There’s been quite a lot of talk about the development of Metaverses and their impact on our social lives, gaming, and countless other industries. Companies across the world have realized that the future of entertainment and socialization will take place virtually, and the Metaverse is the perfect way to facilitate it. This might explain why massive corporations like Facebook, Apple, and Epic are investing so heavily in developing their own Metaverses. But what exactly is a Metaverse?
What exactly is the Metaverse and how does it work?
The metaverse isn’t exactly a new concept. Popular online games such as Fortnite, or Minecraft, have been creating user-built virtual worlds for years. But the most accurate depiction of what the Metaverse could be was showcased in the book (and now movie) Ready Player One. The book depicts an incredibly in-depth virtual universe where players could essentially live a secondary life, working, playing, and socializing with friends.
Ready Player One describes a massive virtual world that lives alongside the real world. One with an economy that extends between the two, which offers countless opportunities for work and innovation. What made this idea of this Metaverse unique is that it wasn’t just a gaming platform. While it offered plenty of games and entertainment, it also demonstrated its use as a working environment. The Metaverse offered countless opportunities for those looking to make a living, both within the world itself as well as in the real world. These ideas of the Metaverse can give us a good image of what’s to come and may be on the horizon soon.
The boom of video-conferencing tools throughout the pandemic foreshadowed a large shift to virtual environments for entertainment, work, and socializing. Just as it’s possible to communicate daily with loved ones and colleagues through Zoom, virtual reality and the internet are bringing a more substantial medium for communication and interaction through the Metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, and founder of Facebook, wants people to be able to shift between virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 2D, thanks to realistic avatars. With a snap of a finger or a flick of a virtual screen, you could tap into the Metaverse to accomplish just about any task relevant to your daily life.
Applications of the Metaverse
What makes the metaverse different from what we call the Internet at this point, is said to be its capacity to merge platforms and offer powerful interoperability. This coupling of technology and universes come together to create a persistent virtual universe that brings multiple aspects of our life into one place.
Entertainment and gaming
When talking about the Metaverse, gaming and entertainment are typically well associated with the idea. Both Fortnite and Roblox refer to their gaming platforms as a Metaverse, and they showcase several aspects of what a future Metaverse could entail.
- Virtual goods – Cosmetic items and avatars are a key part of both platforms. Roblox even allows outside creators to design and sell their virtual goods within the game itself. This brings new possibilities and creative avenues for graphic designers and animators.
- Multiple worlds – The Metaverse is a collection of different worlds and environments, meaning that it can appeal to a wide variety of people. It isn’t just a single game, but a collection of games, social environments, and more.
Christina Wootton, VP of brand partnerships at Roblox said, “the brands that are progressive in this area are the ones that understand the fact that self-expression is such an important component of why people spend so much time online. They can be who they want to be.” Communication and self-expression seem to be key elements in the drafting of the metaverse, which might be why Zuckerberg is so involved in it.
Social media undoubtedly plays a massive part in our world today, and players like Facebook are looking to use the Metaverse to take that to the next level. A persistent virtual universe is a next step in socialization, allowing users to express themselves through an online persona such as an avatar. The virtual environment allows people to completely customize, dress, and portray themselves how they want.
This will create a considerable amount of demand for digital items as users look to differentiate themselves and personalize their outfits, environments, and avatar.
Work and professional use
One of the lesser-known uses of a Metaverse is the professional aspect it offers. Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have introduced many work activities to the virtual world. Microsoft has also developed AR projects that couple the real and virtual worlds together. This brings more professional aspects to the virtual environment, and the Metaverse would be the perfect place to bring it all together.
The Metaverse also brings plenty of opportunities for work by creating demand for digital goods. These goods can range from games and services to virtual clothes and items. Animators, graphic designers, and programmers will have plenty of demand for their work as users clamor for items and cosmetics to personalize their Avatar and environment.
The Metaverse – not quite there yet
“It’s probably fair to say that what we have today is not quite the Metaverse yet,” said Moritz Baier-Lentz, member of the Metaverse venture capital fund BITKRAFT Ventures. It seems as though we won’t be witnessing the advent of the metaverse in the weeks to come. The hardware used nowadays would need to be developed much further to be able to support a digital world experienced by billions of simultaneous users in real-time.
Once we come up with computing capabilities strong enough to be the metaverse’s infrastructure, we will also have to provide a solution to the humongous energy consumption the metaverse could cost. The huge energetical price to it would provide great problems for power grids and, inevitably, for the environment.
But companies are working on developing the solutions needed for the Metaverse. NVIDIA has been working on a framework to help facilitate the development of Metaverses. The NVIDIA Omniverse project provides a considerable amount of backend infrastructure to allow designers to model, animate, and render scenes that can interconnect together.
Facebook also threw its hat in the ring when Zuckerberg announced his plans to build a Metaverse of his own design. The project builds off what Facebook has already established by combining social presence, entertainment, and office work all in a virtual environment. While the project is quite ambitious, a company like Facebook would certainly have the resources to see it through.
Other companies like Epic Games and Snapchat are also developing their own solutions, so the Metaverse might become a reality sooner than we expect. However, cultural changes could be essential to welcome the development of the metaverse. If we take VR and AR as examples of milder advancements, only less than 20% of Americans have been or still are VR headset users.
This leaves great room for potential users to adopt technological advancements, in time, thus it is clear that people are not ready for invisible screens to be popping up in their local cafe or supermarket. However, Baier-Lentz also predicted VR and AR headsets could surpass gaming consoles in 2025…
Metaverse, the new 3D Internet
All in all, the metaverse is a new iteration of the Internet; one which provides real-time physical consequences to virtual actions. It will also offer a customizable version of reality, in an altogether social and collective way: Tim Sweeney, chief executive of Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) said “The metaverse is not an App Store with a catalog of titles. In the metaverse, you and your friends and your appearance and cosmetics can go from place to place and have different experiences while remaining connected to each other socially.”
Staying connected, wherever you go. Wasn’t that the idea behind the Internet? Well, the thinkers of the metaverse promise to reinvent the concept of the Internet. It seems to be the new frontier for online interaction – now that we can do just about anything in a virtual world online, the pioneers of the metaverse want us to be able to transfer those activities into our physical realities.
The importance of 3D
Avatars will become a huge part of the applications of the metaverse, using them for shopping purposes for example. Let’s say you find the perfect outfit online, and you want to buy it but you’re not sure it would look good on you. What you would be able to do in the metaverse is try it on, thanks to your hyperrealistic personal avatar, and see if it suits you.
The metaverse is more than just using a digital avatar to try on clothes, though. It could also mean virtual real estate. It seems as though virtual metaverse is already happening: in March 2021, a piece of real-estate on the Somnium Space platform, which is a VR game space, was purchased for $500,000. In April 2021, a plot of land on Decentraland, another virtual platform, was sold for $572,000. Thus, the metaverse may already be unfolding, as users are purchasing virtual real-estate daily, providing the foundations of a metaverse economy.
What is certain, is that the metaverse will require any user to have a personalized avatar to navigate through the stages of its virtual, beyond the universe. Here at PixCap, we can also help you find your avatar and curate your metaverse persona in a way that suits your use of the metaverse. Using AI image capture, you can create your high-quality, fully customizable 3D avatar and use it for gaming, hanging out in virtual spaces, trying on outfits, and even purchasing land in the metaverse.