What is the metaverse? Why are Facebook and others betting big on it?

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Mark Zuckerberg may have asserted his power on social media, but now he’s moving on. Now he wants you to live in a parallel universe. Eat, play, and work in another world where you can somehow “teleport” in and out. (We’re hearing casting bells for another David Fincher director!) 😉

We’re talking, of course, of Facebook’s plans to “rename” itself from a social media company to a “metaverse company” (I’m not sure if that will result in a company name change).

This means that the company is gradually moving towards a future that embraces the concept of the metaverse, or the idea that web users will soon be living, working, and leading their lives in a virtual environment.

And it looks like the company is now fully engaged in this direction. In addition to investing heavily in VR (virtual reality) and augmented reality (AR) companies, Facebook is also working with governments and other stakeholders to bring these services to the most suitable markets.

Some call it the next step for Big Tech and a giant leap forward for the Internet. Others maintain their doubts, speculating that the metaverse business is just a distraction from Facebook’s own problems – repeated technical failures and growing regulatory crackdown from governments around the world.

Let’s see what it is.

What is the metaverse?

Literally, the portmanteau word of the Greek term “meta” (meaning beyond) and “verse” can be used to refer to a place which is beyond the world or the universe as we know it, but which seems just as real.

“Metaverse” first appeared in Snow accident, a science fiction novel from the 1990s, to describe a fusion of physical, augmented and virtual reality in a shared online space.

Over the years, the metaverse has been a recurring theme in science fiction where users, via their avatars, can walk around and interact with each other in real time. For example, they could sit around a virtual meeting table with distant colleagues. Or they could go to a restaurant to meet a friend who lives in another country.

A virtual reality space is not totally unknown. In fact, many video games (Fifa, Fortnite, Minecraft, Animal Crossing, etc.) use gadgets or devices to access virtual spaces where players control on-screen characters and events. Now imagine that instead of sitting in front of a console and watching the game unfold, the player could be inside the game, participating not from the outside but as a character built into it.

The ultimate social technology

Game companies may have taken the first step in the metaverse, but the kind of virtual worlds envisioned by tech companies like Facebook should be larger and more inclusive. They / it could involve all aspects of life from office, entertainment, relationships etc. where people can interact, communicate and collaborate with each other through a digital environment.

Facebook, in particular, has had a boost in the field by making early forays into the metaverse through large investments and acquisitions. It already has its own in-house products – the Oculus VR headsets, bracelets, and glasses – that users need to enter Facebook Horizon, an immersive virtual environment. Last month, the company unveiled the Ray-Ban Stories, which many observers have interpreted as its first example of selling the concept of metaverse to the public.

And now the company is stepping up to the plate by planning a full-fledged metaverse ecosystem with new protocols, new payment systems, new everything. Zuckerberg also aims to make it an interoperable tool, which means that the “virtual environment” will be accessible on all devices and headsets eventually, not just on Facebook.

But how is it going to work?

In the metaverse industry

Companies like Roblox and Fortnite have already created embryonic metaverse on their platforms. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite has raised nearly $ 1 billion in capital for its metaverse ambitions and is most ready to capitalize on its advent.

for your information: In April 2021, Fortnite hosted five virtual concerts of Travis Scott, who appeared as a avatar in-game. The event was attended by over 12 million players.

In fact, Microsoft has revealed its own plans to launch an “enterprise metaverse” due to its unique position and AI capabilities to help businesses develop metaverse applications. Which brings us back to the premise that (a) no business is supposed to own or manage the Metaverse, and (b) Facebook isn’t the only business betting big on it.

The virtual reality market is expected to grow from $ 3.1 billion in 2019 to $ 57.55 billion in 2027. In addition, the revenue generated by virtual reality companies is expected to reach $ 390 billion by 2025. garnering heavy investments from companies on a concept that some might consider science fiction.

Facebook is uniquely positioned with its rich user list and transcontinental digital presence to bring the reality of the metaverse into people’s palms. The role of social media in amplifying digital presence, in a way, started with the launch of Facebook and perhaps it’s only fitting that the company continues to play a pivotal role in moving to the next level. higher level.

But it’s deeper than that. One of the things sparked by the pandemic is the need for remote functionality growth. Maintaining a virtual presence is no longer an invention of the fantasy film genre but a necessity due to social distancing protocols and other interactive embargoes (travel restrictions, cross-border migration, etc.).

This is where the metaverse could augment our shared realities. With an increasing number of people spending their time online, the internet is expected to be the place where people will maintain their continued presence and spend their money. Wherever people spend money, this is where new aspects of culture and society and eventually the economy will follow.

Virtual reality is also developing use cases beyond entertainment such as physical identification – passports, driver’s licenses, Aadhaar, etc. Spatial awareness and the digital embodiment of one’s identity will play a crucial role in a society where everyone is interested in knowing each other’s life and choices, whether real or virtual. The gold standard of real-world proof of identity may no longer be necessary to create authentic user experiences.

The downloaded matrix

While there is still no consensus on a concrete version of what the Metaverse might look like, the converging interests of the region’s games, tech, software and social media companies are driving the idea of ‘a shared and global metaverse for the future. .

But whatever its forms, the metaverse will require the evolution of technology through infrastructure, user-friendly hardware and simplified digital interfaces. And this is where companies like Facebook and Microsoft stand to gain from their early forays into the industry.

But the creation of a community cyberspace of this scale also requires standardization and cooperation between these technological players who are reluctant to collaborate with competitors. However, when you think about the scale of the digital economy that must be created from the metaverse, it might be too appealing for companies to turn away and ultimately allow a massive exercise of cooperation.

Not only that, but its massive implications for society will create new opportunities and challenges for marketing, communications and branding. This is how the protagonist of Loan Player One recount :

People come to OASIS for all they can do, but they stay for all they can be.

OASIS is the metaverse of the 21st century.

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