Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Microsoft announced earlier this week that it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, citing the acquisition as part of a metaverse expansion. Meta was a nod to Facebook’s desire to be a driving force in the next phase of the internet when it renamed itself last year. Metaverse discussions often include recreation rooms and world-building games like Roblox and Minecraft.

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It’s not a new concept to think about the metaverse. The phrase has been around for a long time. There is nothing new about virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D computing. For years, people have worked hard to make technological advancements accessible to all. The current surge in interest is just the latest high point in that long process.

There is a shift in perspective, a conviction that the internet must be reimagined. It’s anyone’s guess how far-reaching those changes will be. It’s true that the metaverse’s roads are only half-paved. No one knows if it will be finished on time.

As long as there’s money to be made, big corporations will get involved. In addition to Microsoft and Meta, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Valve, Epic, HTC, and Apple are all working on new ways to communicate online. It’s not yet clear if these initiatives will stand alone or be linked. One thing is for certain: the metaverse will be a hot topic in the coming years.

What does the term “metaverse” refer to?

The metaverse is an unsatisfactory concept. Online spaces where people can socialise, work, and play as avatars are often described as an evolution of the internet. When you’re done using them, they don’t disappear like a Zoom call, so they’re always available. As a result of the expansiveness of the definition, many believe that the metaverse already exists in the 2D virtual worlds of Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. The original metaverse is Second Life, a nearly two-decade-old social and gaming platform. (It is currently undergoing a makeover.)

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and other proponents are looking to combine existing technologies like VR headsets, smartphones, personal computers and cloud-connected servers to create a deeper and more immersive experience. A 3D virtual world, one that can be accessed through a headset or AR glasses, is what these futurists envision. There’s no consensus on whether or not you’ll need virtual reality or augmented reality to access the metaverse, but they’re almost always used together. As a result, these headsets are likely to be compatible with whatever is on the market. This year, Meta, Sony, Apple, and possibly others, are expected to release new VR and mixed reality headsets.

Virtual Reality and the Metaverse

In the metaverse, we can expect a virtual world that mirrors our real-world experiences. Whether in a single virtual world or spread across many, digital neighbourhoods, parks, and clubs will spring up. For some, the physical world and an alternate reality (AR) coexist in a metaverse. Virtual land is already being purchased by investors. A metaverse embassy for Barbados has been expressed, further underscoring the esteem in which the idea has gained.

They doubt that the metaverse will live up to what Zuck and others have claimed. Many argue that the headsets required to access the most exciting parts of the metaverse will be cumbersome. Playstation inventor Shigeru Miyamoto called them “simply annoying,” while a senior Meta executive called his headset “wretched.” According to the critics, Big Tech hasn’t come up with a way to stop the spread of hate speech, misinformation, and bullying on the Internet. They say it will be difficult to get a handle on these issues in an even more chaotic setting.

How many metaverses are there?

That is still up in the air. There are no established standards for the metaverse, and many companies are scrambling to lay the groundwork for the rest of us. In an effort to gain an advantage over the competition, a slew of companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, and Epic Games, are all working on new projects. The compatibility of one company’s VR headset with another company’s expansive multiplayer world or cloud-based graphics is not yet clear. There are many companies that claim to have a metaverse that allows other companies to join. However, they must first come to an agreement on how they will collaborate.

In order for Meta’s metaverse projects to be successful, it claims that interoperability is critical to their success. When using a Microsoft platform, you should be able to use the Facebook avatar you already have. That suggests a single metaverse. Your Fortnite skins won’t transfer across platforms if you try to use them on a different game.

Internet utopianism is evident in this vision of a single metaverse that can support the services provided by many different companies. All bets were off when the early pioneers realised how much money could be made online. Similarly, it’s likely that the metaverse will be the same. If Zuck and others are correct, too much money will be at stake for companies to allow customers to pick up and move around.

For now, the metaverse is most likely to begin as an array of competing platforms, each of which will lay claim to being the metaverse. Consider a situation similar to the early days of instant messaging, when the available services were dispersed throughout the network. However, over time, standards will emerge, and eventually the big players will use technology that resembles email protocols. That’s pretty much how the internet now works, with squabbles over widely agreed-upon protocols and proprietary standards and content from a variety of companies and competing software ecosystems.

What is the metaverse going to be like?

An immersive, 360-degree digital world is the goal of the deluxe Metaverse, which requires the use of a headset. An avatar you design yourself, as well as digital assets whose titles are likely to be recorded on a blockchain, are all things you can look forward to having. Some people believe that you’ll buy virtual land and build virtual homes, where you can entertain your friends and family members (or at least their avatars).

While this may seem far-fetched or absurd, bets have already been placed on the value of digital land. Virtual property in Decentraland, a 3D world platform similar to Geocities or Second Life, was purchased by Tokens.com for nearly $2.5 million. (Ethereum blockchain tokens are used in Decentraland purchases.)

According to some, the experience is more fluid. Roblox and Fortnite are examples of simple metaverse experiences that are already available. Those games aren’t quite as immersive as Zuck’s metaverse, but they give a good idea of what’s to come in the future.

There’s already a lot we’re doing online that points to how the metaverse might expand in the future. There will be some gaming, some Zoom telepresence, some VR and AR splashes, and a lot of social media. There will be numerous attempts to make it all work or be enjoyable.

In order to enter the metaverse, what kind of gear should I bring with me?

You must buy a headset like the Oculus Quest 2 to access the metaverse, which Facebook wants you to do. Some people do not believe that the specialised hardware is required.

Scott Stein of CNET

It’s all up to you and where you’re going. This headset is made by Facebook and they want you to buy it. Although the hardware is self-contained and does not necessitate the use of a PC or game console, it costs $300. Other VR headset manufacturers include Valve, HTC, HP, and Sony, all of which can be used with PCs or PlayStation 4/5 consoles. By the end of the year, expect to see more headsets, some of which may be able to connect to smartphones.

Microsoft and Magic Leap, among others, make AR headsets that layer digital information on top of the real world and are typically more expensive than other types of headsets, like Google Glass. While Qualcomm and other firms are working on ways for AR glasses to work with phones, the majority of applications have remained experimental or business-focused thus far. There is still a long way to go before AR glasses like Snap’s prototypes, or glasses like the Nreal Light, become a viable purchase.

Additionally, you can access existing metaverses from your computer, tablet or smartphone. These platforms, despite their lack of a 360-degree experience, have become increasingly popular.

What is the origin of the metaverse?

The term was first used by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, in which the protagonist, a pizza delivery driver, spends time in a virtual fantasy world online. In 2011, the novel Ready Player One, in which people congregate in the Oasis metaverse, updated the concept, inspiring Facebook to launch the Oculus Rift.

When Second Life was launched in 2003, Linden Lab attracted car companies, record labels, and computer manufacturers to open digital outposts in the virtual world. (CNET had a presence in Second Life as well.) Second Life’s popularity has dwindled over time, despite the fact that it is still active.

By Adam

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