“Even if the Metaverse falls short of the fantastical visions captured by science fiction authors, it is likely to produce trillions in value as a new computing platform or content medium. But in its full vision, the Metaverse becomes the gateway to most digital experiences, a key component of all physical ones, and the next great labour platform,” said Matthew Ball, venture capitalist, in his 2020 blog on Metaverse.
In the world of technology, every once in a while, a concept or an idea erupts as the most disruptive development, taking the whole industry by storm. Companies, big or small, hop on this hype vehicle almost instantly, expecting good RoI; that said, whether or not these developments live up to the hype is a discussion for some other time. ‘Metaverse’ is one such concept that is currently having its moment in the sun.
Derived from the sci-fi literature of the 90s, the metaverse in current times has been popularised and advocated heavily by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Recently, motor vehicle company BMW introduced its ‘globally unique virtual world: Joytopia’. This new streaming platform from BMW will allow users to independently navigate through three unique worlds as an avatar, along with a map and sign for help. These avatar forms will have the shape and form chosen by the users, and they can run, jump, or fly.
Metaverse is the driver behind Facebook’s Oculus VR and its newly announced Horizon virtual world. Further, as the expenditure on cloud computing increases, such technologies will drive the online-offline future.
What is Metaverse
Originally, Metaverse’s earliest mention happened in dystopian sci-fi novels where virtual universes provide an escape from failing societies. This very concept has now evolved into a moonshot goal for Silicon valley and a buzzword in the tech circles. The idea is to create a similar space on the internet where users’ digital avatars can walk and interact with one another in real-time.
Metaverse can be thought of as a collection of a bunch of worlds. Online social games like Fortnite and user-created virtual worlds like Minecraft reflect some of the ideas of the Metaverse. But Metaverse is much bigger than these in a way that it is not tied to any one app or a single place, as explained by Rev Lebardian, VP of simulation technology, NVIDIA.
Speaking of NVIDIA, the company has gone all out in this new field. Last year, the company launched a platform called Omniverse. CEO Jensen Huang said the inspiration for this platform came from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel ‘Snow Crash’. In a separate interview, Huang referred to Omniverse as ‘metaverse for engineers’. Last month, the same platform was used to create a virtual replica of Huang, who delivered a part of the keynote speech at the NVIDIA GTC Conference.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been quite vocal about his excitement for tech’s latest buzzword. He has said that Facebook’s future is a metaverse. Facebook’s Metaverse will go beyond just gaming and include the workplace, entertainment and others to create a ‘social experience’ for its users. The company has also invested in virtual reality, with almost 20 per cent of its employees working exclusively on VR and AR and recent acquisitions like BigBox VR and Unit 2 Games. The VR segment accounts for 3 per cent or less of Facebook’s top line.
Companies like Intel and Unity Software have spoken about Metaverse. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also discussed the concept of ‘enterprise metaverse’ in July during the company’s earnings release.
In South Korea, a metaverse alliance is working to persuade companies and the government to collaborate and develop an open national VR platform. Such a platform would aim to blend smartphones, 5G networks, augmented reality, and social media to solve societal problems.
Founders, investors, tech executives, and futurists have all tried to claim a stake in the Metaverse, building on its potential for entertainment, experimentation, social connection, and ultimately profit.
Ball says that Metaverse is not a virtual world or a space but can be seen as a successor to the mobile internet, a framework for a highly connected life. He also believes that there is no clear distinction between before and after Metaverse.
Subscribe to our NewsletterGet the latest updates and relevant offers by sharing your email.
I am a journalist with a postgraduate degree in computer network engineering. When not reading or writing, one can find me doodling away to my heart’s content.