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What is Metaverse? Are we very close to live in immersive digital world alongside physical world?

Hi everyone! So, here I’m with the hot topic for you that’s gaining popularity never like before- Metaverse! With excessive use of these terms by majority of news portals and tech websites recently, you might be thinking what actually is the metaverse?

Firstly, to understand fundamental about Metaverse, let’s dissect its word structure or say it syllable. Metaverse is a word which is combination of two words “Meta” which means beyond and “Verse” referring to Universe. So combinedly, it’s beyond what we see and feel in our very surrounding.

Well, to start, if we think of the internet as revolutionary technology than we might be known to the fact that lots of expert discussions are centered to Web 3.0, which is supposed to be the recent version of world wide web. We’re all familiar with world wide web(WWW) or say it just “web” and maybe some of us already delved into “web development” as well. What we were doing on web was just using playing with linear two dimensional constructs like images, texts, web pages, animations etc. And now, the metaverse is playing with spatial construct as opposed to the previous web. By saying space, it’s not just a game or entertainment stuff.

It’s blend of real universe with immaginary universe that is created collaboratively by independent users or organizations with the help of recent technological advancements like Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality(VR). We can refer metaverse as the latest and future version of the internet as well and so do the majority of tech giants.

Majority of general public believe that the idea behind metaverse is same as experiences that they gain by participating in the virtual gaming platforms with an avatar of self. FYI, avatar is a virtual version of ourselves that we control as we explore this entirely new online frontier.

Wait, but what will we actually do with avatars in metaverse? It it just like Social media with 3D avatars of people talking with each other and hanging out? That understanding is not wrong either but it’s not everything!

Technology world, regarding metaverse, is just in adoption and testing phase and some players are already working towards this technology to great extent. But, rather than confining our imagination just to what we’re seeing as metaverse right now, it’s better to imagine what the metaverse could be in future and how it’s going to change the way we’re connecting with friends and family as well as how businesses could leverage this technology and benefit in near future.

Metaverse is trying to build everything to be immersive and connect our physical existence with physical like virtual existence. By saying so, it doesn’t mean that everything has to be virtual reality. It could also just be on our smartphone or on a personal computer. You might have noticed that we’re using the tools of the metaverse to create a good portion of this items already. I spend a lot of time these days; first, trying to just define what the metaverse actually is. With the zeal of exploring this technology, I recently signed up to a metaverse platforms named “Oasis” and “Uhive” where I was given to create an avatar of mine and get involved with either VR headset or smartphone itself. Except for daily mundane routines of sleeping, getting up, eating, going to work, hangout with dear ones, whatever I wanna do, I can do it in the Oasis. Hanging around my favorite spots like cities, museums, auditorium, sea beaches etc., meeting new people and starting conversations or watching movies together for a while is just a little in these platforms.

Majority of platforms like these provide tools for people to create their avatars from the very scratch or from a profile photo that they’ve uploaded. This become the virtual version of user which travel between online experiences in any metaverse. Over time, as lot of users are investing time in such future digital world, what I’m most excited about is an economy involved in such platforms. I mean, digital economy is not just related to digital goods and engagement time but also services in an immersive environment to great extent. With my avatar, activities and habituality comes various things. I’m going to need a stylist maybe, unlock features to expand my limitless opportunities or have to earn or buy a virtual home space or so on.

A recent Bloomberg intelligence report believes that the market opportunity for the metaverse could be $800 billion by 2024.

Some tech giants like Microsoft has adapted its workplace meeting software teams for the metaverse already. They’re developing a system called mesh designed to work with a variety of different devices including virtual and augmented reality. Mesh is designed to operate on top of the real world that we live in, using headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens or even with mobile phones.

Microsoft Mesh Mixed Reality Hero | Image:

During pandemic, we all have experienced online meetings and online classes never like before and what we all probably felt as participant of two dimensional flat video meeting was the low effectiveness or fatigued maybe. But with mesh, Microsoft realize they now on the verge of making communication to about less speech and more involvement with facial expressions, gestures and everything else.

With metaverse, I shall be in my living room with the entire team from different geographical location around the same table making eye contact along with all the gestures that are coming into the right place. That can change completely the way we do meetings and work in team. Its not limited only to these meeting things by the way. Metaverse isn’t just about seeing these virtual worlds and interacting via same tools we’re using now but about feeling them as well.

Image: Freepik

Facebook recently changed its company’s branding name as “Meta” to shift it’s focus towards metaverse and probably to dominate the market of VR the earliest possible. They’re working on Oculus VR Headsets affordability rapidly to take advantage as early adopters. Meta has also revealed that it’s been working on a glove that will let the user feel sensations like holding an object and touch/feel as well. The glove has a number of sensors that measure the wearer’s movements. On ethe other hand, air pockets managed across the glove surface inflate to create sensation as well. These gloves aren’t quite ready for prime time yet but they’re an indicator of the kind of research that’s going on behind the surface.

I think we are very-very close, and witnessing every day though, the exodus from a purely physical world to an increasingly immersive synthetic digital world that doesn’t look like one place we all go to, but it’s actually just the blend of the different digital worlds that we experience on our various devices.

There’s no doubt that Metaverse depicts a future internet of 3D immersive spaces linked into a spatial virtual universe, but universal technology standards, affordable and accessible interfaces, security and privacy as well as communication protocols between users, devices and among virtual environment systems are still in development phase.

The author of this blog post is a technology fellow, an IT entrepreneur, and Educator in Kathmandu Nepal. With his keen interest in Data Science and Business Intelligence, he writes on random topics occasionally in the DataSagar blog.
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