You’ve seen the ads. We’ve all seen the ads. Facebook became Meta, and they let us know all about the new digital revolution called the metaverse with a series of fast-paced cuts that left some of us intrigued, some of us cold, and some of us skeptical.
But Facebook/Meta isn’t the only player in the metaverse. Big companies like Microsoft, Disney, and Epic have already become involved and invested. Other software companies are getting excited, hustling to position themselves as architects of the metaverse. Everyone’s got their finger on the pulse.
The question arises, for those of us in the peripherals of all this — what will the metaverse mean for me? How is it going to change what I do this year? And what about the future to come?
The answer is, it’s up to you. But here are some of the things I’m getting ready for this year: ways to work and live in 2022.
Put on your VR headsets and your Google Glass frames — the world of virtual and augmented reality isn’t just a possibility, it’s already here.
While most view VR headsets as primarily for gamers, there are already plenty of non-game experiences to give the headset a try. To be honest, I don’t think that immersive VR is going to change how we live and work this year. But in non-immersive applications, it’s already made a difference to how we view and purchase products, and even how we communicate — just look at the rise of communications platforms like Zoom, and it gives you a glimpse of the near future.
Augmented and mixed reality has already been put in place throughout some popular internet sites — think the Shop tab on Pinterest, or shoppable posts on Instagram and other social media platforms.
This is a clear example of how simple the change to the metaverse can happen, and how it can have an impact on day-to-day activities — even without us realizing it.
The metaverse concept, according to Facebook, is specifically about fostering connections with people, and I can see this impacting how we interact even this year. (In fact, if you’re already a Meta user, it’s having an impact on you right now.)
We spend time on social media, on Zoom, reflecting ourselves in our most authentic digital form. I, for one, am getting pretty tired of Zoom. This isn’t a revolutionary opinion, and I’m not alone. But if the metaverse is all about connecting virtually, doesn’t that mean that we’re doomed to a lifetime of unsociable black squares and colleagues forgetting to turn the sound off when they head for the restroom?
Not necessarily. Just look at the advent of events that are held in virtual spaces, such as the birthday parties in online gaming spheres, and a clearer picture of the possibilities begins to emerge. Imagine the convenience of a Zoom work meeting but everyone is represented by avatars. The PowerPoints are shared directly to your account. Even physical objects, such as prototypes, can be experienced as though they are really there.
The only thing you have to provide for yourself is the coffee.
The ability to interact virtually with anyone, anywhere, anytime, can be hugely beneficial. And being able to share virtual objects and experiences puts us in the same world, virtually speaking, no matter where we are. I see this becoming a norm for business communications and bringing us closer to our friends in faraway places.
In a world coming off of two years of social distancing and pandemic isolation, I see the connectivity and availability skyrocketing with the advent of the metaverse.
As a serial entrepreneur who has developed and owns a variety of brands such as logo generators, SaaS products, etc. I have some perspective on developing creative business strategies for the future. But in this case, it isn’t just about planning for a niche market or figuring out what your target audience needs next. This time, it’s about developing for the metaverse. This requires a whole different set of strategizing skills because we can’t just think about pitching the product. We have to think about the entire presentation of the product and interaction with the client — all done virtually.
The extra challenge with this, however, is that it isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between our real-world selves and our virtual selves. The metaverse is a gigantic opportunity to explore — not just the virtual world, but the possibilities that lie within ourselves.
It’s our chance to choose not only our surroundings but also details about ourselves. More than just choosing our avatar, we can see what our lives would look like if we had different preferences, different environments, different circumstances, different everything.
The more we think about the possibilities, the more exciting it gets. From a business perspective, it requires rethinking the approach to the consumer based on the assumption that they will be more open to exploring outside their comfort zone. That’s what the metaverse is all about — getting rid of the comfort zone.
As we move forward with creatively crafting products and brands for the metaverse, the entire foundation of market research and demographic-based assumptions will shift. We’ll be pitching to the other versions of our customers, the fraternal twins who may look the same but won’t necessarily respond the way we expect.
This brings me to my fourth and final way in which I’m preparing to let the metaverse change my life, starting this year: adding scope to my horizons and extra dimensions to my dreams.
A virtual universe has long been the stuff of science fiction. The term “metaverse” was even coined by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson back in 1992), in his novel Snow Crash. The concept has existed far longer than that, but as we move ahead with the next iteration of the internet, it’s no longer just the stuff that dreams are made of. The metaverse will impact how you work, how you communicate, how you make purchasing decisions, and gradually many other aspects of your life — and it’s all starting now.
So, how will the metaverse change the way you work and live in 2022?
Photo credit: istock.com/photoman