Metaverse – The future of Internet

The  constant evolution of technology

Technology is constantly evolving and progressing faster than ever. Almost fifty years ago, when internet started in the United States, no one imagined its immense proliferation. This internet evolution from web 1.0 to web 3.0 has disrupted almost everything. Needless to say, it has become an indispensable part of our modern day lives.

The constant technological evolution has gifted us the miraculous experience of mobile web, smartphones, zoom meetings, AR/VR and blockchain. In a way, technology has become a controlling gear of our lives.

According to an American inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil“Technology goes beyond mere tool making; it is a process of creating ever more powerful technology using the tools from the previous round of innovation.”

In July 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned about transitioning from a social media company to a metaverse company. Recently, he changed the facebook name to “Meta” to align his ambition of creating the metaverse. This announcement has further sparked the interest in the public to know more about metaverse.

So, What is Metaverse? Why is it popping out as the next big technological thing?

Metaverse is the phenomenal convergence of multiple growth technologies like AR/VR/XR, blockchain, gaming and AI in the shared online space. This term was coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson, in his science fiction novel “’snow crash”. The novel portrays the interaction between the humans (as avatars) and software agents, that takes place in a three-dimensional virtual space using the metaphor of the real world. It is essentially composed of two words: “meta” (meaning beyond) and “verse” (universe). This explains that metaverse is a universe beyond internet and embodies the shared 3D virtual spaces including the entire spectrum of AR/VR.

In simple words, by merging the physical world with XR, AR and VR, Metaverse allows the digital identities to interact and move.

“The Metaverse is a network of interconnected virtual worlds in the same way the World Wide Web is a network of interconnected website,” – Rabindra Ratan, an associate professor at Michigan State University

Metaverse is a part of Gaming Ecosystem

Few movies like Ready Player One or The Matrix have best demonstrated the concept of metaverse. The movie characters explored a virtual world with the use of high-tech gadgets like VR headsets.

Metaverse can also be considered as a replica of epic online 3D games like Minecraft and Roblox. The users of these games craft their imagination and explore millions of immersive 3D experiences in a virtual world.  Sandbox is another most exciting metaverse experience going on currently.

Other benefits of this ‘next-internet’ thing

Metaverse is beyond gaming and many proponents have best described it as the “successor of the internet”. It has the huge potential to contribute to our day-to-day lives and make it easy. It will let people converse with each other, have office meetings, hang out, play games, deliver lectures, and watch movies, in a virtual environment. Instead of the plain internet, the Metaverse will have three dimensional texture, color and massive interaction.

Integration of Metaverse with Blockchain/NFTs

In case NFT technology will be integrated in the metaverse, then people can start owning the digital properties as well. It will have the capability to serve as a decentralized platform where people can buy and sell digital assets.

Interestingly, blockchain-based virtual reality platforms are already in existence. One of them is Decentraland (MANA) that was created in August 2017, through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The project states that MANA would allow users to purchase LAND on a virtual reality economy. Through an Ethereum (ETH) smart contract, LAND ownership is maintained on the blockchain. To understand it better, LAND is a blockchain based asset based that has a limited supply while MANA is the virtual currency that powers the Decentraland ecosystem, from auctions to transfers.

Few other VR platforms based on a blockchain technology include Upland, CryptoVoxels and NeoWorld. In a way, these individual platforms are laying a foundation for the future metaverse where everyone can engage.

In Dec 2020, NVIDIA, a U.S. based computing platform company also released a beta version of ‘Omniverse’, an open platform for virtual collaboration and simulation, that the company considers analogous to ‘Metaverse’.

NVIDIA Omniverse makes it possible for designers, artists, architects, engineers and reviewers to work together in real time across leading software applications in a shared virtual world from anywhere. It is being used by prominent companies like Bentley Systems, BMW group, SHoP Architects, South Park and Lockheed Martin and has been downloaded by over 50,000 individual creators since its launch.

According to Rev Lebaredian, Vice President of simulation technology at NVIDIA, “The metaverse will become a platform that’s not tied to any one app or any single place- digital or real. Ultimately we’re talking about creating another reality, another world, that’s as rich as the real world”.

Features and Capabilities of Metaverse

Talking straight, the metaverse aims to offer the surreal experience of real-world activities like social interaction, buying physical and virtual goods, collaborating and working with office colleagues and attending sports events, movie premieres concerts or music festivals. These capabilities of metaverse are the outcome of its distinguishing features. The metaverse technology is persistent in nature, and all events are experienced in real time. Moreover, it can host any number of users at any given point of time and place. Besides that, digital assets and identities can move over several virtual platforms, and can be customized as per the user choice.

Covid accelerating the adoption of Metaverse

Undeniably, the Covid-19 outbreak has played a considerable role in accelerating the path to metaverse. The pandemic forced us to stay indoors and work remotely, and many companies have now embraced a partial or complete work from home policy, despite of the relaxation in enforcement by the government. With the heightening numbers of zoom meetings and google meets and the increasing use on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, there is no better time to adopt metaverse than now. We all have heard of the famous proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, which implies that necessity forces people to get into action and achieve the desired outcome either by hook or by crook. Perhaps this pandemic that has necessitated social distancing and hybrid working culture is driving the faster adoption of metaverse.

Authored by Ekta Bhatia for Fujn


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