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What the Heck is the Metaverse?

One buzzword you have probably been hearing about since last year is the 'Metaverse'. We're bound to come across this much more in 2022 too.

The term has been around for a while, but it gained traction last year after Facebook rebranded itself as Meta. The purpose behind the rebranding is to help foster in the next generation of the internet, aka the metaverse.

The term definitely isn’t new, as it has been around for decades. But, the concept has picked up momentum with more companies coming onboard with technology that can begin pushing the boundaries of the internet.

Definition of the Metaverse

Ok, but what exactly IS it? The metaverse can be described as a 'simulated digital environment that uses augmented reality (AR) virtual reality (VR), and blockchain technology'. It creates virtual spaces that empower rich user interaction that may seem close to the real world. 

Well, that all sounds great. But it’s still a bit amorphous as to what exactly the metaverse is. Or what it will be.

Some say that an early form of the metaverse already exists. You can see these in gaming platforms like Minecraft, Fortnite, or even the almost 20-year-old social and gaming platform, Second Life.

However, none of these existing platforms truly leverages AR/VR, which is not commonly considered to be a foundational element of a full-fledged metaverse. 

The Potential of the Metaverse

What the Heck is the Metaverse?

If the metaverse eventually becomes what we think it will be, then we are looking at a near-parallel universe. In other words, a virtual world that largely parallels our in-real-live (IRL) lives. Think digital neighborhoods, parks, clubs, theaters, and other virtual versions of the real world. 

Imagine a VR world where you could interact with others and share experiences that are closely aligned with the real world. But without ever having to leave the comfort of your home or office.

Imagine attending a concert, seeing a movie, going to a museum, or simply engaging with people in this virtual world.

Challenges of the Metaverse 

At the same time, none of this truly exists yet. There are a number of technological and practical challenges of having the metaverse come to the realization. In addition to the adoption by a large portion of the population.

For one, entering an AR/VR version of the metaverse will require some sort of headset or glasses. Until they implant chips in our brains (not saying anyone is looking forward to that idea) there will always be some technology in between people and the metaverse. That can make a truly immersive experience more problematic. 

There also is no clear agreement on the development of one metaverse to rule them all. So, we may have many companies develop different metaverses that may or may not overlap or interact with each other. What if you needed a different headset to enter each metaverse? That would certainly diminish the adoption of any one option.

Are you ready to buy virtual real estate? What would property ownership look like in the metaverse? Would you need to buy a place to ‘live’? Would companies need to create virtual company headquarters? There are even countries that have expressed interest in having virtual embassies in the theoretical metaverse. 

Basically, we still have only an inkling of what the metaverse may look like. Expect that to change in 2022 as companies push forward with the technology to begin exposing people to the concept beyond the current gaming platforms.