What is the metaverse?

In futurism and science fiction, the metaverse is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world facilitated by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. Many experts regard the Metaverse as a 3D model of the Internet. Basically, a place parallel to the physical world where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar and interact with them via their avatars.

Some also argue that the metaverse does not actually exist yet in the truest sense of the term. Still, the idea of a Ready Player One like uniform space called “The Metaverse” is still largely impossible. Given its high-quality forecast, the Metaverse is touted as a key player in the growth of the digital economy. Decentraland is an online VR platform similar to Roblox that allows you to use cryptocurrency to buy virtual real estate as NFTs, although despite the narratives that drive many platforms, there is no obvious reason why a plot of land purchased today in a particular game would be in the Metaverse of the future, in which virtual land is unlikely to be scarce.

In many of the Metaverse visualizations presented by Meta and its managing director Mark Zuckerberg, you are a playful avatar working at your real desk, but surrounded by avatars or holograms (3D images) of your colleagues shining in from their desks. The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that are synchronously and permanently served by an effectively unlimited number of users with individual sense of presence and continuity of data such as identity, history, permissions, objects, communication, and payments. It fulfills many of the roles that have been envisioned for the Metaverse of the Future, and has been since its inception. There has been no broad adoption of a standardized technical specification for Metaverse implementations, and existing implementations are primarily based on proprietary technology.

In addition to marketing puff pieces and proof-of-concept demos, metaverse-like virtual worlds have actually existed for almost as long as their fictional counterparts. Another big difference is the primary use of VR hardware to interact in the metaverse version of the film, as some experts believe that VR is used less overall compared to AR hardware (not emphasized in the movie). In a sense, Roblox is partly a game and part a social media network, but it’s also halfway between something like Facebook and what the Metaverse promises to be. The metaverse that Mark Zuckerberg wants to create is not a great virtual experience, but the next version of the Internet.

Chris Barter, co-founder of the King River Capital Venture Fund, which invests in metaverse-friendly Australian companies like Splash and crypto gaming team Immutable, believes that almost every element of entertainment will end up in the Metaverse along with huge amounts of trading. This is the Metaverse, the next evolution of connected life that many expect to replace the mobile Internet led by smartphones.

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About the Author: Metaverse Editor