What is the Metaverse?
Meta is defined as meaning “more comprehensive” and a universe is defined as everything related to time and space.
How can you have a “metaverse”? Can a “more comprehensive universe” be a real thing? Probably not, but here we are.
Instead of defining it as the two literal meanings combined, the Metaverse is virtual and involves combining digital technologies across products and services.
Unfortunately, there is no single definition or concept behind this new realm of technology. It is one of those things that we will have to see to understand.
It is, however, categorized as “the next iteration of the internet” designed to bring the digital and physical realms together.
You may already see it happening with advertisements online. For instance: You search for laundry detergent on Google.
The next ads you see on social media sites are related to laundry detergent. The idea is to take that to a new level.
It has also been seen in augmented reality, or AR glasses and virtual reality, or VR headgear, as well as other devices and smartphone apps.
It is partially about bringing together virtual communities for endless activities such as trying on clothes or attending concerts or sporting events.
If you have ever used a beauty website or an eyeglasses website to try on makeup, hair color, and styles, or glasses, you have already engaged with the lower tier of the Metaverse.
Key Metaverse Statistics & Facts
- $10 billion has already been invested in the Metaverse by Meta (Facebook)’s Reality Labs segment
- 10,000 jobs will be created over a five-year period
- The science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’ coined the “Metaverse” phrase in 1992
- It is a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality
- The Metaverse market size is predicted to reach as much as $800 billion by 2024
- It was worth $46 billion in 2020
- It is considered the ‘future’ by Meta (Facebook) and many others
- The word ‘Metaverse’ means ‘beyond the universe’
Metaverse Market Size
There are many people that are interested in the Metaverse, as it is seen as the next big thing in the world of technology.
There are predictions out there that Metaverse could reach the $800 billion mark by 2024, as it is already sitting at the $47 billion mark thanks to a surge of interest in 2020 when the pandemic peaked.
There are even some out there that believe that it is worth more right now – $500 billion, to be exact, according to Bloomberg, which makes $47 billion look like chump change.
Beyond the $800 billion prediction, some think that Metaverse could reach $1 trillion in annual revenue, according to a report by Grayscale.
This is thanks to some early predictions of where the Metaverse is headed, for example, there have been sections of virtual land being sold for more than $2 million.
Right now, there is a heavy emphasis on the Metaverse being prudent for gaming, but it is set to expand. Predictions lie with the Metaverse growing in the gaming world to become a $400 billion-dollar business by 2025. It was sitting at around $180 billion in 2020.
What is the Difference Between AR and VR Technology?
Virtual Reality, VR, requires using special headgear and people using it are controlled by the system.
Augmented Reality, AR, is where sounds, visuals, and other sensory elements create stimuli to create a real-world environment in a safe space used to heighten the user’s experience.
It is sometimes used for therapy, and can easily be used via a smartphone. The users are able to control their presence in this environment.
What Does This Mean to the Online Realm?
As the Metaverse concept evolves, there will be online spaces where interactions become even more multidimensional than today’s existing technology.
So, instead of just looking at digital content, you could immerse yourself in a place where the physical and digital worlds merge. It will just take the newer technology to support it.
More than that, it plans to create an economic realm of digital and physical elements, as well as the ability to transfer digital assets and avatars across various spaces in the Metaverse.
Each company can work in its own space inside the Metaverse, making it a decentralization concept.
Real-time effects are expected to play a large role in the new Metaverse. It will change the face of content creation, virtual economies, presence.
Privacy, avatar identity, accountability, security, and trust. From this perspective, this is essentially an ecosystem all its own.
When Did This Idea Start?
Back in 1992, “Snow Crash”, a science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, used the term “Metaverse” to describe a place where humans, acting as avatars, engaged with one another.
It refers to the digital universe that is accessed via VR technology. It has also played a major role in other science fiction works, such as the Matrix movies.
These science fiction works are likely the inspiration for this new “Metaverse” upon which the founders of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), Google, (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), and Amazon (Jeff Bezos) have based this concept.
Zuckerberg has made reference to this concept over the past year, and it’s gained a lot of attention on the global level.
Where is The Metaverse Idea Going?
You likely know about the announcement in October 2021 by Zuckerberg at the Facebook Connect AR/VR conference that he is rebranding Facebook to Meta.
It shows the ambitious desires to create this convergence of the physical and digital worlds.
The other social apps, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger will likely keep their names, but will fall under the Meta umbrella.
Even Oculus will be rebranding to the Meta brand for at least some of their VR offerings. We should soon be getting news about reporting the financial aspects of this business.
This is also believed to be opening doors for fintech solutions to play a role in this new realm of digital iteration.
That would make sense because fintech is behind innovations used on Google and Amazon making things easier for consumers and businesses to connect and make transactions online.
As a matter of fact, since the pandemic, statistics show that 88% of consumers in the US are using fintech.
It is important to note that the “Metaverse” is not owned by any one person or company. There is no single creator, or developer.
It has been a collaboration and will be something companies and people will continually manipulate to their needs. At least that is supposed to be the idea behind it, to some extent.
What is the Metaverse Outlook?
Reality Labs has invested 10 billion dollars into their Metaverse division, and has been and will be creating content, software, and hardware for AR and VR use.
For example, this technology will play a primary role in creating VR Virtual Workrooms and Meetings where users will wear VR headsets to ‘gather in person’ for meetings.
There are even plans to introduce Ray-Ban eyewear that will be able to record videos. There are many projects in the workings as the Metaverse rolls out, and likely there will be many more to come.
It will take a ‘village’ to collaborate and develop the Metaverse.
It will take the collaboration of creators, policymakers, companies, etc. across the globe to bring this together. The plan is to create at least 10,000 jobs just in the EU alone over a 5-year period.
Companies that are currently investing in the Metaverse concept include:
You can also expect to see this technology supported by AI (artificial intelligence), edge, cloud computing, and 5G networks.
This new 3D Metaverse will create enhanced experiences in games such as Roblox and Fortnite. Even Nvidia is getting in on the deal.
All technology comes with benefits and concerns. Some of these benefits and concerns are addressed below.
There is a lot of potential within the Metaverse idea. The perfect application of this concept would let users experience almost any activity, and so it can potentially be used for just about anything.
Virtual offices allow users to engage in a 3D space that mimics a real office environment.
You may have already seen this in Microsoft Mesh and Facebook Horizons Workrooms, but these are merely first-tier level applications. The idea is to allow workers to work from anywhere.
It is thought that one of the intentions is to provide a more intense and immersive way to take field trips anywhere in the world and anywhere in history.
There are already current developments happening in regard to educational uses.
Real Estate Applications
If you have ever engaged in a virtual tour of a home, imagine the Metaverse version of 3D immersive, realistic virtual home tours.
It would open up the world to people looking to live in other countries and a new market for real estate agents and brokers across the globe.
We cannot forget that brick-and-mortar businesses can play their part in the Metaverse. Virtual environments that mimic their actual stores and offices offer one application.
Another way they can use the Metaverse is to enhance their customers’ shopping experience. 3-D virtual shopping is an upgrade from what the Internet and online shopping venues offer today.
While privacy is supposed to be better in the Metaverse, information privacy is actually a big concern in this upcoming new iteration.
The potential for companies to collect the personal information of users within this construct via their interactions and wearables is of concern.
Facebook itself has already made plans to use targeted advertising within the Metaverse, which has raised more concerns over the loss of privacy and the spread of misinformation.
Becoming addicted to using this technology is yet another concern if past statistics are anything to go by.
The results have produced physical and mental disorders from the prolonged use of technology.
The concern here is that prolonged use of the Metaverse will cause even more depression, obesity, and anxiety than the current technological addictions do.
Just the fact that it could be used as an escape from one’s reality is a concern among experts.
Finally, the concern is that the Metaverse may amplify the dispersion in society through media dissolution and the online echo chambers.
The belief is that the Metaverse may analytically customize virtual realms based on individual beliefs, and distort the perceptions of users through highly biased content designed to keep them engaged and enthralled.
The Metaverse, like all other forms of technology, is going to come with good and bad applications and intentions due to the potential in changing the way we shop, do business, meet, enjoy entertainment, play games, make money, market trading, etc.
This whole Metaverse idea could basically reinvent the whole culture of the world at large.
But, it is coming, no matter how people feel about it.
We try to consider it to be like any other technological innovation. It can be used for good, so it has potential.
How this works out remains to be seen. You have now learned what the Metaverse is, how it plans to work, its applications, and the concerns revolving around it.
You get to make up your own mind.