Have you ever been to a 3D movie? Before entering the hall, you’re given special eyewear that enhances your viewing experience. As you watch the movie, you realize the experience is different from the standard movies. A missile is launched in a scene and you feel it literally screams past your ears. Can you relate? You just had an immersive experience. It was as if you were literally in the path of the missile and barely swayed out of its way. Now, imagine this immersive experience in many other areas of life such as meeting with your friend who is in another country or working remotely at your home but simulating an office ambiance. We’re talking about Metaverse. Think of the Metaverse as another universe, a virtual copy of the physical, real universe. Everything is digital about it. Whatever you do in real-life – well, most of them – you can simulate virtually in the Metaverse. The idea of Metaverse has been slowly coming to fruition and there are many areas where it’s going to impact, such as virtual interactions, the workplace, shopping, and real estate. It’s a new thing that promises to do a lot.
In the next few sections of this article, we’ll discuss how Metaverse can change our world. Note that Metaverse is a huge thing and it’s going to impact our lives in ways all of which can’t be comprehended yet. But, some of the most notable and common areas are discussed.
Imagine you’re working remotely and entering a meeting with your colleagues that are in the office. Now, you use virtual meetings and chat tools like Zoom and Google Meet for such purposes. These tools are efficient but cannot provide you with an immersive experience. You realize you’re seating in your room or a café and it’s just a virtual meeting. But, what if you experience seating in the same room as your colleagues, touching the desk, adjusting your chairs, and using your colleague’s laptop like you’re there? Isn’t that a totally different experience? Summing it up, you’re virtually in the same room, doing stuff that you are required to do and when the meeting ends, you realize that you were in your room.
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Imagine you’re on a video call with your friend. It seems as if both of you are in a room, sitting across, and chatting away casually. The room has its furniture, TV, and everything else. The main difference is that it’s a virtual setup that so seems real.
One of the main principles or pillars of Metaverse is decentralization. Let’s understand this with an example. At its present state, data is controlled by a few large corporations. They treat data as their birth right even if the data doesn’t belong to them. Large corporations like Meta, Google, and even government agencies snoop and take your data with or without your consent. If that sounds atrocious, you’re helpless. It can be argued that some amounts of data do help in security issues but the fact is that corporate organizations track your data to shore up their profits. Internet search is dominated by Google. It almost seems like bullying. You don’t have better options, it’s a monopoly. Metaverse has the potential to decentralize the obnoxious consolidation of power so you have more say and control over what you own. It’s unimaginable now but this will create new types of jobs. For example, Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn game enabled many people in the Philippines to earn money during the tough times of Covid.
Metaverse could potentially heal the environment and the climate. In the past few years, many transactions – such as NFT tokens and digital art – have been taking place in the Metaverse domain. Even then, such transactions are in a nascent stage. But imagine the huge changes if the transactions accelerate and more domains like real estate and retail marketplaces are included in the Metaverse. Giant retail marketplaces could be taken down and parks or housing could replace them. Most people could be working from home and that would drastically reduce their carbon footprints.
Metaverse could increase the accessibility to many things drastically. Of course, the internet has already made the world a small place but Metaverse takes that to another level and the manifestation could be in multiple areas. In education, students might not need to attend universities far away and learn in an immersive setup. This could prove to be a huge boost in their learning. In entertainment, think of virtually attending the concert of your favourite artist in the Metaverse. There’s no limit to how many tickets you can sell or the attendance, you can attend the concert, as if in person from anywhere in the globe. The same thing can happen in the travel industry. With the costs of travel increasing, Metaverse can make your dreams of visiting your dream destination come true at the cost of peanuts.
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The concept of the Metaverse is both radical and pioneering but the implementation is still at the nascent stage. Before it can be implemented at scale across the world, a lot of things, that include the infrastructure, legalities, consent, and ethical and moral aspects must be examined thoroughly. Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook to Meta and that means something. Also, according to research, the market value of Metaverse is projected $1.6 billion by 2030. But as of 2022, its reach and awareness have been limited. Many people have expressed a lack of knowledge or interest though that can change over time. Another issue has been the public perception of Facebook. Facebook faced immense scrutiny and criticism over its handling of public data. So, when it rebranded to Meta, it was believed that it had done more to deflect the criticism than to actually lead an initiative towards a Metaverse. Public perception, right or wrong, is extremely powerful stuff that the corporations behind Metaverse can’t afford to ignore. They must take careful steps and manage the negative perceptions before the idea of Metaverse can come to fruition.