The metaverse, a virtual universe that promises to be “the new chapter of the Internet,” does not stop stirring up debate and controversy on the web. And it is not for nothing, after all, the proposal of the metaverse is ambitious: to mirror the real world in the virtual environment, where people can interact through 3D avatars and technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.
Many have difficulty understanding – or even imagining – how the metaverse works, since it does not exist yet. However, its arrival promises to promote new types of human connections and inaugurate different forms of work, leisure, and even travel. With this in mind, Techidence has put together a list of seven facts that will help you better understand the new reality of the Internet.
1. The metaverse is a virtual world that ‘mirrors’ the real one
Currently, Internet experiences are two-dimensional, that is, navigation is performed through the device’s screen. In the metaverse, a 3D environment can be accessed through headsets, glasses, or connected watches. The main difference is that in a three-dimensional space, the user can have the sensation of being inside the web itself and experience the connection in a more complete and real-world-like manner.
Thus, the metaverse is at the same time a “mirror” of the real, since it can reproduce places that exist in the physical world, and a new universe, since it also allows the creation of a completely invented reality, with new scenarios. To translate this digital version copied from the real world, experts use the term “mirror-world”.
Another important term for understanding the metaverse is “digital twin”, which defines the virtual version of an object or part of real life. In this sense, an interesting point is that you can be whomever you want in the metaverse. There, your representation is made by an avatar, that is, an online character that can respect your characteristics – resembling a cartoon, like the well-known Apple memojis – or take on a completely different form, based on what the user would like to be.
2. The metaverse uses mixed reality technology
Complete immersion in the metaverse is made possible by mixed reality technology, which comprises elements of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Through it, the person can interact with virtual and real-world objects, and digital items can also dialogue with physical devices or a completely invented universe.
Although both technologies are aimed at experiences in virtual environments, the differences between the two are great. In VR, the user lives an immersive experience: by using devices such as special glasses or immersion helmets, the person is completely immersed in the digital world. The sensation is of actually living the new reality, as happens in roller coaster simulation toys, for example.
AR, on the other hand, is a digital overlay, with added images and graphics, projected onto the real world. A good example is a game called Pokemon Go, where characters can be captured in real environments as if they were there. To use augmented reality, all that is needed is a mobile device with the necessary applications. While VR creates a different world, AR includes components that interact with existing reality.
3. The metaverse is social and customizable
The metaverse involves connections between people who are represented by their avatars. Through technology, it will be possible to interact, make appointments, and go out with someone, among other leisure activities. There are also proposals for using the metaverse in more traditional environments, in the education and business sectors.
In this sense, Facebook (now Meta), the company that is leading the race for the development of the metaverse, proposes the use of Horizon Workrooms, a VR space for work environments. The idea is that meetings will be more natural than in current videoconferences, as avatars will also be able to copy facial expressions or get closer to other co-workers. In addition, Microsoft has announced that starting next year, Teams meetings will also feature 3D avatars.
4. You have had a ‘free sample’ of the Metaverse
The metaverse may be the talk of the moment, but it is not a completely new concept. The term had one of its first appearances in the 1990s in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction work “Snow Crash”, in which people could escape reality by exploring an online universe using an avatar.
In addition, the metaverse appears to be a more robust version of Second Life, the first commercial game to simulate life in a 100% digital environment where people interacted through 3D avatars. The game was successful in the 2000s and serves as a reference for what a social connection experience in the metaverse would be like.
Second Life had its currency, and users could do virtual business such as buying and selling land and obtaining clothes and accessories for avatars. In the metaverse, the movement tends to be similar, and the expectation is that investment in cryptocurrencies and NFTs will increase to foster entrepreneurship and new businesses.
It is worth remembering that the game, although attractive and promising, has been the subject of controversies involving virtual money and the solicitation of pedophiles to children. The fact serves as a warning to metaverse enthusiasts and signals the importance of proper regulation.
5. The metaverse may pose privacy risks
By owning WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, Meta owns one of the largest personal identification databases in the world. The fact, coupled with the numerous scandals the company has been involved in, raises questions and concerns about users’ privacy and security.
Furthermore, if the purchase of mixed reality devices goes through, the information base that Meta holds on users tends to become even more complete. This is because the devices have the technology to track body parts such as eyes, face, and hands. Soon, the company will be able to access the physical characteristics and personality traits of each user.
6. The metaverse is not an exclusive Meta project
Despite monopolizing the construction of this digital universe, Meta is not the only company focused on the metaverse. Companies such as Epic Games, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Roblox are also interested in this new Internet experience.
But you are wrong if you think that it is only technology companies that are interested in investing in the new digital universe. Nike, for example, is getting ready to commercialize virtual shoes. Disney, in turn, is thinking of ways to use Disney+ as a platform for the metaverse. The company’s idea is to use virtual sets and animated avatars to offer a complete visitation experience.
7. The metaverse still has no date to happen
The construction of the metaverse is still in its early stages, as many technologies surrounding it are also in the process of evolving. Participation in a 3D virtual world will depend, for example, on a more powerful Internet connection.