Posted January 04, 2022
WHAT IS A METAVERSE ANYWAY?
What is Metaverse and what does this “Virtuous New World” mean for People, Society, Brands and Technology?
Metaverse is basically the internet, only three-dimensional. Imagine entering the websites you are browsing … What changes – social, technological, economic and lifestyle – could this bring?
Table of Contents:
What is a Metaverse anyway?
Writer Neal Stephenson coined the word metaverse or “metaverse” for his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. According to him, the metaverse is a version of the Internet, where an alternative universe exists in the common space of virtual reality and uses real-world concepts such as roads, buildings, rooms or objects from everyday life.
People in the metaverse move as avatars, are in the form of 3D models, and can communicate with other people through their avatars, and also, they can communicate with entities that look like avatars, but are in fact programmed agents, robots or chatbots.
What would that three-dimensional internet look like in the first place?
Imagine not only being able to open a website, but having to enter it. Metaverse is a 3D successor to the Internet that will allow you to navigate and explore real and virtual worlds in a 1: 1 ratio. Access to these worlds will be possible through virtual reality, a mobile device, your computer or a game console.
You can be as tall as a giant or as small as an ant. You can run, swim or even fly. Being completely alone or with company. You can create and share virtual content yourself, watch a concert or a sporting event. The possibilities of this “new world” are endless, there are almost no limits – because everything happens virtually.
Instead of closing your browser, you are teleporting virtually
At one point you hang out with friends in the world of Facebook, and then switch to the world of Netflix where you continue to hang out together with a good movie. But instead of closing a tab in a web browser and opening a new one, you are virtually teleporting from one space to another.
Metaverse does not only open (virtual) doors to the worlds of imagination. This same technology can instantly bring you to a virtual view of real-world places (similar to Google Street View), including those places that are mostly inaccessible due to geographic location. While sitting in your home, you can shop “in the middle of Paris” (without spending money on an expensive plane ticket and without spending time traveling).
If we accept the assumption that the metaverse is basically the Internet – just transformed and alive within a permanent digital environment – then we can think of it as a combination of experiences and places that allow people to build, buy, sell, collaborate or play together in real time. Just like a real city, the metaverse will be made up of different parts such as stations, theaters, concert halls, shopping malls, offices and more. These worlds can be digital replicas of the real world, and they can also be completely different from what we know in reality.
No more passive surfing
The focus and goal of virtualizing different worlds into one experience is to put emotions into code. This process has led to the creation of different, impressive environments that give us insight into what metaverses will look like: a persistent ecosystem that combines embodied experiences ranging from the digital twin of the real world to fantastic experiences and environments that are only possible in digital form.
Instead of passively moving through information on a flat surface, you can communicate with objects and information just as you do in the real world. For example, real estate agents can replace a set of blueprints by offering virtual tours that allow people to explore the hallways of a building before it is built, actively customizing surface textures, colors, or even the look itself – with VR devices.
Many virtualization products already exist today: for example, you can be at a concert in the Epic Games (Fortnite) or watch the entire NBA season with your friends from the virtual stadium with the help of the VR set Oculus Quest.
These two experiences are currently unrelated to each other, and a key feature of the metaverse is the interoperability or connectivity of everything – allowing for a seamless, more natural experience of moving from one space to another. Like crossing the street from event A to event B.
A key feature of the Metaverse is interoperability
The development of such an interoperable environment requires a special, open standard that allows the exchange of information between one platform or system to another. This means you can buy a digital artwork in one world and then display it in your home in a virtual space.
In order to build such new standards and ensure a flawless experience for customers, instead of competition, small and large companies will have to give way to mutual cooperation. This is much better, we would say obligatory, than having digital experiences presented in their own closed ecosystem.
Although such a unique and interoperable metaverse does not yet exist, the world’s we can immerse ourselves in and virtual worlds are already available for construction and exploration on various platforms, and the audience that uses and consumes it is growing rapidly and easily adopting new digital rules of conduct. Each of these spaces offers brands the opportunity to build their metaverse presence.
Existing marketing rules will not apply in the Metaverse…
Metaverse can mimic the physical world in a number of ways. It is promising that metaverses will enable experiences and relationships that are not otherwise possible in the real world, as they defy the limitations and laws of nature. For example, merchants can create their own virtual store and fill it with virtual goods.
However, this is a rather limited expression of the full potential and possibilities of virtual media. Marketing, branding, advertising, content and asset creation are quite different in the metaverse than in the real world, as well as compared to other digital platforms.
Just as web pages are not the same as library documents, and applications are different from web pages, it is important to think of the metaverse as a whole new and different space where completely new rules apply – and many existing rules must or may be violated.
… And therefore brands need to react quickly
As we can see, the purpose of virtual worlds will be different, some will be game worlds, while others will bring people together for meetups and education or for doing business. Brands are already considering how they will present themselves in the metaverse, and one of the first things they have to do is identify the type of environment that suits their audience.
Brands can do this by focusing on the following goals:
Presence: FOMO (fear of missing out) has long been a driver of brand marketing strategies. Affordable and impressive digital platforms will encourage consumers to interact.
Business expansion: Brands can very easily expand their business and products to a variety of virtual platforms.
Revenue Generation: Virtual assets and services create opportunities to generate new sources of revenue.
Advertising and Marketing: Immersive platforms allow you to reach new demographic groups right where they are. Brands have always found it difficult to reach gamers through traditional advertising channels.
Media and Entertainment: Engage, entertain, and grow your virtual content and merchandise business.
The worlds of brands will have to be built on virtual platforms, each with its own protocol (such as digital currencies), tools, assets (avatars, accessories, building blocks, etc.) and most importantly, the right audience.
But technology is not yet following all the Metaverses visions
Since the metaverse is virtual, it is easy to forget about the physical components, which are the nuts and bolts that exist in the real world and that are needed to run all digital experiences. It is important and necessary to take into account the existing internet infrastructure as well as hardware limitations in order to understand the potential obstacles we need to overcome in order for the metaverse to come to life.
A more complex digital experience, or rather experience, requires more electricity. Since everything takes place in the cloud, it is realistic to expect the expansion of server farms, which consequently increases global pollution. A complete optical cable infrastructure or a successor to the 5G network is needed for the metaverse to be realized to its full potential.
New standards need to be created that will lay the foundations for metaverses as a living, interconnected virtual world.
The ideal solution would be literally a plug-and-play that allows developers easy access to information from all metaverse systems, without having to learn everything about each world and their special requirements.
Even the metaverse owned by Facebook, or rather Meta, has been announced as a system that will not be closed, but rather – plans to be a driver for the programming community that will dedicate itself to the development of various virtual experiences and worlds.
One of the most famous graphics card manufacturers, Nvidia, has launched the Omniverse platform on which it builds very early attempts at virtual worlds. BMW has used Omniverse to create exact replicas of all its factories, so it can test changes in all aspects of interactive simulation work on a living example.
However, these are only the first steps.
We will not live in virtual, but we will in augmented reality
The future that virtual reality brings us is amazing and we will only feel its full potential in the coming years. Metaverse will be available to us through thousands of applications that we modify and use. But it’s hard to believe that, despite Zuckerberg’s vision, we’ll stay in VR all day, except of course a minority of addicts or obsessed gamers. We will live, in fact, in augmented reality. It will replace our smartphones as an all-day, everyday platform.