You’ve got a busy day planned. First, you have 9:00 a.m. breakfast with your sister in Germany. Then it’s off to Japan for your 11:15 a.m. business meeting. However, you’re most looking forward to the end of the workday when you head to New York City for a concert performed by your favorite artist.
Seem impossible? It may not be in the not-so-distant future of the metaverse. While buzz surrounding the term is relatively new, the actual word itself dates to 1992 when Neal Stephenson first used the term in his science fiction novel (Molina & Snider, 2022). However, as the term gains popularity with developing technology and investment from massive corporations, key questions remain for many individuals.
Certainly not the least important of these questions:
What exactly is the metaverse?
In simple terms, the metaverse is an alternate reality to our current world. It is the culmination of several layers of technology that will allow individuals to spend daily life connected online in virtual reality, instead of real life. According to an article in The New York Times (2022), the metaverse combines technology of virtual reality and gaming.
An article by USA Today (2022) suggests that individuals interacting through this technology will join a computing platform and upon donning virtual reality headsets, will be able to experience a 3-D world. Communities will develop through communication via microphones and as participants interact with virtual objects. The metaverse, as it is described today, will allow for work, play, and everything in between.
What does the metaverse look like today?
While technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming provide steps towards the metaverse, the interconnected community has not yet been realized. In fact, this transformation of the current state of the Internet is a process that Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, believes will require another 10 to 15 years of development.
Recent developments in technology such as high-speed broadband, virtual reality headsets, and online worlds have allowed for strides towards the creation of the metaverse. Indeed, predecessors that feature various aspects of the metaverse are common in society today. All you need to experience these elements is to try out the Oculus VR set (recently acquired by Meta). Another option is to spend some time playing Fortnite as Epic Games works to develop realistic digital humans (Molina & Snider, 2022).
Other examples of stages of the development of the metaverse have been around for longer periods of time. In fact, look no further than Minecraft or Second Life gaming to see examples of how humans might one day interact in the metaverse.
Because of the potential for this technology to become all-encompassing of everyday life, it’s important to know about the key players involved in its development.
Who is building the metaverse?
Companies such as Meta and Microsoft are leading the way in construction of a virtual world. Gaming organizations such as Epic Games and Roblox are also providing their own input (Molina & Snider, 2022). However, upper management for Meta suggested in a company announcement that construction of the metaverse is a project that will require input from a variety of parties.
Indeed, Meta has pledged a $50 million investment to responsibly fund development of the metaverse (Bosworth & Clegg, 2021). The company plans to partner with institutions ranging from governments and industry experts, to education and research institutions around the world.
So, what does this mean for the current state of the metaverse? In short, it could be coming soon but there’s work left to be done. This work will require the collaboration of many parties and will likely not be attributed to a single organization.
Stay tuned…. You might just make it home to your bed after that late night concert.
Bosworth, A. & Clegg, N. (2021, September 27). Building the metaverse responsibly. Meta. https://about.fb.com/news/2021/09/building-the-metaverse-responsibly/
Chen, B. X. (2022, January 18). What’s all the hype about the metaverse? The New York Times. https://metaverse.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/technology/personaltech/metaverse-gaming-definition.html
Molina, B. & Snider, M. (2022, January 20). Everyone wants to own the metaverse including Facebook and Microsoft. But what exactly is it? USA Today. https://metaverse.usatoday.com/story/tech/2021/11/10/metaverse-what-is-it-explained-facebook-microsoft-meta-vr/6337635001/