The metaverse is a new virtual reality world where real people interact with each other and with organizations or businesses.
Users in the metaverse are part of an alternate reality, where they are personified by a digital twin, almost like in the movie The Matrix. That twin (or avatar) can obtain virtual goods such as clothes or housing.
The virtual goods acquired in the metaverse are “persistent”, which means users can retain access to them, along with their characteristics, appearance, etc. Blockchain technology and NFTs underpin this whole environment.
- Read more: What the bleep is an NFT?
Visualizing the metaverse
To better understand this type of environment, start by imagining that you’re moving through a 3D video game. In this digital environment, instead of visiting your bank’s website, your avatar goes into the bank’s virtual branch.
In the metaverse version of your bank, you can take various actions: move independently around in the space and interact with the interface by asking for your account balance, making a deposit or asking a virtual advisor for information.
As if you were there physically, you can also leave the bank and go into a store, try on virtual clothing, go to the checkout and buy your items.
Metaverse in everyday life
Since this is an artificial universe, you can also do things that are impossible in real life, such as jumping from one continent to another by snapping your fingers.
Instead of simply videoconferencing, co-workers can share a visual environment with a group of people and interact with each other almost physically in a 3D space.
Numerous companies are working on enhancing the sensory experience for metaverse users. For example, in the future we will likely be able to feel the pressure from a healthcare professional’s touch as they try to comfort us.
How to enter the metaverse
To start, you’ll need a very good Internet connection because metaverse technology takes a lot of bandwidth to generate a real-time environment that integrates other users.
To gain access to the metaverse, users rely onvarious types of virtual reality (VR) hardware.
Of course, you’ll need a VR headset. Some of them are compatible with your smartphone while others work with computers and certain video game consoles.
Portable accessories will be available to enhance your metaverse experience. For example, gloves that enable you to “touch” virtual objects, producing tactile sensations such as texture and weight, so you can handle them more realistically. Most of those accessories are currently under development and are coming on the market at very high prices.
Choose your metaverse
After gearing up with the basics, users then have to decide which specific metaverse they want to explore.
Although there is only one Internet, there is currently more than one metaverse. A number of technology companies are competing to design the most advanced and most inhabited metaverse.
Decentraland is a very popular metaverse where all sorts of events happen. Digital fashion week, digital real estate transactions, digital restaurant openings, and much more.
Another prominent metaverse is the Fortnite video game, where the virtual universe offers a growing range of possibilities. Recently, users were able to take a history course with fictitious professor Rick Sanchez or attend an Ariana Grande concert. To enter that metaverse, you need to download the game.
Opportunity for creators
Many specialists compare the advent of metaverses to the launch of the Internet in the 1990s.
In terms of creation and distribution, authors can therefore look forward to exciting new possibilities.
In the metaverses, you can design new digital objects and distribute content differently. It’s even possible to imagine an entire metaverse, treating it as a unique cultural product.
Impress your community
The potential for fan interaction is expanding in the metaverses: organize virtual concerts, adapt the staging to the song or create a multisensory experience.
An author could transform their novel’s universe to let readers become the protagonists and drive the story in real time.
Metaverses are creative goldmines for authors and artists who enjoy experimenting with technology and communicating differently with their community.
Metaverses’ impact on our society
Various analysts see the metaverses as the “next Internet”. They believe the metaverses will revolutionize our interactions and even our relationship with reality.
Before that scenario is realized, there is long list of questions to be answered:
- How will metaverses reach a wider audience?
- How will metaverses be organized among themselves?
- Will common law be applied in metaverses?
See also: Metaverse and the Law