The metaverse is the next step on the digital ladder. Since Facebook decided to re-brand as Meta, we've been hearing a lot about the metaverse.
Metaverse? That sounds familiar...
Although it recently stepped into the mainstream spotlight, this term is not new. One of its earliest mentions was in 1992 in the novel “Snow Crash”, by Neal Stephenson. In this fictional universe, people could interact, through digital avatars, in a single three dimensional virtual world but with physical consequences to the user in case of the avatar’s untimely demise. This was, of course, a dystopian view on the concept and not what we have today.
What we have today is much closer to the metaverse found in Ernest Cline’s 2011 “Ready Player One” novel, with multiple worlds and experiences to choose from.
The metaverse is, simply put, a persistent three dimensional virtual world where someone could have an entirely separate existence from the real world. It’s the internet, but this time in 3D.
OK, but what could I do in it?
You could really do anything that is possible digitally. You can own digital property, participate in social events, explore different virtual realities where different laws of physics apply and your avatar can fly, or just let your imagination run wild and create a world to your liking, from the virtual atom, to the virtual unicorn that you ride in a rainbow.
That sounds great! How do I get there?
You can interact in these worlds using anything that you already use to connect to the internet like: a simple computer by controlling your avatar through the mouse and keyboard; by using a phone through augmented reality where your movements are translated to the virtual world; by using a virtual reality headset like the Meta Quest and be completely immersed in the metaverse experience, and so many other combinations of technologies.
What about the workplace?
Having such an immersive experience will allow us to not simply connect, but to maintain the human connections even when our co-workers are far away. You can share the same office when you're at home and have meetings with a more physical presence.
The professional applications are the most promising because they are the least explored, due to the traditional work environment preferred by employers, but with the work flexibility we´ve experienced in recent years, this might become a reality fairly soon.
Isn’t that too big of a change?
Since this is a new paradigm, the process will be gradual, starting with single events, like presentations, moving to conferences, and then people will start gathering by themselves in these virtual spaces.
The next digital native working generation will be part of a new educational model with hybrid or even full metaverse interaction, which allows greater flexibility of opportunity for students living far away from their intended schools and learning experiences with greater impact than a text description. VictoryXR, backed by HTC, is building a digital campus with VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) experiences.
Isn’t a book good enough?
While traditional education has brought us this far, it is showing an increasing detachment from the real necessities of our time. So we must improve, by using the tools we have at our disposal and create educational experiences that go beyond imagination:
- A doctor, can be immersed in a procedure;
- A store salesperson, can practice with digital customers;
- A technician can learn how to perform maintenance on a wind turbine.
All this with reduced safety risks, cost in transportation, hours of tutors; and increased retention by the student.
Ok, Let’s go then!
Just like in the early days of the Internet, everything seems possible and the future can be very bright. Technology just provides us with tools, but the way they are used is always up to us, and as such, the metaverse will be shaped by the people that take part in it. So I hope you explore this new frontier to learn and expand your horizons, socialize and burst your bubble, and most of all, be amazed by the wonders of imagination and creativity. I hope to see you in a metaverse.
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