What is the metaverse?

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Here's an experiment to illustrate how ambiguous and complex a term "the metaverse" might be: Replace the phrase "the metaverse" with "cyberspace" in your mind. Ninety percent of the time, the meaning will not vary significantly.

This is due to the fact that the phrase does not refer to a particular sort of technology, but rather to a wide (and frequently hypothetical) shift in how humans engage with technology. And it's very feasible that the name may eventually become as obsolete as the technology it originally referred to (Ravenscraft, 2022)

The metaverse is a concept for the next generation of the internet, according to many scholars in the computer industry. It is a single, shared, immersive, lasting, 3D virtual realm where people can experience life in ways they cannot in the real world. (Mystakidis, 2022).

While some of the technologies that enable access to this virtual world, such as augmented reality (AR) glasses and virtual reality (VR) headsets, are developing quickly, other essential elements of the metaverse, like sufficient bandwidth or interoperability standards, are probably years away from becoming a reality or may never become one (Allam et al., 2022).

The idea is not brand-new: While work on the technologies that support an internet based on virtual reality has been ongoing for decades, novelist Neal Stephenson first used the word "metaverse" in his science fiction book Snow Crash in 1992.

In this universe, the computer screens we use to access the global information web have developed into doors into a tangible, three-dimensional virtual world that is larger and better than real life. Avatars—digital representations of ourselves—move freely between experiences, bringing our identities and money with them.

When Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in October 2021 and declared plans to invest at least $10 billion in the idea that year, "Metaverse" became a household term. Along with Meta, other tech behemoths like Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are investing enormous sums of money on the idea (Tunca, 2022). The metaverse economy may reach $5 trillion by 2030, according to optimistic predictions made by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. With gaming, entertainment, education, and marketing in the metaverse all likely to grow in importance, e-commerce is predicted to be the dominant engine.

Companies now use the word to describe a wide range of improved online environments. These range from virtual changing rooms and virtual operating rooms to nascent virtual workplaces like Microsoft's Mesh or Meta's Horizon Workrooms and online video games like Fortnite. The present iteration of the metaverse is taking the form of a multiverse rather than a single common virtual space: a number of distinct metaverses with limited interoperability as businesses compete for dominance.

References

Allam Z., Sharifi A., Bibri S., Jones D., and Krogstie J. (2022). The Metaverse as a Virtual Form of Smart Cities: Opportunities and Challenges for Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability in Urban Futures. Smart Cities, 5, 771–801. https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities5030040

Mystakidis S. (2022). Metaverse. Encyclopedia, 2, 486–497. https://doi.org/10.3390/encyclopedia2010031

Ravenscraft, E. (2022). What is the metaverse exactly?. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-the-metaverse/

Tunca S., Sezen B., and WilkV. (2022). An Exploratory Content and Sentiment Analysis of The Guardian Metaverse Articles Using Leximancer and Natural Language Processing. Research Square. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-1882606/v1

Dr. Alaa Momani
Author: Dr. Alaa Momani
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