What is the Metaverse? Is it a video game everyone has taken a bit too far? Or is it the future of the internet that we all must deal with? Or is it just a hangout space that doesn’t involve us getting dressed and walking out the door?
Ever since Facebook rebranded to “Meta” in late 2021, everyone and their mothers have been wondering what that even means. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t gotten much clearer with time. But to be fair, the Metaverse is still too young to have a clear definition or pathway.
So, What is the Metaverse?
For starters, the metaverse is still a vision. A vision that experts believe may be a duplication of the internet— a shared virtual space where everyone could experience life in a way they cannot physically.
On the other hand, companies use the term metaverse to refer to many different types of improved online environments. For example, online video games like Fortnite, and fledgling virtual workplaces like Microsoft’s Mesh or Meta’s Horizon Workrooms. Not to mention virtual dressing rooms for digital fashion and virtual operating rooms. Rather than a single shared virtual space, the current version of the metaverse is shaping up as a multiverse.
How to access the Metaverse?
When experts talk about the development and growth of the metaverse, they talk of two technologies— AR & VR.
Virtual Reality is indicated by constant virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you’re not playing. Haptics like gloves, vests, and even full-body tracking suits, enable more lifelike interaction with the virtual environment.
Augmented reality combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. It’s less immersive than VR and allows users to still interact with the real world via a special lens. Pokemon Go and Knightfall AR are examples of AR games.
However, you don’t need to access those spaces exclusively via VR or AR. Virtual worlds—such as aspects of Fortnite that can be accessed through PCs, game consoles, and even phones—have started referring to themselves as “the metaverse.”
The Metaverse and NFTs
NFTs seem to be playing a big role in the popularity of the metaverse. Take Metaverse Group for example. They call themselves “the world’s first virtual real estate company.” They act as a broker that enables the purchase or rental of property or land in several virtual worlds. Think of Decentraland, SandBox, and many other NFT Games.
Metaverse Group is one of the companies that only came out after the Metaverse. But what about the brands we’ve known and loved for years? How are they joining the trend?
One of the most prominent examples is Nike. In December 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT—a startup that makes one-of-a-kind virtual sneakers and digital relics using NFTs, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality.
“NFTs and blockchain lay the groundwork for digital ownership,” said Nick Donarski, co-founder of Ore System, an online community of gamers, content creators, and game developers. “Ownership of one’s real-world identity will carry over to the metaverse, and NFTs will be this vehicle.” —Techtarget.com
As we’ve previously stated, there is still a whole bunch of possibilities, not a stable reality. On the one hand, are those who believe the metaverse will enhance our lives, enabling experiences we could not have in the physical world. On the other hand, are the doubters who believe it’ll boost current social media ills, broaden disinformation campaigns, and deepen addictive behavior.
Like any other technology we’ve ever known, the metaverse is a double-edged sword and only time will reveal its true colors.