It’s hard to get from one place to the other today without someone bringing up the Metaverse or something similar around you. It’s either your dad yelling across the house that someone hacked his brokerage account and he can’t find his Facebook stocks or your friend telling you about the new Doctor Strange movie where the lead character enters the multiverse. Luckily these two verses are different but one of them is the reason you are reading this article today.
On October 29th, 2021, Facebook announced that they are rebranding their company to Meta, which is Greek for ‘beyond’ but characteristic of all the tech company wants to build. The pilot video shows a digital avatar of the founder, Mark Zuckerberg, jumping between many different digital worlds faster than the blink of an eye. This would be the digital equivalent of apparition from the Harry Potter books where you can be in one place for a moment and a completely different place in another. The name change also accompanies a new logo that is essentially the Infinity sign in blue because several studies indicate that the color blue is associated with trust and security. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the chart below and you will see how colors didn’t just happen to fall there. Still not convinced? Think of how many times you were at a store and just picked up something to try on because it was a beautiful color!
Although Facebook went big with the concept of the Metaverse, and it isn’t the only big company to do so. Microsoft has also gone all out with announcing their readiness to build out the Metaverse and recently bought a publicly held gaming company to solidify their position in defining what the Metaverse will be.
What is the Metaverse? Is it already out there?
The short answer is nobody knows what the Metaverse truly is and what it will be capable of. All we know for now is that it will be a virtual environment where people can interact and communicate with people and their surroundings. This is similar to how nobody could explain what the internet is in the 90s other than multiple computers talking to each other. Today we use the internet to call a cab or to find hot singles in our vicinity; similarly, we could be doing any number of things with the Metaverse as it evolves. Working with the assumption that the Metaverse will just be another online world where we would have a digital body and can view our surroundings in 3-D, these technologies are already in our reach and around us daily. Most online multiplayer gamers are hosted in simulated environments that are either fiction or based on real paces. Similarly, most AR/VR headsets already give us the look and feel of being in a different place no matter where we truly are. But this confirmation that the tech giants are going there could lead to a wonderful set of possibilities. You would never have to order a pair of jeans that are not your size and return it because you could simply get into your realistic digital avatar and walk into a virtual store and try on their sizes. A trip to Disneyland on a Sunday doesn’t mean hours of standing in lines and then being too tired to function at work on Monday. The possibilities are truly limitless and only contained by how far we can imagine!
Like everything in life, the Metaverse won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Just like how social media is causing anxiety, depression, and body image issues for the current generation, there is no reason to assume that it will be any different in the virtual world. The access to the internet puts those with the resources at a far higher advantage than those who do not have access – both in terms of information and access to opportunities. Similarly, those with resources in the Metaverse could easily monetize everything from clothing to décor to education to make it a limiting factor for those without the resources. Not to mention that the current AR/VR technology is clunky, obtrusive, and more often than not causes motion sickness for users. What the future holds, we can only imagine, but I for sure am certain we aren’t going to end up in a Black Mirror type world where everything is just about our digital avatars simply because after two years of this pandemic, I’m already itching to get off Zoom and into the real world with friends, family, and colleagues!
Fount of wisdom, insufferable know it all, make it go away are just some of the phrases used to define Melwyn. When he is not at his Consulting job, he spends his time reading about technology and current affairs.