The Metaverse Is Still Waiting to Be Defined by@michaelfaith

The Metaverse Is Still Waiting to Be Defined

On August 6, 1991, the first-ever website went live. There are over 1.7 billion websites on the Internet. Facebook recently announced the company would be rebranding to **Meta** to make a better representation of what the company is working toward. The Metaverse is a digital space of digital representations by people, inhabited by digital representations. Users in the Metaverse will be able to immerse themselves in digital content rather than simply viewing it. It's clear that the metaverse will radically change how we're able to interact online, how brands advertise.
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Michael Faith

I write articles on Technology (Blockchain etc), History, and Science


On August 6, 1991, the first-ever website went live. In 2005, the first video on YouTube titled “me at the zoo" was uploaded on the site. Two years later, the now ubiquitous smartphone was released, heralding the advent of some new technologies and the app revolution.


Fast forward to today, there are over 1.7 billion websites on the Internet, and we now have millions of YouTubers with a wider reach of information being disseminated easily. Throughout history, from electricity to telephones to automobiles to computers and the Internet, technology has made leaps that have created entirely new industries and economies. Another jump is happening as you read this article. It is called the METAVERSE, and it will change how everything works.


The metaverse is officially a game-changer. Although it is still in its infancy, it's clear that the metaverse will radically change how we're able to interact online, how brands advertise, how fast crypto is adopted, how we react to technological devices, etc.


The technology recently gained fame when the CEO of Facebook announced the company would be rebranding to Meta to make a better representation of what the company is working toward and the company’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.


N.B.: It is important to note that “Facebook” now “Meta” does not own the Metaverse. The metaverse, like the Internet, is not owned by anyone, but you can build your product on it.


Home page of the first-ever website launched by Tim Berners-Lee.

Home page of the first-ever website launched by Tim Berners-Lee.


Photo Source: Business Insider, 2011.


What is the Metaverse?

The word “Metaverse” is a portmanteau of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and “universe.” The prefix “meta” is derived from the Greek μετά, which encompasses a wide array of meanings, such as "future," "after," "on top of," and "beyond." In general, meta- can also denote a change of place or state, as in metamorphosis.


Defining the Metaverse today is comparable to defining the internet in the early 90s; there was no social media, no content creators, no trading platforms, etc. So technically, the metaverse is what we build on it; it sits at the crossroads of Web 3.0, Blockchain, Augmented and Virtual Reality.


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Photo Source: Global Coin Research.


But the metaverse “to come” is broadly defined as the blending of physical and digital spaces or a persistent shared 3D virtual space linked into a perceived virtual universe, and it’s the next phase of the internet. The users in the metaverse will be able to immerse themselves in digital content rather than simply viewing it.


Simply put, a Metaverse is a digital space inhabited by digital representations of people, places, and things. Think of it as a new or upgraded version of the internet. Many people talk about the internet as a place we can only interact with devices like smartphones and tablets, etc.


But with the metaverse, we can go into that place to communicate, share spaces, and work with others. It’s an Internet that you interact with like we do in the physical world. Mark Zuckerberg simply describes the Metaverse as “the internet you are inside of rather than just looking at it.”


Key components that will make up the Metaverse are:


  1. Avatars: They are 3D representations of users, and they can have any physical characteristic or personality. So in the future, we’ll have digital avatars or one avatar for ourselves.


  2. Technological components: Headsets for virtual reality, IoT, smart glasses, etc.


If we look at Web 1.0, when the Internet first started, it only connected us to information. Then came Web 2.0, we got social media, and now we have connections to information and people. With Web 3.0, where the Metaverse belongs, the internet will connect us to information, people, places, and things.


BRIEF HISTORY

The term “metaverse” was first coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992 in his dystopian science fiction novel titled “Snow Crash,” where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional (3D) virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world, an embodiment of the internet, and an escape from reality.


In April 2020, Travis Scott and Marshmello performed the first virtual reality concert in the video game Fortnite to just under 30 million people. In August 2021, Ariana Grande also hosted a concert on Fortnite. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the world forever, expect more music artists to hold virtual concerts, whether inside games or on other digital platforms and make their own journey to the metaverse.


What Does It Mean to “Build in the Metaverse”?

As we now know, the metaverse is defined as a unified 3D virtual world where users can come together via their digital identities (i.e., avatars) and perform complex interactions.


After Facebook rebranded as Meta, simultaneously, tech giants and other companies started announcing their projects on the platform. Apple, Nvidia, Epic Games, Microsoft, Niantic, Nike, Samsung, etc. have decided to pour millions of dollars into this technology. Facebook is already building “Horizon Worlds,” a social virtual reality application where you can meet people in the virtual world, Microsoft is already building what they call “Mesh: the enterprise of the metaverse.”


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Photo Source: Microsoft


But what exactly does it mean to build the metaverse? Unlike most virtual reality apps, the metaverse isn’t a single software platform that can be built using your usual agile development model.


Instead, it is a complex digital environment that relies on seven distinct layers (suggested by Jon Radoff, author of Building the Metaverse blog):


  1. Infrastructure: Connectivity technologies like 5G, Wi-Fi, cloud, and high-tech materials like GPUs.
  2. Human interfaces: VR headsets, AR glasses, haptics, and other technologies users will leverage to join the metaverse.
  3. Decentralization: Blockchain, artificial intelligence, edge computing, and other tools of democratization.
  4. Spatial Computing: 3D visualization and Modelling frameworks.
  5. Creator economy: An assortment of design tools, digital assets, and e-commerce establishments.
  6. Discovery: The content engine driving engagement, including ads, social media, ratings, reviews, etc.
  7. Experiences: VR equivalents of digital apps for gaming, events, work, shopping, etc.


And here is the fun part: There are currently 160+ companies operating across these seven verticals, and they are all building products for the Metaverse.


The future mobile phones will be Smart glasses, not Smartphones.

The future mobile phones will be Smart glasses, not Smartphones.

Photo Source: Avi Barel


Conclusion

As Satya Nadella said, “The whole idea of the metaverse comes as we increasingly embed computing into the real world; with the metaverse, you can now embed the real world into computing.”


Companies like Facebook and Microsoft have set themselves up as driving forces behind the development of the Metaverse, and Facebook in particular has a huge stake in virtual reality.


Who would have guessed 15 years ago that we would be staring at our smartphone screens for at least 5 hours a day and be completely dependent on this technology? The metaverse will most likely emerge over time as new products and services emerge and connect with one another.


Metaverse is not something far in the distant future; it’s happening right now on a daily basis, and it’s growing fast. It’s only a matter of time before this technology becomes mainstream.



Also published here.

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