In recent months, much has been said about the Metaverse, since Facebook changed its name to Meta, we have entered a new gold rush, to find out which company will be able to reach the dreamed Metaverse first. But after all, what does Metaverse mean, and how will it impact your life?
What is Metaverse?
In 1992, Neal Stephenson, an American writer of speculative fiction, wrote the book Snow Crash. In the book, characters exist and interact in a totally virtual world, through avatars (representative fictional characters). This entire incredible virtual world imagined by Stephenson was named the Metaverse, and thus came the first use of that word.
Going back to the present day, on October 28, 2021, Facebook, together with its creator Mark Zuckerberg, announced what the company expects for the Metaverse, its Virtual World where people will be able to live, work, relate, and even die. With that, Facebook changes its name and is now called Meta.
In reality, in a quick and practical way, Metaverso is a world where you are 100% immersed in technology, where it is not possible to separate or distinguish between technology and the Real World. But what we have seen in terms of Metaverse ideas, in general, is still very speculative, we are still presented with technologies that we already know and have full contact with, such as VR Technology.
No, VR is not Metaverse
For many people, VR (Virtual Reality) has always seemed like something out of this world. In cinema or in fiction stories, VR is always used to give the idea of something very futuristic, we have great examples, such as the famous Tron and Sword Art Online. But what we do know is that VR is far from futuristic and even innovative. In 1961 Philco engineers created the first VR helmet similar to what we know today, called Headsight. With that, we are talking about a technology that has been going on for over 60 years and still hasn’t managed to become accessible and common to the entire population.
Because it is a very old technology, it is very difficult for VR to be used in the Metaverse, because in addition to being outdated, it is a very expensive and inaccessible technology. Good VR glasses, in Brazil, can cost from R$ 2,000 to R$ 5,000, which makes it unfeasible for everyone to use the technology. For VR to be used in the Metaverse, it needs to evolve a lot and become a lot cheaper.
AR, is it Metaverse?
AR or Augmented Reality is much closer to being in the Metaverse than VR. As it is a much more accessible technology that has already been tested worldwide, it is almost certain that we will have more and more experiences with the use of AR. Pokémon GO is the best example of the worldwide use of this technology, where it is possible to see Pokémon (little digital monsters) fully inserted into our Real World.
Accessibility is a key factor for any technology to be accepted by society. Smartphones, the internet, and even televisions have become phenomena for their accessibility, allowing practically every person on the planet to be able to have one of these devices, and when I talk about accessibility, I am referring to the issue of value, and really important resources for society.
If it’s not for everyone, it won’t work.
Steve Jobs, creator of Apple, and the famous Billgates, creator of Microsoft, have always had the main goal of bringing their products to everyone. At the beginning of Microsoft, Billgates’ main goal was to make every person in the United States have a computer in their home. This is accessibility, it is making everyone able to use technology, otherwise, no matter how revolutionary it is, it will die.
Data from 2021 show that 61.8% of the global population has access to the internet, which means that for the Metaverse to exist, this number still has to grow a lot. And not just grow in the number of people connected, but also grow in terms of quality. To live in a fully connected world, we need a good and accessible connection for all people.
Care must be taken with what is expected from the Metaverse, because if we do not have more accessible technologies in the future, social inequalities tend to increase more and more. People already living in poverty will become poorer and jobless. In a world where more and more jobs and functions are being digitized, we need to insert all people into the digital world, so that we can evolve as a technological society that is less and less unequal.
So what will the Metaverse look like?
Think of the Metaverse as simply the internet, only much more connected. The Metaverse won’t be a digital or VR world where people can live in it, because that already exists, and it’s pretty old and outdated. Metaverse refers to a fully connected world, where we will no longer be able to separate the internet from our lives.
We are already on the way to making this happen, our bank balance, music, movies, games, shopping, relationships, everything depends more and more on internet access, and in Metaverso this will be mandatory. We’ll have situations where we’ll get home and with just a voice command all the lights will be on. This will happen naturally, without the user thinking that it is an Artificial Intelligence that is carrying out that command.
The connection and dependence on the internet are becoming something more and more natural in our lives, in the future, being inserted in the Metaverse will be something as normal and logical as turning on a lamp at home. We can no longer imagine our lives without electricity, and in the future, we will not be able to imagine our lives without the Metaverse. For the Metaverse to become a reality we need good internet connections, anytime and anywhere. We are entering the 4th industrial revolution with the arrival of 5G, we will be able to do a lot more things anytime and anywhere. But it is only with the arrival of the 6G that the Metaverse can become a reality, and this will happen at least 10 years from now.
Companies like NVidia, Microsoft, and Epic Games are working hard for Metaverso to become a reality, because as we have seen, Metaverso is not just the use of Virtual Reality or avatars in games, Metaverso is the use of the most advanced technologies, in a natural way and daily in our lives. Get ready to live in an increasingly digital world, with incredible technologies that will change the way we work, live and communicate.
The world of games is currently the closest to the Metaverse, because in it we have huge communities of people who often work, interact, and have fun within games. Companies like Epic Games have been revolutionizing the world with Fortnite, where music star Travis Scott performed live for over 27 million people. This shows us that the Metaverse is already around the corner, and games are getting closer and closer to taking us into this new technological reality.
Videogames are not just games anymore, games today are the biggest entertainment industry in the world, connecting millions of people on all sides of the planet earth daily. Allied to the digital world of games are digital currencies such as Bitcoin and NFT (exclusive digital items), showing that we are moving forward and that the world has changed, and will continue to advance in technology, creating new worlds, economies, and ways of communicating.
Metaverso will not be a company, nor just a technology, Metvarso will be what we call the internet today, only much faster, better, and more powerful.