reconstruction, one can generate a 3D reconstruction of any part of the body before surgery.
In this ongoing pandemic, the real estate sector took the benefit of the 3D Reconstruction technology. The intent was simple, use the technology to reconstruct virtual avatars of living places and offer digital property tours to their customers.
3D reconstruction is a great prospect for Metaverse. The reason for this is simple; it will make Metaverse come alive. 3D spatial data and 4K HD photography will apply to a large extent for creating digital replicas of our world.
✤ Internet of things (IoT)
Real-time simulations require real-time data. IoT has been connecting billions of devices via a livewire network for collecting real-time data.
The injection of IoT into the metaverse will generate a variety of simulations. The possibilities of IoT, interoperating with emerging technologies such as AI, ML, and 5G for seamless data integration and interactions are beyond imagination, hence, limitless.
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The Metaverse is unleashing its potential, but it’s still new to the technology world so let’s understand the two deciding characteristics of the Metaverse.
The Metaverse will allow an interplay between aspects of both Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). A Metaverse app will have to handle the balance of space and time in context to the real world. Interactions in the physical world will be visual, auditory, and dynamic in nature. Expectations from the Metaverse platform will be to deliver experiences on the same lines for digital collaboration or Metaverse companies tie-up.
A Metaverse app needs to have interoperability between multiple Metaverse platforms. The Metaverse app development points to a variable spectrum of technological horizons which requires testing.
Being a new platform, the provision of a company being a Metaverse startup or a legacy bigwig, depends on who is developing it. There is no shortage of toolkits for deploying this future reality into existence. These developer toolkits include the Unreal Engine, Unity, Blender, Amazon’s Sumerian & Maya.
The metaverse marketplace is estimated to be around $800 billion by 2025. Further, this may possibly reach the $2.5 trillion threshold by 2030.
Top projects in Metaverse
Metaverse is not an established domain but, to change the future of the internet the tech giants are emerging with their ideas to make the best use of the platform.
This platform is available since 2019. The company has taken an open-source approach to invite enterprise clients to have a go at the omniverse. Here, developers are able to build, license, and distribute apps with 200 pre-built extensions.
Nvidia has leverage over Pixar’s universal scene description technology (USD). The vice president of Omniverse sees USD as the modern-day HTML for future reality problems. Further, he indicates, the evolution of USD will play the same role for mixed reality ecosystems as HTML did for 2Dweb.
Nvidia presents its omniverse as a 3D browser that is efficient for logging into “workstations and laptops”. Here, users can utilize Metaverse AR to experience the visualization of Omniverse by streaming RTX to their platform. RTX is another visualization platform by Nvidia.
On 28 October 2021, Facebook made an announcement of its rebranding as Meta; this is a classic example hostile takeover of an emerging domain to impact the market before it even reaches the public as a service. To further prove this point, Facebook has no working iteration of its Metaverse AR. Facebook’s idea of Metaverse involves virtual avatars of users playing games, holding meetings, attending workshops, exercising, studying, and socializing.
According to Zuckerberg, it will take 10 years for Metaverse to become mainstream.
✤ Microsoft’s Metaverse stack
In 2021, the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella discusses the efforts that were in progress to engineer a representational infrastructure layer that will be an offspring of the culmination of physical and digital worlds.
This enterprise metaverse stack, allows developers to fully replicate real-world assets like workspaces warehouse, retail stores, etc. onto the Microsofts platform.
The fancy avatars audience that was introduced in Facebook’s Meta makeover, will be not even close to what Microsoft will offer as a service.
For example, manufacturing entities can use it for training purposes for their employees with Metaverse VR. Additionally, workforce training will take get to the next level with the Metaverse AR i.e. digitally mapped simulations will allow engineers to change and validate the designs of the components. In conclusion, this spells the onset of a Metaverse AI that could learn and adapt via data collection.
Metaverse Challenges & Warnings
After understanding the metaverse, one thing is clear – with the benefits there will be challenges and signs of warning while implementing the idea.
The main challenge will be handling identity authentication and privacy control while forming a regulatory body for monitoring the domain. State of art Identity Access Management systems has to be involved in the proverbial nervous system of the Metaverse.
Future of the Metaverse
In conclusion, the metaverse isn’t being built by any one group or company, different groups will be responsible for developing different virtual worlds, and in the upcoming future, these worlds will be interoperable—forming the Metaverse.
So the fact is that metaverse will be as common as the internet in near future, even though it may be present challenges.