Metaverse Explained: Definition, Technology, Industries, Hardware and Important Trends
Table of Contents
- Metaverse Definition and Concept
- The First to Build the Metaverse
- Metaverse Main Technological Elements
- Metaverse Hardware Technology
- Components Important for the Metaverse
- Identifying Oneself in the Metaverse
- Trends Pushing the Creation of the Metaverse
- Industries Ready for the Metaverse
- Metaverse Ecosystems
- In Conclusion
The concept of the Metaverse has seen a rapid growth in interest, shaping into something that can become the mainstream reality in the foreseeable future. Accelerated by the growing capabilities of immersive technologies that make up the Extended Reality market, Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Augmented Reality (AR) are giving us new tools and vision of how and through which mediums we interact with each other. The Metaverse is poised to transform many aspects of our everyday lives, from revolutionizing how we socialize and commerce to how and where entire industries like Healthcare and Education operate.
As we dive deeper and uncover the concept of the Metaverse, we are beginning to discover the vast benefits and opportunities that arise for both individuals and businesses alike. For some, the idea of the Metaverse is still a tricky topic to tackle. Thus in this article, we will once more explore the basics of the Metaverse, the Definition, Technology, Industries & Trends to help understand the potential of the concept ahead.
Metaverse Definition and Concept
There are already quite a few definitions of the term out there, many from the prominent leaders of the tech industry. If I were to shape one, I would say Metaverse is the next generation of interaction, the Web 3.0 if you want to call it. The concept that will blend our physical and digital existence, an open and expansive universe that will transition users from flat 2D environments into immersive and interactive 3D. A common, ungoverned, and most importantly co-created existence, consisting of a myriad of Metaverse worlds, with open standards and no physical borders. We are talking about an iteration that is decentralized, scalable and autonomous, that allows users to connect into a unified existence from any device. Ideally, we are talking about an immersive, interactable, smart, intuitive and digitally enhanced environment which could be both artificially created or real-time augmented, enhanced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
The First To Build the Metaverse
If you think of innovation, digitalization or even space, there was always someone first to build, create or introduce a new concept, theory or term. We can put a name or a brand to many of the innovations. The term itself was introduced by Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash, where he spoke more of a virtual existence. When it comes to the idea of the Metaverse we have today, it implies cross device existence that is built on co-creation, then one that will unite multiple Metaverse worlds created by both companies and individuals. Thus, as we understand it today, we cannot really expect to have sole concept ownership, a single company or individual capable of creating such a structure. Even though Meta was amongst the first ones to talk about their vision of the actual creation, there are plenty of software and hardware elements that must come together in order to make it happen. Which will make it exponentially difficult to identify the creator, however we can already see numerous companies like Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Microsoft, Amazon, Roblox Corporation, Pixowl and others, contributing and being the pioneers of the next chapter of the internet's existence, the so-called Web 3.0.
Metaverse Main Technological Elements
As the Metaverse promises to become a world of its own, an existence somewhere between purely physically and solely digital, it will incorporate a number of technological elements. Starting from a variety of hardware that includes but is not limited to flat screens, Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality devices (AR, VR & MR), smart glasses and mobile devices. The next significant fraction is the vast scope of software that will be essential to the creation of the Metaverse and that covers subjects of digital twins, hyper-realistic avatars, data, NFTs, cyber security, 3D modeling, design and many more. We can expect the Metaverse, to some extent, to be built using the same technological principals as the real-life and the current iteration of the internet, the Web 2.0, has. That includes communication, interaction, transaction, ownership and many other functions.
Metaverse Hardware Technology
Even though many Metaverse experts talk about immersive technology making up the bigger fraction, considering that ideally it would be a space that connects users from around the globe, it ought to incorporate access from any mobile device. We already have a vast variety of Extended Reality devices from pioneers like Magic Leap and HTC VIVE to newer releases like Pimax Reality 12K QLED, Nreal Airand Varjo XR-3. While the Metaverse hardware market is oversaturated with AR, VR and MR enabled technology, one thing is for sure, that we cannot expect a sudden switch from flat screen devices to purely immersive technology.
It could take us another five to ten years to smoothly integrate XR into the everyday lives of average consumers, as the Metaverse is bound to be intuitive for users of different age groups and technical literacy, thus including elements with real-life physics as well as incorporating aspects of purely online environments and gameplay logic. On the other hand, enterprises already today are much more open and exposed to welcome XR devices, which without doubt has been driven by the pandemic constraints. And with that being said, enterprises will be the ones driving the adaptation of XR technology and its reach for mass consumers.
Components Important for the Metaverse
Like with any environment, the Metaverse will have its pillars and building blocks that will allow a seamless merging of digital and physical worlds. They will include an iteration of the Internet as the world wide web and a means to connect, digital identities capable of verifying individuals in cross platform experiences, open standards that are accessible and usable by anyone including the programming language standards, XR and other communication devices. Let’s not forget about the potential to unravel the next generation of visual fidelity with both hyper-realistic environments, assets and avatars playing an essential role in the user’s level of submersion.
At the same time if we are more abstract, the Metaverse without doubt ought to be scalable, interoperable, both digital & physical, with the capability to be populated by millions of users and contributors at the same time. It will have to have the capability to connect individuals and their virtual identities in a multilayer hybrid digital and physical economy.
Identifying oneself in the Metaverse
If you think of the Metaverse it seems pretty straightforward, until we actually start thinking about the details. Like in both real life and online, the Metaverse could require one to create and claim a digital identity that would reflect a number of characteristics, from demographic information to digital avatar appearance or even search history, that could identify a user. While in real-life we can present a personal ID to prove that we are who we claim to be, in the Metaverse a new standard of personal identification will be required. The challenge will be in making it ungoverned, fraud-proof and at the same time linked to a real-world identity.
On the other hand, we are bound to have digital personas, or better said – digital avatars, which will be part of our digital identity, however, could hold different physical and visual parameters different from the one an actual real person could have. With that being said, the accelerating power of 3D design software already enables us to create hyper-realistic avatars that represent the next level of visual fidelity. However, here is where we could have conflicting moments, when a person intentionally or accidentally replicates a real person’s physical features. This would be a tough challenge to overcome as the conflict would be between the freedom of expression and risk of misrepresentation or even fraud in the Metaverse.
Trends Pushing the Creation of the Metaverse
The number of trends accelerating the creation of a unified Metaverse has increased significantly. With the growth of Live Streaming, accessibility of content creation and no-code platforms as well as the expansion of decentralized infrastructure boosted by the mainstream interest in crypto, we expect more enterprise and average consumers to join in on the hype. Spatial computing & AI will without doubt be amongst trends that will push the development of the Metaverse, along with automation, robotics, GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) power development, cloud computing and blockchain.
The rise of cybernetics, which has led to the miniaturization of high-speed networking devices and the widespread of both mobile device and wearable technology, allowed technology to move closer to one’s body, making users more prepared for the coming of headword immersive devices. Let’s not forget about the vast availability of the high speed internet and extensive roll-out of 5G and the coming of 6G which enables to transfer terabytes of data faster and more efficiently, which will be essential to run and connect millions of users of the Metaverse simultaneously.
Industries Ready for the Metaverse
Amongst the first ones to reach were the entertainment, gaming, real-estate and retail industries. We are beginning to see quite a few implementations in the advertising, fashion, art and sports industries as well. What excites me, however, is the potential the Metaverse holds for Healthcare. Here we are talking about a wide scope of directions including surgical, therapeutic, intervention, rehabilitation, remote monitoring, mental health, transformation of patient visits and many more. Healthcare functions like surgical preparations and patient demonstration could be moved into the immersive 3D environments of the Metaverse.
Just imagine being able to walk-through with the surgery along with the operating specialist, or medical students observing a surgery that is happening in real-time, remotely on their XR devices. Here we, however, will face yet another challenge. Accessing some of the healthcare functions through the Metaverse will require the creation of complete ecosystems that will allow access and exchange of patient data by institutions across the globe.
Our everyday functions like education, logistics, manufacturing or even healthcare could potentially be replicated in the Metaverse, connecting physical and digital presence. This will require creating advanced cross platform ecosystems that are able to transfer and exchange data between different institutions. A great example of that, would be the connected healthcare ecosystem system, where one would have a cloud-based data storage, accessible by patients and specialists worldwide through the Metaverse and regardless of their physical location. Imagine having a possibility to reach any specialist in the world and have a face-to-face consultation simply through one of the immersive devices, either in Mixed or Virtual Reality.
These ecosystems could completely reshape access and availability for millions worldwide. The recent global pandemic has proven to be a great challenge we never expected to have, that has suddenly put so many restrictions on people around the globe, limiting both traveling and interaction possibilities. Of course, we are far from moving healthcare functions purely online, however setting the stage for such ecosystems could help us solve quite a few accessibility issues in the future.
In conclusion, the Metaverse is an emerging new reality with the potential to revolutionize numerous industries. While the Metaverse is still in its early stages of development, it is evident that the concept poses tremendous interest for businesses and consumers worldwide. One thing is sure the Metaverse will continue growing with the potential of emerging into a stand-alone virtual economy. Nevertheless, the Metaverse as a concept can represent a significant shift in how we perceive our digital existence and interact with technology and each other, impacting many aspects of our everyday lives, including work, social, and entertainment.