Basically, even the experts don’t really agree on what the metaverse really is. But there’s a lot of technology in there, everyone agrees. But unlike data clouds, smartphones or smart home systems, the benefits to users are hard to see at first. Tech nerds try to explain the Metaverse with three different approaches.
A whisper went through the digital tech world in the fall of 2021, as Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg introduced his Metaverse here. At the same time, the group itself was renamed “Meta”, so nowadays every newbie is probably the first to suggest the Metaverse trend with Facebook. A clever gesture that should significantly change the future of social networks and our daily lives. In his presentation, Zuckerberg reported at length on the diverse possibilities of the new world, in which users can travel as their own avatar, explore landscapes and cities, or meet friends and family. Even if they actually live on the other side of the world, for example. To make all of this possible, a combination of virtual reality technology with a headset and glasses should be used. Meta then provides the real world to discover, the avatars fill it with life. And partly with their real-world lives, because by linking everyday apps, such as WhatsApp, avatars should also receive messages from the here and now in the metaverse.
Zuckerberg’s strategic decision is a reaction to the fact that the number of users on the Facebook platform is currently down for the first time. Instagram is also struggling to assert itself against TikTok and otherwise it seems people are oversaturated with mainstream social media. So you need something new to survive in the market. And that’s why Zuckerberg plans higher, bigger, further. But it is important to keep an eye on the weather. Nothing but promising announcements so far. Users around the world are waiting for the true start of the universe and should be fed with the relevant news shortly before they lose their appetite for the idea.
The Brand Metaverse
At the start of the year, Kaufland announced “We are starting in the Metaverse”. But wait a minute – where do you start if the lens doesn’t even exist yet? Admittedly, no one knew for sure at first. But when Coca-Cola, Nike or Gucci talk about Metaverse, they’re not talking about the heralded world of Marc Zuckerberg. You are talking about a digital platform in which your own products are available virtually and can be tested there in a game world.
And now it gets really interesting: because it is already possible to buy digital special collections that are not available in the real world. Buying a limited edition designer handbag? Getting the only pair of sneakers in a specific color combination? Everything is possible and everything is a real investment. Because as in reality, the supply determines the price. And collectibles are also traded digitally at sometimes appalling prices. And there you have it – the link to the cryptocurrency. Because even though you can’t pay with coins and bills in the metaverse, a currency has been around for a long time. Bitcoin and Co, which was originally a digital currency, is now also used in this digital world – complemented by new means of payment such as metaverse coins. And so, this payment method perfectly complements offers with digitally tradable goods, called NFTs. Or, to be more precise: an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a kind of unforgeable title deed that is recorded in a blockchain. Some apps and providers already work exactly with this blockchain, where even digital properties can be bought and sold.
The “not yet existing” metaverse
Anyone who hasn’t heard of Matthew Ball certainly will in the context of Metaverse. Because the Silicon Valley investor already published a text entitled “The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, and Who Will Build It” in January 2020 and continued it with nine other parts last year. In it, Ball explains the vision of a metaverse, which he considers a “successor to the mobile Internet” and also shows many ideas that could soon become reality. According to his ideas, the metaverse can be described as follows:
- The system is autonomous and represents a virtual world composed of the factors of the virtual economy and society. Almost anyone can participate here.
- As in our world, the economy is represented by services and products, but only virtually. With these, however, trading can be done exactly as we know it from our lives.
- The metaverse only works with virtual and augmented reality
- Different worlds can form a large metaverse. It is easily possible for users to switch between worlds and also take their stuff with them. Like moving on land.
- In the metaverse, buildings and rooms can exist just as they do in everyday life. From living room to home to office complex and nature should be able to stay. However, there are no limits to creativity, completely new worlds can also be created.
- A working metaverse will not exist and work for several years.
- The establishment of the Metaverse in our everyday life will be done gradually and not piecemeal.
A First Look: Metaverse Applications
From gaming to work to communication – apps are already available today that should point us towards the metaverse. But many of them are not really mature yet, which is why there is currently hope for the “Horizon” applications from subsidiary Meta Oculos. These are “Horizon Workrooms”, “Horizon Venues” and “Horizon Worlds”. These are the basic applications with which Marc Zuckerberg’s Metaverse should be usable. With “Horizon Worlds”, it should be possible to create your own games and play them with friends. At this time, however, this can only be used in the US and Canada by VR pioneers over the age of 18. And even here there are problems right now. So it is always important to be patient.
The situation is different with “Horizon Workrooms”, because here one’s own workplace can be recreated digitally and then used entirely virtually. You can then start using VR glasses. Remote connections can even be used to view your own screen in the metaverse in the virtual workplace. And now it gets a little scary: where controllers are normally needed to operate the metaworld, with Horizon Workrooms you just need to hold your hands together in front of the headset. The glasses then recognize them and reflect them one by one in the working rooms.
Other Metaverse apps are currently on the rise, but still in testing or in the market, but with pretty bad downturns. What already works today are some applications in the field of “games”, in which adventures with robots and colorful creatures can be experienced in meta-worlds. In some cases, economic activities and investments can even be carried out there. For this, special financial metaverse applications are needed, which allow metacoins and cryptocurrencies and the list of NFTs.
How big are the question marks in your head now? Probably not much smaller than at the beginning of this text. And therein lies the difficulty of the Metaverse, as it is currently nothing more than a vision of the future that we only know to some extent from various other contexts. Computer games, for example, which allow you to create your own avatar to accomplish tasks, are a first comparison that makes the idea a little easier for us. Or cryptocurrency, which already plays a role in our time. So do digital certificates, which have some value and are already traded online today. Connecting and evolving all of these things into an even bigger, even better, and even more fantastical universe is what Metaverse is all about. Sure, the idea of combining real-world and digital advantages on one platform is appealing. Where we now switch between live and virtual, for example in real business meetings paired with digitally connected colleagues from other cities or countries, soon we will all be able to sit together at a table in a new world. . Or anyone who today meets up with friends online to play games can in the future sit together on the virtually replicated couch at home and fight opponents side by side. But until then, there is still a long way to go. And for all of us, a lot of imagination to unleash.
The Metaverse looks promising – a world where nothing is impossible and where you can be where you want, with whoever you want. But a real metaverse is still only a vision, because apart from the first approaches, prototypes and test phases, the universe is far from being mature for the general public. Although cryptocurrency and NFT trading is already possible today, the road to a true digital economy is still long and arduous. Horizon Workrooms, on the other hand, is already giving its first impressions of the digital workplace realm.