An Overview of the Metaverse: What is it and Why Does it Matter

“The metaverse,” which is a combination of the words “meta-” and “universe,” refers to a hypothetical iteration of the internet that supports permanent online 3-D virtual worlds using ordinary personal computer devices, as well as virtual and augmented reality headgear. Metaverses are already existent in some form on platforms such as VRChat and video games such as Second Life, although in a limited capacity.

Increasingly complicated user interactions will be generated as the Metaverse grows in size, well beyond current technology capabilities. Users in the Metaverse will be able to immerse themselves in a world where the digital and physical worlds collide, rather than just viewing digital content on a screen. The word started to spread when rumors circulated in mid-October 2021 about a Facebook rebrand — complete with a new name — to honor the company’s devotion to the Metaverse. According to unnamed sources, an announcement might be made shortly, according to writer Casey Newton.

On October 28, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new Meta name at the Connect 2021 conference, with its new website describing it as a “social technology firm.”

“You’ll be able to do practically everything you can imagine in the Metaverse — spend time with friends and family, work, study, play, shop, and create — as well as wholly new experiences that don’t match how we think; about computers or phones today… In the future, you will be able to teleport as a hologram to the workplace without having to travel, to a performance with friends, or to your parents’ living room to catch up,“ Zuckerberg said in his 2021 Founder’s Letter.

Understanding the Metaverse

Facebook has been talking about the Metaverse since October 17, 2021, when it said it is “a new age of interconnected virtual experiences powered by virtual and augmented reality technologies.”

The idea is that through improving one’s “virtual presence,” online communication may become more like in-person interaction.”

The Metaverse’s popularity is projected to skyrocket as investors and corporations want to be a part of what might be the next big thing.

Before announcing the name change, Zuckerberg told technology site The Verge that the Metaverse is “going to be a significant priority [of Facebook’s], and I believe that this is going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the Internet grows after the mobile Internet.” “And I believe that will be the next great chapter for our firm as well, really doubling down in this area.”

Proponents of the Metaverse see it as the next step in the evolution of the internet. Facebook, for example, has already made significant investments in AR and VR, building gear such as its Oculus VR headsets, while AR glasses and wristband technologies are in development.

According to Zuckerberg, who thinks AR glasses will one day be as standard as smartphones, Facebook will “essentially shift from people perceiving us as mainly a social media business to being a metaverse company” over the next few years.

Special Considerations

Many science fiction literature, television shows, and films are set in metaverses, digital realms indistinguishable from reality.

Science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash first used the word “metaverse.”

Human avatars and software agents interact in a three-dimensional virtual realm in the book. These sci-fi metaverses are often dismal places. Some of Zuckerberg’s colleagues are worried that the real-life Metaverse — the “next-gen Internet” — will turn into a dystopian nightmare.

In a blog post, Niantic CEO John Hanke, for example, said, “Many individuals, including some of the most prominent names in technology and gaming, seem to be highly interested in bringing this near-future concept of a virtual world to life. These tales, however, functioned as forewarnings of a dystopian future of technology gone awry.”

Niantic is a software company best known for creating the augmented reality smartphone apps Ingress and Pokémon Go.

The COVID-19 epidemic heightened interest in the Metaverse as more individuals worked from home and attended education online.

Of course, there are fears that, even in a post-COVID era, the Metaverse will make it much simpler for individuals to spend time apart.

Hanke said, “We think that we can utilize technology to lean into the ‘reality of augmented reality, urging everyone, including ourselves, to get up, go outdoors, and engage with people and the environment around us. Primary human experiences should be improved by technology rather than replaced by them.”

What Is the Facebook Metaverse?

Because there is no one originator (or definition) of the Metaverse, it is not something that Facebook owns or is entirely responsible for creating.

Nonetheless, Facebook has already made significant investments in the Metaverse with its Oculus VR headsets, and it is working on AR glasses and wristband technology. The corporation made a $50 million investment in worldwide research and program partners in September 2021 to guarantee that metaverse technology to be developed ethically.

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An Overview of the Metaverse: What is it and Why Does it Matter was originally published in The Capital on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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