You may have heard that Mark Zuckerberg and his army of faceless genii have recently changed the name of Facebook, to Meta. Why? Well, Zuckerberg believes that the future (and by proxy yours and mine) will be spent largely in the Metaverse. But what actually is the Metaverse? Definitions abound, but it may be worth going to the big man himself.
What actually is the Metaverse?
There is no single definition of the Metaverse. Indeed, the term is not of Facebook’s making, and was in fact first coined by the novelist Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash’. In it, Stephenson describes a world of people represented by 3D avatars that interact intelligently in another, virtual world. You could think of the Metaverse as a ‘Virtual Universe’. To the IT nerd or the Sci-fi enthusiast – it brings with it the promise of a realised dream, the endgame of the internet, a world of unimagined possibility. So why not call it a Virtual Universe? Because it will become so, so much more than that.
Get Strapped in! The Metaverse is going to be Huuuge.
At this stage, the Metaverse is still a concept, but we can be confident that it really is going to be a life-changing development very soon. No, it’s not the Matrix, but it will also be a far cry from ‘Second Life’ and anything that has gone before it. What is more important than definitions is what the Metaverse will be made up of. And whilst no one can tell to what it will evolve into, we know it will include the following:
1. Virtual Reality in a Virtual World.
Ultimately, we humans are social beings and love virtually (pun intended) anything that brings us closer to others. This is why grandma, who a few years ago didn’t even have a working knowledge of what the internet was, is now hitting up your Facebook wall and sharing memes with you. The Metaverse will be made up of people from across the globe because anything that improves communication and connection with others succeeds. Think about it – over 60s are now the largest demographic that use Facebook! Why? Because family is important, and connection is vital.
Why did Tinder take off? Because it helped people to meet potential dates and partners. Well, imagine having a first date with someone virtually. It probably can’t get any safer or real without actually being real. If people of all ages are going wild over TikTok trends in 2D, imagine what 3D will be like! Not convinced? 90% of communication is non-verbal i.e body language. In this, and many other ways, the Metaverse will improve our ability to communicate and interact with each other. This will have profound implications for all aspects of life, across everything from love to business.
3. Real World Connection in the Metaverse
In the Metaverse, we could operate a real mining vehicle, in a mine, virtually and remotely. Doctors could guide operations remotely and holographically. Imagine going to a comedy show, sitting in the audience, and seeing the show, live, and being able to interact with others, whilst not actually being there. What will customer service and Chatbots become? And gaming? The mind boggles!
It’s not just that what we do in the real world can to some extent be replicated virtually, but that what we do virtually can be replicated in the real world. Like the ever-vastness of the Universe, the implications and opportunities for the Metaverse are endless.