What Is The Metaverse?
The metaverse is a concept of an online, 3D, virtual space connecting users in all aspects of their lives. It will be driven by augmented reality, with each user controlling a character or avatar. The metaverse will connect multiple platforms, similar to the internet containing different websites accessible through a single browser.
It is seen as the next step for the internet, providing a 3D environment for users to interact with each other in real-time. It is a virtual space that offers activities like gaming, socializing, shopping, and working for a more engaging, social, and interactive experience than the traditional 2D internet. Blockchain technology has become increasingly important, as it provides the necessary framework for a secure and decentralized platform where it can exist.
How Does The Metaverse Work?
With the rebranding of Facebook to Meta in October 2021 and its promise to invest 10 billion dollars in 2021, the metaverse has become a hot topic. The pandemic has also accelerated its development, with an increased demand for more interactive ways to connect with others while working remotely. Online games such as Pokémon Go and Fortnite have embraced the concept, while tech companies like Nvidia have opened up opportunities in virtual worlds with the Omniverse platform.
To make the metaverse more immersive, companies are using cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 3D reconstruction, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of things (IoT).
Blockchain and cryptocurrency provide a decentralized and transparent solution for digital proof of ownership, digital collectibility, transfer of value, governance, accessibility, and interoperability.
AR and VR are our entry points to the virtual world. AR uses digital visuals to morph the real world, while VR creates an entirely computer-generated virtual environment.
AI has the potential to process data at lightning speed to create non-player characters (NPCs) and realistic avatars, while 3D reconstruction can generate virtual replicas of physical world objects.
Finally, IoT is used to collect and provide data from the physical realm and incorporate it into the virtual world.
What Are The Benefits Of The Metaverse?
The metaverse has the power to bridge physical distances and connect the world, enabling people to come together and communicate regardless of their physical location. It offers a more immersive experience than traditional internet use, allowing for activities such as working out, socializing, gaming, and holding business meetings in a virtual environment.
Furthermore, it enhances online social interactions, making social gatherings more engaging and enabling personal connections with friends and family members. Distance is no longer an issue for any event or family reunion. Additionally, it upgrades social media, allowing users to create shared online worlds that are more interactive than regular social media platforms.
It also opens up new business opportunities, such as virtual storefronts, curated shows, and interactive engagement with customers. Moreover, it improves online learning and education, delivering hands-on learning with visual aids for simpler comprehension of concepts. Additionally, it has a positive influence on cryptocurrencies and NFTs, providing security, reliability, transparency, and decentralization usingmetaverse blockchain technology. Crypto is the currency of the metaverse, and NFTs are used to prove asset ownership and move them between different worlds.
It enhances gaming, providing more immersive VR games. With the Play-To-Earn opportunities it offers new ways for people to make money, creating new methods to make a living using the metaverse.
What Are The Potential Drawbacks Of The Metaverse?
- Limited participation for some, such as individuals with auditory or visual disabilities.
- Simulator sickness or motion sickness that some users may experience during immersive experiences.
- Higher equipment costs for individuals and businesses to participate in the metaverse.
- Potential for bullying, harassment, and assault, and the need for policies and safeguards to address these issues.
- Additional privacy concerns and security issues, including questions about how organizations will approach privacy and how they will secure the metaverse.
- More reasons for addictive behavior, potentially leading to addiction problems and the inability to distinguish between reality and virtual reality.
- Cybercrime, including fraud, money laundering, child exploitation, illegal goods and services trafficking, and cyberattacks.
- Negative impact on cultures and societies, potentially leading to the loss of cultural diversity and traditions.
- Losing connection with the physical world and the potential to become detached from reality.
- Mental health issues, including the potential for immersion in the digital world to lead to permanent disconnection from reality and other psychological issues.
It is worth noting that these potential drawbacks are not exhaustive and may not affect all users or organizations in the same way. As with any new technology, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and benefits and to approach the metaverse with caution and thoughtful consideration. Otherwise we might lose ourselves in a never ending ocean built by technology.
How Will The Metaverse Impact Society?
The metaverse, as a fully-realized virtual world, has the potential to have a significant impact on society in a variety of ways. Here are some possible impacts:
- Changing the way we work: the metaverse could potentially revolutionize the way we work, making remote work more immersive and interactive, and allowing people to collaborate on projects in virtual environments from all over the world. This could have a huge impact on the global workforce, changing the way we think about commuting, office space, and traditional work-life balance.
- Redefining social interactions: the metaverse has the potential to completely change the way we interact with each other. Instead of being limited to communicating through screens, we could be able to interact with each other in fully-realized 3D environments, with realistic avatars, voice chat, and body language. This could have a significant impact on social dynamics, potentially breaking down geographical barriers and allowing people to form deeper connections with each other.
- Advancing entertainment and media: the metaverse could also revolutionize the way we consume and create entertainment and media, allowing for more immersive experiences that blur the lines between reality and fantasy. This could lead to new forms of storytelling, gaming, and even sports.
- The metaverse could create new business opportunities and revenue streams. Companies could create virtual storefronts and sell digital goods and services, potentially disrupting traditional retail and commerce. This could also create new opportunities for creators and artists, who could potentially make a living by creating content for the metaverse.
The metaverse raises ethical and social concerns, such as privacy, security, addiction, cyberbullying, and cultural homogenization. It will be important for creators and companies to address these concerns as the metaverse develops, to ensure that it is a safe and positive space for everyone.
Overall, the metaverse has the potential to transform the way we live, work, and interact with each other, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and concerns. It will be important for society to think critically about how we want to shape this new world, and to work together to create a metaverse that is inclusive, equitable, and safe for all.
Who Owns The Metaverse?
It is still unclear who will ultimately own the metaverse, as it is an emerging concept and the technology is still in development. However, there are several companies investing heavily in the development of the metaverse, including Facebook (Meta), Epic Games, Roblox, and Decentraland, among others. It is possible that multiple companies may own different parts of the metaverse, with some companies owning the platforms and tools for creating content and others owning specific virtual worlds or experiences within the metaverse.
Additionally, it is possible that there could be decentralized, open-source versions of the metaverse that are owned and governed by the users themselves. As with any emerging technology, there are likely to be debates and discussions about ownership and governance as the metaverse develops and becomes more widely adopted. Ultimately, it will be up to society as a whole to determine who owns and controls the metaverse, and what rules and regulations are put in place to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all.
How Will The Metaverse Be Regulated?
The regulation of the metaverse is a complex issue that will require collaboration among governments, technology companies, and other stakeholders. One approach is to treat it like any other virtual environment, subject to existing laws governing content, privacy, and intellectual property.
Another is to develop new regulations specific to the metaverse. Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea are already experimenting with the metaverse, while China is likely to take a firmer stance due to concerns over national security. The EU is planning to propose an initiative on the metaverse in 2023, while the US is expected to focus on ensuring the competitiveness of its companies in the field. Multilateral organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the OECD are also exploring governance frameworks for the metaverse. Industry collaboration will be crucial to ensure open standards.
What Technologies Will Be Used To Create The Metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual world that will be built using a combination of emerging and existing technologies, such as blockchain, cloud computing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 5G networks, and artificial intelligence (AI). Cryptocurrency is one of the primary technologies used in the metaverse and can be used to purchase resources like NFTs and digital real estate. AR and VR technologies create immersive and engaging three-dimensional environments for the metaverse. AI can help improve performance, create realistic avatars, and place NPCs in various scenarios. Finally, 3D reconstruction is being used more frequently to create digital replicas of real-world environments for use in the metaverse.
What companies are working on the metaverse?
Decentraland is a decentralized platform that utilizes the Ethereum blockchain and is widely recognized in the industry. It enables users to create 3D avatars to explore the customizable landscapes, host events, lease out spaces, and construct towering skyscrapers. The digital currency, MANA, can be used to purchase non-fungible digital assets and traded for other virtual currencies on cryptocurrency exchanges. Additionally, users can also use the platform’s “Builder” to create applications, games, and stores, and then sell them in the built-in marketplace for a profit. Decentraland is particularly renowned for its expensive virtual real estate, with one land parcel being sold for a record-breaking $3.5 million in 2021. Despite this, its popularity has declined, with only 56,697 monthly active users by October 2022.
Users of The Sandbox Metaverse, powered by the Ethereum blockchain, can own and monetize parts of the game known as LAND, and create 3D objects and games with VoxEdit. With over two million registered users, major investments from Snoop Dogg and the government of Dubai, and celebrities like Snoop Dogg creating their own virtual worlds within the game, The Sandbox has become increasingly popular. Players can generate income from their creations by listing them on the game’s marketplace, and even selling virtual real estate with LAND plots going for up to $450,000. The game’s own currency, SAND, is also tradeable on crypto exchanges.
Roblox is an immersive platform that enables its users to create and play games, attracting an average of 52 million daily active users and 11.3 million unique monthly players. With a focus on safety, it has 4,000 moderators to ensure a secure gaming environment, particularly for its younger audience. Additionally, Electric Daisy Carnival and other festivals have been hosted on the platform, and even companies like Nike have created their own virtual spaces.
Axie Infinity is an NFT collecting and digital pet community game created by Vietnamese company Sky Mavis. In Axie Infinity, users can purchase and sell “Axies,” customizable creatures that can be pitted against each other in a battle for prizes – a bit like Pokemon. Axie Infinity is more comparable to Decentraland and The Sandbox than Roblox, largely because it’s NFT-based and known for its in-game economy instantiated in the Ethereum blockchain. According to some estimates, Axie Infinity had, almost 3 million monthly active users in late 2021, although that figure has since declined. Some recent estimates suggested the daily active user base sits at around 22,000.
Battle Infinity is a platform that offers multiple Play-to-Earn battle games integrated with a metaverse world called “The Battle Arena”. The platform not only allows gamers to play and battle but also offers an immersive experience of the metaverse. Users can deposit their holdings for a specific time period and receive additional benefits for other activities performed on the platform. The platform’s native token, IBAT, is used to distribute rewards to users. The IBAT Premier League is the world’s first decentralized blockchain NFT-based fantasy sports game that is integrated with the metaverse. Users can build their own team and compete against other users in this league.
Bloktopia is a decentralized metaverse that draws inspiration from the cyberpunk genre and is developed using the Unity engine. The virtual world of Bloktopia centers around a skyscraper with 21 levels. The first level serves as the central hub, while level 6 is designated for events such as concerts and presentations. The top level, called the Penthouse, is exclusively reserved for entertainment. Bloktopia’s native currency is $BLOK, and the metaverse relies heavily on Play-to-Earn games that offer both fungible and non-fungible tokens as rewards.
Unity is not a metaverse in itself like Decentraland, but rather a gaming development engine that helps other companies and individuals build their own metaverses. It currently powers the majority of mobile games and a significant portion of PC and console games, with over 2.5 billion people playing games developed with the Unity engine. Given that gaming is a popular entry point into the metaverse, Unity is well-positioned to be a key player in this space. The company is highly regarded in the gaming industry for its ability to bridge technology gaps and its ease of use. Its native C# programming language is widely known by most developers, and it offers a range of tools to create immersive experiences for any industry. Examples of Unity-powered metaverse games include Fantasy World and Bomb Crypto, which offer users the chance to explore different metaverses and earn rewards such as NFTs. With its ability to create VR/AR games, Unity is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the metaverse.
NFT Worlds is a decentralized, Minecraft-inspired metaverse project with 10,000 worlds. The world-building aspect of Minecraft is maintained, and holders of an NFT world can offer in-game, paid experiences for other users. All transactions are tied to in-game cryptocurrency WRLD. In May of 2022, NFT worlds broke its concurrent active players record (2,358) and surpassed 50,000 monthly active users.
Yuga Labs, the creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs and ApeCoin ($APE), have developed Otherside, an immersive multiplayer online gaming experience and metaverse. The platform aims to surpass the standard metaverse offerings by creating a “new frontier” for human interaction. Otherside provides users with open data kits to construct games and enhance their virtual land, while also granting them avatars to personalize their experiences. Within the metaverse, users can obtain land containing exclusive “artifacts” that cannot be replicated in conventional ways. Otherside’s native currency is ApeCoin ($APE).
Nvidia is a well-known company in the gaming industry for its graphical processing units, but it has also become prominent in the Metaverse market. Nvidia recently announced its first infrastructure-as-a-service offering, the NVIDIA Omniverse Cloud, which provides cloud services for development teams and artists to create and operate Metaverse apps. Many companies, including RIMAC Group, WPP, and Siemens, have already used Omniverse technology to build virtual environments. Nvidia’s Omniverse tool enhances communication and productivity, enabling collaboration on 3D models and fostering innovative creations related to the Metaverse. Many Metaverse companies, including Kroger, PepsiCo, and Amazon, are utilizing Omniverse to develop immersive experiences. Nvidia also launched NVIDIA OVX, allowing companies to run simulations within the Omniverse for creating 3D simulations of real environments.
Epic Games is known for developing the popular game Fortnite, and the company has raised $2 billion in investment from Sony Group Corporation and Kirkbi to help build the metaverse. Epic Games wants to create spaces where players can have fun with friends, brands can build immersive experiences, and creators can build a community. The company already has metaverse infrastructure in place with Unreal engine, a 3D graphic engine, and MetaHumans, a digital twin rendering software for generating metaverse avatars. Epic Games also provides an end-to-end digital ecosystem for developers and creators to build, distribute, and operate games and other content through the Epic Games Store and Epic Online Services. The company’s services extend to various industries, including film and television, architecture, automotive, manufacturing, and simulation.
Tech Giants Investing in the Metaverse
Meta is a metaverse company that was formerly known as Facebook. They announced their plan to create their own Metaverse to change the way users interact, work, play, and shop online. The company is currently focusing on developing affordable headsets and an immersive virtual world. Despite large losses, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has stated that they will lose more money before completing their goals for the Metaverse. Meta faces competition from other metaverse companies, such as Sandbox. They are also working on developing robotic ‘skin’ that utilizes sensors to provide feedback to users within the Metaverse. Meta’s goal is to have one billion people active in the Metaverse. They have opened the company’s first VR headset store and recently released their latest VR hardware, the Meta Quest Pro, for users to explore their Horizon Worlds.
Microsoft’s focus in the metaverse space is on developing work-based metaverse environments, such as Microsoft Mesh, rather than gaming. Microsoft Mesh is a mixed-reality overlay that facilitates immersive collaboration in virtual spaces for teams and can be accessed via mixed-reality glasses and VR headsets. Microsoft has been planning its metaverse efforts for a long time, as seen in its acquisition of social VR platform AltspaceVR in 2017 for use in Mesh. Microsoft has also been using its HoloLens to develop industrial metaverses, such as its partnership with Kawasaki to allow factory workers to utilize HoloLens to build robots and manage supply chains. The recent acquisition of gaming company Activision Blizzard is suggested to be partly motivated by a desire to build up gaming infrastructure for other metaverse projects.
Google is making efforts to get involved in the metaverse and is developing new technologies and products to contribute to it. Google has made several acquisitions to obtain AR/VR hardware solutions, and it is working on Google Iris and Starline projects to create gadgets that fully immerse users in virtual worlds. Google has also created several VR and AR products, such as Google Glass, Google Cardboard, and Google Daydream. Google’s Metaverse projects have pros, such as incredible processing capabilities and new communications technologies, but also cons, such as security concerns, issues with keeping children secure, and arising health issues. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has invested heavily in blockchain providers, and Google is collaborating with Coinbase to utilize its cloud services. Google’s upcoming Project Iris plans to create innovative AR glasses by 2024.
What are some examples of the metaverse in popular culture?
Nike heavily invested in the metaverse by creating Nikeland inside Roblox, which has attracted nearly 21 million visitors as of September 2022. Their digital revenues, including sales of NFTs in Nikeland, now make up 26% of the company’s overall revenues. Nike acquired RTFKT, a digital sneaker design studio, to expand their metaverse offerings. They also have a virtual store in Nikeland, where they sell Nike-branded virtual sneakers for over $100,000, and plan to launch clothing apparel soon.
Walmart has partnered with Roblox to create two metaverse experiences: Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play, featuring virtual music festivals, games, and merchandise that mimics what customers find in Walmart stores. Walmart is experimenting with shoppable recipes, augmented reality features for furniture, and other ways to reach shoppers. Walmart sees Roblox as a testing ground for other moves in the metaverse and beyond, and is looking to learn from the partnership to drive relevance in cultural conversations and brand favorability with younger audiences. Walmart could make money from immersive experiences in the future by charging brands for inclusion or turning virtual experiences into real-world store visits or online purchases.
Adidas has entered the metaverse with its first NFT products, which were announced in December 2021 and generated around $22 million within hours of being on sale. The company teamed up with Bored Ape Yacht Club, PUNKs Comic, and gmoney for the project. Adidas Originals has released multiple NFT collections, including “Into the Metaverse,” a collection of 30,000 digital collectibles that grant holders access to exclusive physical merchandise and digital utility. Adidas is expanding its operation, establishing a new creative studio and launching a council to strengthen their efforts and lay the groundwork for future success in the metaverse.
Shopify is investing heavily in AR shopping capabilities and is partnering with UK-based AR platform Poplar Studio to offer the service for $49 per month. According to Shopify’s e-commerce trend report for 2023, commerce is moving to the metaverse and innovations that make the metaverse possible could give early adopters an edge over the competition. The company believes that interacting with customers in virtual worlds will become commonplace, and technological developments are making this prediction more likely. Additionally, the augmented and mixed reality market is rapidly growing, with one in three shoppers already using VR to shop. Shopify is also bullish on NFTs, enabling its merchants to sell Avalanche NFTs through the Venly app.