What is the metaverse, and will it just be another way to market your business? If you’re just catching on with what the Internet has done for your business, with eCommerce and remote working, you’ll be wary of yet excited about the metaverse. It’s the next big thing and where consumers go – businesses are sure to follow.
What Exactly Is The Metaverse?
Depending on who you ask, you’re likely to get varying descriptions, but there is one constant that is the metaverse is 3d immersion. So the next question is – what is 3d immersion?
3D immersion is virtual reality in 3D, and as Wikipedia explains: VR is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. When you’re in the metaverse, you’re surrounded by images and sound in much the same way as when you’re playing games like Fortnite.
Marc Cieslak of the BBC in this video offers an easy way to to understand the difference between the internet and the metaverse. He sums it up as:
The internet is something we look at. The metaverse is a version of the internet that we’re inside.
Ready Player Me/OZ
In the metaverse, you use an avatar – a virtual image of you or how you want to represent yourself, so it has to be good, right? Already you can get an idea of where some businesses will make money in the metaverse with the services to dress avatars. For example, your avatar can dress up for business meetings and down for casual catch-ups with friends. How you look will cost money too – clothing, makeup, hairstyle etc.
Plus, by the time the metaverse is in the mainstream, we’ll be ready for it. With the pandemic about to enter another year, ‘screen fatigue’ is a real thing. Getting ready for those Zoom meetings will be a thing of the past once all your work is done in the metaverse and you’re represented by your avatar. Companies are already creating tools for people to create avatars from photos. Ready Player Me and OZ are two companies used to develop Marc Cieslak’s avatar in his BBC video.
Who Owns The Metaverse?
No one owns it, just like no one owns the Internet. However, Meta (previously Facebook) has claimed their stake in making the metaverse, announcing 10,000 new jobs in the EU over the next five years. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced the renaming of the Facebook company recently to Meta and their intention to be all over the metaverse.
A Statista survey conducted just one month after the restructuring of Facebook revealed which demographics of the US adult population are interested in Meta’s VR metaverse project. The results have a surprise result, i.e. more interest by 35 – 44 age group than the 18 – 34 year-olds.
Age demographic interested in Facebook’s metaverse project:
- Over 65s – just 13% keen to know more about it
- 45 – 64s – 27%
- 35 – 44s – nearly equal 48% interest vs 52% no interest
- 18 – 34s – this one will surprise you 43% interest vs 57% no interest
Building the Metaverse
There are other players, i.e. businesses involved in developing the metaverse. According to XR Today, some 160+ companies are working on the complex digital environment. VR Today explain some of the more prominent names you’ll be familiar with, including:
- Epic Games
- Meta (Facebook)
- Niantic (remember Pokeman Go?)
7 Layers of the Metaverse
The metaverse relies on a complex set of seven layers explained by John Radoff.
The connectivity layer allows the connection and relies on technology like 5G, WiFi, the Cloud and GPUs (graphics processing units). However, we’re not ready for the metaverse. Intel says the Internet needs new plumbing upgrades and that it’s working on the ‘building blocks’ for the Metaverse, which include three layers:
- ‘Meta intelligence’ layer – unified programming model and open development tools and libraries
- ‘Meta op’ layer
- ‘Meta compute’ layer – the raw horsepower required for metaverse experiences.
The challenge of delivering super-high bandwidths and low latencies, among other requirements, is complicated by the sheer scale required, i.e. the real-time experience for hundreds of millions of users simultaneously. Technology in the infrastructure layer includes 5G, WiFi, Cloud and GPUs (graphics processing units).
How humans join and experience the metaverse may require VR headsets, AR glasses, haptics. Apple will be a big player in VR gear with the VR manufacturing happening in China.
Decentralisation is permissionless participation where you don’t need permission from someone, a business or a group to participate. Metaverse is expected to be open, transparent and decentralised. Decentralised technology includes blockchain and AI – not controlled by a central body. Every metaverse will have its own blockchain. For example, Decentraland uses the Etherium blockchain, and The Sandbox uses its own blockchain.
The virtualisation of experiences and interactions uses 3D modelling and visualisation. Companies like Nvidia focus on 3D modelling and design collaboration using 3D graphics with AI and supercomputing (XR Today).
This is the money layer with various digital assets, eCommerce stores. Creators sell directly to consumers without the middlemen. There is unequalled opportunity in the metaverse for anyone and everyone to own digital assets, aka NFTs. This video explains how transforming the metaverse will be for humanity, including creativity, earning and productivity despite AI and automation.
This content layer is vital for pulling people towards new experiences in the metaverse. When you think content, it’s impossible to not see Meta (Facebook) being a big player. An enterprise may have an amazing metaverse, but if the content is not up to it, it will remain the best-kept secret – this won’t happen to Meta’s VR project for the metaverse! Content includes everything you’re familiar with now, including:
- Social Media
The most exciting layer is Experiences, the virtual reality equivalent of events, gaming, shopping, and work. Microsoft are focused on a work focused metaverse using current tech like Microsoft Teams but in VR – wow!
More To Come
Digital media is pulling us online for hours every day with OTT video on demand and games, but that’s nothing to what the metaverse will do to how we spend our day. A study has revealed the average time spent on a mobile phone is over three hours a day? Then there are the other devices to consider, such as working on a laptop or desktop to do your job. We’re happy to spend much of our daily and lives online. With the metaverse, you may spend more time online than off it.
There will be a lot of business blogs on the metaverse so watch this space. Our next article will be on how you can make money in the metaverse.