What is Metaverse? A peek behind the hype
The term “Metaverse” derives from 2 words, i.e. “meta” means beyond, after, or across in Greek, and “verse” comes from the universe.
So, in the literal sense, metaverse refers to a place that is beyond the universe or the world as we experience it today.
To put it simply, it’s a digital second life in a fictional world.
How does one enter and interact within a metaverse?
Interfacing with metaverse requires a set of hardware like a headset to get someone immersed in the 3-D environment, motion-sensing controllers to interact with virtual objects, and a microphone to communicate with other people.
People would see each other in a form of digital avatars. An avatar is the graphical representation of a user or the user’s character or persona (ref: 1).
Why all this hype lately?
A lot of the hype can be attributed to the announcement about Facebook rebranding itself as Meta (ref: 2), supported by Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussing it in great detail during the Connect 2021 (ref: 3). To quote him “Over time I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company”, and calling metaverse the next chapter of the internet.
Moreover, Microsoft has also acquired the game developer Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion (ref: 4). While Google has been working in the metaverse space for years (remember Google Glass?), analysts and investors are betting that Apple introduce the extended reality devices in the next year or so (ref: 5).
Where does metaverse currently exist?
Apart from Google Glass, we can see metaverse in action through movies and games. Movies like The Matrix, Avatar, Ready Player One, and Tron demonstrate the idea of the virtual world. In terms of games, Fortnite, Minecraft, Pokemon Go, and Second Life are some of the popular names.
Between 6–8 Aug 2021, Ariana Grande did a “Rift Tour” event. It was a virtual concert that took place 5 times live within the game Fortnite (ref 7). Previously, the rapper Travis Scott drew a live audience of 12.3+ mil Fortnite players, and 10.7+ mil people saw Marshmello’s virtual performance live in Feb-19 (ref: 8).
Typically speaking, one needs supporting hardware that includes VR helmets and AR glasses to access the Metaverse. This hardware has to be supported by software that makes the transition between the real and virtual worlds seamless—and this would be impossible without state of the art computer vision. Read more about this here.
Metaverse Use Cases
Since metaverse is the convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual realities in a shared online space, it can be used in any environment where humans want to interact socially and economically. This includes, but is not limited to, games, corporate, healthcare, shopping, entertainment, and travel to name a few.
Where does it stand now?
It won’t be inaccurate to say the technology currently exists in its rudimentary form. In a fully functional metaverse, a user would be able to move from 1 platform (read universe) to another, with all of his/her digital belongings and possessions.
An example of this would be a user’s NFT shoes purchased from Nike in the future will be available for avatar use in Meta’s Horizon platform while also in other virtual worlds like those in Fortnite and Minecraft (ref: 9)
How does Metaverse relate to blockchain technology?
The metaverse is all about digital identities in a virtual world, with people owning digital assets. Being able to verify the ownership of those assets, and the privacy and security of the users’ details, that’s where Blockchain Technology comes into the picture.
Some key aspects of how Blockchain Technology would support Metaverse are:
- Authentication of assets ownership.
- Assets Exchange between users.
- Interoperability between multiple universes (platforms).
- DAO’s for governance.
- An additional layer of security and encryption.
What is a metaverse coin or metaverse crypto?
An increasing number of metaverse startups are utilizing blockchain technology. To facilitate the economical exchange of virtual assets in the metaverse, crypto tokens/coins are launched by the platform owners. Users are able to use these tokens/coins to purchase and sell digital assets like virtual lands or outfits/accessories for their avatars. Like any other coin, these coins can also be traded with other crypto or fiat currencies (ref: 10).
If you would like to learn more about the subject of the metaverse, the role of blockchain technology, and some existing/upcoming crypto projects, have a look at our Metaverse 101 training program.
Click on the image below to start your journey towards the metaverse.
- Wikipedia — definition of Avatar
- Facebook rebranding to Meta announcement
- Connect 2021 — Mark Zuckerberg video
- Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard announcement
- Wall Street Journal article on metaverse and Apple
- New York Times article on metaverse gaming
- Rolling Stone article on Ariana Grande Rift Tour
- Variety article on Fortnite live musical event
- ATD (Association of Talent Development) article on the metaverse
- Coindesk article on NFT/Metaverse