What is Metaverse?
Metaverse is augmented virtual reality. A digital world that we will be able to connect to through VR goggles and spend time in. Right now, using the Internet is primarily a two-dimensional experience mediated by a screen. The Metaverse could make it possible for us to literally immerse ourselves in it and perform activities there, previously reserved only for the real world. This is one of the fastest growing technologies of the future.
Metaverse is a compound of the words meta and verse. The term was invented by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson and first appears in his 1992 book. The novel is set in a dystopian world ruled by greedy corporations. Its inhabitants escape from everyday problems into cyberspace, the metaverse, where they can move around as their avatars. Of course, it costs money to beautify one’s character, and the poorer ones have to settle for gray images.
Metaverse – who benefits from it?
Less than 30 years later, a concept from a science fiction book, is finding its way into the real world. We’re not just talking about Facebook’s plans here. The potential of the metaverse is something most large corporations take for granted. Companies see the future in it, because it means a chance to create a powerful demand for things that don’t physically exist, which could turn out to be a real vein of gold. Another example is the involvement of Nike, which is taking this area very seriously and intends to sell digital equivalents of its shoes in the metaverse. Just as in the real world, counterfeits will probably appear there after a while. This will lead to debates about how the law works in the new digital world. Nike will certainly want strong protection for its intellectual property.
States, cities and digital reality
Plans for metavers, however, are also emerging on the part of state and public institutions. Barbados has become the first country in the world to open an embassy there. The state bought a virtual plot of land in the Decentraland game and built its representative office on it. Admittedly, the initiative is more of a marketing effort, including self-promotion by its author Gabriel Abed, Barbados’ ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, who is also CEO of crypto company Bitt. It is possible, however, that one day other countries will follow in the Caribbean state’s footsteps. Where virtual embassies go, international laws and treaties will also have to follow.
From countries, let’s move to cities, and more specifically to the South Korean capital. Seoul intends to create its own metaverse, which will be used for tourism and events. Interestingly, the 1:1 digital reproduction of the city will also reconstruct monuments that have not survived to our times, including one of its former symbols – the Donuimun Gate, demolished in 1915 by Japanese colonists. According to plans by Seoul authorities, various celebrations, such as welcoming the New Year in front of the Bosingak Pavilion, are to be held in the metaverse in parallel with events in the real world. In digital Seoul, it will also be possible to go to virtual offices and get your business done by meeting with avatars of officials. A social service delivery center will open there as early as 2023. The city has already allocated more than $3 million for the construction of the metaverse, and promises to complete the project by 2030.
Work and games in virtual reality
According to experts, all the building blocks needed to build the metaverse are already on the table. With 5G networks, the technical possibilities exist for our infrastructure to handle such a massive amount of data. Also when it comes to the human factor, the development of the concept is definitely simpler at the moment than it was even 3 years ago. The pandemic changed habits and influenced the mindset of millions of people who experienced lockdowns and participated in daily interactions with the outside world without leaving their homes.
For many, remote work has become the daily bread, and instant messaging services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have entered a golden age. The companies behind them recognize the potential of metaversum, and if the concept continues to grow, it will only be a matter of time before we move our business meetings in front of the webcam to 3D virtual conference rooms. Such solutions are already on the way.