Although metaverse is not a completely new term, its popularity more than doubled following the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook was becoming a metaverse company and that its name would also be changing to Meta. This singular announcement set many other things in motion as other tech companies like Microsoft, Disney etc expressed their own interests in the new universe. There has really been a lot of hype, confusion, buzz and misinformation around the metaverse concept. However, the metaverse has made considerable progress and it seems to be evolving as the days go by.
The metaverse is a 3D virtual world; a place where one can get immersed in any digital surrounding and participate in any physical reality. The metaverse makes it possible for you to see and feel anything even though you are you millions of miles away from the scene. Another benefit that the metaverse offers is that it gives opportunity for people to collaborate across different locations.
While one is still in the real world, representations can be made on the metaverse using personalized avatars which can explore the digital world. In the near future, electromyography and neural interfaces will make it possible to control devices, communicate and collaborate just by slight movement of the fingers. Things will be just a thought away – just thinking it gets it done. There’d be glasses which will facilitate seeing the reality of others and this will be through the functionality of complex sensors.
For tech companies, businesses and investors, it is important to know where the metaverse is headed and how long it will take to arrive there. While things are just starting to take shape in the metaverse enterprise, the gaming industry has made metaverse to become a word on the lips of every player. Over the next 12 to 24 months, there will be a ‘first big wave’ where mixed reality hardware produces breakthroughs for immersive experiences. This will be followed by a stage, probably in the next three or more years, where fully augmented reality glasses hit the market in a bigger way. This stage is so important as the glasses are the gateway to the metaverse.
According to expert opinions, there are technological advancements and social factors helping to push the metaverse forward. The emergence of 5G networks, the rise of edge computing, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) and the need for more digital collaboration necessitated by COVID-19 are all contributing to push the metaverse forward.
While it is not possible to accurately state or predict where the metaverse will be in a few years, one can get a rough idea of its destination by taking a look at the industry players that have worked on the metaverse the longest and have the resources to drive significant changes. Here, companies like Microsoft, Google, Meta (Facebook) and Apple comes to mind.
Glasses Google was actually the first to come up with augmented reality glasses in 2012. The glasses presented a small screen on the right side of your vision designed to carry web or other information streamed via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection with your phone. The Glass Enterprise Edition, which allows workers to go hand-free followed three years ago.
Meta (Facebook) is one of those investing heavily in the metaverse. It invested $10 billion dollars in 2021 alone and company was even renamed Meta to show it’s new focus of ‘bringing the metaverse to life. Facebook is busy creating all kinds of connective technology, which represents covering its bets across possibilities. It has the Quest headset for VR. It has Horizon, a social VR platform it launched in October that includes various forms: Horizon Home (for your default personal digital space), Horizon Workrooms (for your work environment), Horizon Venues (for events), and Horizon Worlds (which lets you hang out with up to 20 people at a time in a virtual space, and write code to build things like games in a Minecraft-like environment). Meta is also developing a mixed reality (MR) headset, called Project Cambria, for release later this year. It is called mixed because it will allow sensors to pick up your surroundings to inject them into your VR experience.
As the metaverse is growing in popularity, tech companies are all looking for ways to get in. Heavy investments are being laid down and new sceneries are being unveiled everyday. Who knows, we might wake up one day to see that the metaverse has displaced the universe.