While many have said that the only limits of virtual reality are your imagination, how will this translate into the real world and the future of the Metaverse?
Considering the recent events we’ve all experienced on a global scale in recent years, video has helped to bridge the physical gaps with some virtual magic. While it’s been a medium used for anything and everything from family board games, work meetings and even attending doctors appointments, video will eventually pale in comparison to the opportunities presented through virtual reality.
It’s no secret that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a fan of thinking big, and his recent rebranding of the parent company as Meta – derived from the Greek word meaning “beyond” – only solidifies this view point. According to Meta’s press release about the long term goal of the “Metaverse”, Zuckerberg’s vision is to create a digital world where users can virtually meet, work and play using a VR headset, glasses or your device – but can he pull it off?
The future Metaverse that we’ve been promised by the tech giants in Silicon Valley is best summarised as an online digital social space, where users can meet, work, and play collaboratively across a variety of devices. The Metaverse is aiming to bridge the gap between virtual reality headsets, mobile devices, and laptops, and users can ‘enter’ a virtual environment that consists of interconnected worlds from apps to games.
For technophiles, the future of the Metaverse represents a nirvana of sorts. In simple terms, the Metaverse is set to become a digital space to immerse yourself in any world, and participate in any physical reality, at any time. While we already have the ability to connect with people on the other side of the world, the Metaverse aims to take that one step further, and use virtual reality to not just see, but to feel.
A core part of the experience is creating a digital avatar of yourself, which is designed to help ground your presence in this next evolution of interacting with the web. If you’re inside the Metaverse using a VR headset such as the Meta owned Oculus Quest 2, you can communicate with others from a virtual environment of your choosing while represented by your digital avatars.
Regardless of whether you’re up for a casual chat with a friend or a work meeting, you can talk to people in the real world through their phone or webcam, while they’re displayed on a virtual screen in front of you. For now, most commercial VR experiences only provide visual and auditory feedback, but technology advancements will also introduce haptic feedback such as vibrations, meaning that users can physically touch and feel objects in a digital environment.
By 2030, there’s a very real possibility that we could be spending more time in the Metaverse than we do in the real world. On a day to day basis, people will be applying for jobs, earning a living, meeting with friends, shopping, even getting married using the virtual capabilities of the Metaverse.
In the coming decade, higher education and job training may increasingly be provided in virtual 3D settings, along with boardroom and workplace meetings. Businesses and governments will rely on the power and reach of the Metaverse to share information, provide services and collaborate as never before.
If the concept is still baffling you, we would recommend taking the time to watch Steven Spielberg’s recent film “Ready Player One”, which essentially depicts a virtual realm not so different to what’s on offer through the Metaverse, and is also in the not so distant future.
However, the film also offers a warning, and doesn’t shy away from the potential downsides of retreating to a virtual world in favour of engaging in the real one, so how the Metaverse will attempt to tackle this balance is anyone’s guess.
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