At the end of last September, the social media giant Meta celebrated the Meta Connect 2023 event. In light of this celebration, the word “metaverse” once again made headlines in the media and on social networks. After months where artificial intelligence and ChatGPT had been the absolute protagonists in all forums, it might have seemed like the metaverse had lost its momentum.
But had it really been relegated to the background? We suspect not. Mark Zuckerberg has revisited his unique vision of the metaverse, which he first unveiled to the world in 2021 when he also introduced META, and he has put it back on the front page.
Bain & Company’s study from last August also predicts a strong future for the metaverse. In the study titled ‘Taking the Hyperbole Out of the Metaverse,’ it boldly states that “the metaverse isn’t dead (…) it could reach a market size of $700 billion to $900 billion by 2030.”
Today, let’s reconnect with this technology and get to know it a little better.
What is it?
The term “metaverse” originated from the pen of Neal Stephenson, who first used it in his cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” (1992). But it is no longer a term lost in the obscure science fiction section of a bookstore. It’s now a reality.
The metaverse is a set of technologies that converge in the digitization of reality, creating virtual worlds that make the user feel like they are truly inside them. It doesn’t aim to be a world of fantasy but rather a kind of alternate reality. This network of interconnected virtual worlds can be accessed through various devices, not only using virtual reality glasses but also through augmented reality systems, mobile phones, and computers.
The main characteristics that define the metaverse are as follows:
- Immersive: What defines it is the three-dimensional representation and access through virtual, mixed, and augmented reality glasses, immersing the user in this parallel world.
- Interconnected: Despite numerous companies being involved in its development, the goal is to have interoperability standards that allow users to transition from one world to another.
- Persistent: The metaverse continues to function even when the user is not connected. It’s a live and independent environment where life goes on regardless of the user’s login hours.
- Real-time: The metaverse functions like a parallel world. This means people can interact with each other in real-time. Users react to the virtual environment as they would in the physical world.
- Autonomous Economies: The metaverse generates its own economy. This means people can work in this virtual world, buy and sell products or services. Brands are already establishing their presence in the metaverse to attract a younger audience. Blockchain technology plays a crucial role here, enabling traceability and ownership of assets.
- Unlimited: The metaverse has no limits. Is there a predetermined number of users, experiences, or worlds? The answer is no. To date, the metaverse has no limits in terms of experiences or users.
What can we do in the metaverse?
In reality, the possibilities offered by this technology are limitless. As we progress, more opportunities emerge.
Its current use extends to various fields:
- Video Games: There are already platforms with millions of games created and marketed by users, which are a manifestation of the metaverse, as seen in Roblox. Certainly, all signs point to the gaming component playing a crucial role in these new worlds.
- Culture: In addition to buying and showcasing art, the metaverse also hosts concerts and other cultural events.
- Work Tool: Virtual meetings, creating workspaces, customer service, and presenting products in a different way. Microsoft’s work with its mixed reality platform, Mesh, is moving in that direction.
- Industry: Digital twins or virtual recreations of environments and infrastructures are another important aspect of this technology. The idea is that workers can use virtual reality headsets to inspect and interact with environments. It is also considered a training tool.
- Economy: The metaverse is also being considered as a speculative world where realities can be invented, built, or reproduced for socializing, buying, and working.
There are already companies using the metaverse to simulate product concept and resistance tests (such as BMW), improve safety in extreme environments (Iberdrola), or in healthcare (virtual surgeons).
To understand how far the metaverse will go, there are still many uncertainties to resolve, and it will require research involving diverse areas of knowledge, including law and political science, art and humanities, economics and business, health sciences, digital skills, city planning, computer science, multimedia, communication, and education, among others.