Deep Dive: Metaverse
Learn about what the Metaverse is, how it works, and what it means for the future of the internet.
When you hear the term ‘metaverse’, what do you think of? Maybe a world like in The Matrix, or a virtual video game environment that immerses the player like in the animation Sword Art Online.
While these fantasy worlds sound exciting or desirable to some, they are far from the reality that is the metaverse that is being developed and used today. So what is the metaverse and what does it mean for the future of the internet?
Most define “the metaverse” as a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, and the presence of people. The metaverse is designed to be navigated using avatars, primarily represented as 3D graphical images. Some metaverse spaces are compatible with virtual reality devices and headsets and support peer-to-peer financial transactions, such as cryptocurrency transactions.
The idea of the metaverse is meant to bridge the gap between virtual reality and physical reality, built utilizing the Web3 Internet. The Web3 Internet is the next step in the evolution of the internet. It’s not meant to replace the existing internet that we use today, but rather expand and transform it. The Web3 Internet is built upon four concepts: decentralization, interoperability, personal control, and free flow of information.
The Metaverse may seem like a video game world, but it can be used for communication, entertainment, or even work. Say you’re a software developer who likes to use five monitors to properly display everything you’re working on, but at the time you only have one monitor. If you have a VR headset, you can join the metaverse, put on your headset, and create the five displays you want. If you need a colleague’s help, they can join you directly in the metaverse and you can directly point it out, just like if you were together in an office. Once you’ve done with your software, you could sell it directly to another user in the metaverse, then use that revenue to purchase assets in the metaverse such as virtual real estate or NFTs.
This is just one example of the use case for the metaverse. The Metaverse can be created and used for just about everything that we do in the real world - communicating, buying and selling goods, obtaining assets such as real estate or collectibles, or even going to school and learning.
Recently, Facebook has rebranded as ‘Meta’ and has announced they will be creating the metaverse in which users can do everything they can do on Facebook, but in a virtual, immersive, world using a virtual avatar character.
Virtual reality or augmented reality are key features of the metaverse, but VR/AR equipment isn’t necessarily required to interact with the metaverse but would enhance your experience.
The Metaverse is built on and expands the use of Web3 technologies and applications, such as blockchain networks, cryptocurrencies, and digital assets like NFTs.
The Metaverse is typically deployed on servers that are part of decentralized, blockchain networks. These servers communicate with decentralized cloud storage services, such as Filebase, to store world images or program files for the Metaverse. The cloud storage service interacts with the servers running the Metaverse, constantly retrieving and sending content that is requested, like world images for a new piece of land up for sale in the Metaverse’s real estate market. Digital assets, like NFTs and cryptocurrencies, are stored in users’ crypto-wallets, like MetaMask or Coinbase.
Users join the metaverse with a virtual avatar, similar to many other online games. From here, users can interact with each other by doing just about anything, from casual, day-to-day activities to business meetings. Since the Metaverse is so flexible, users can join from around the world for important meetings and conferences, and get an experience similar to attending an event in the physical world. In fact, Bill Gates predicts that all business meetings will be held in the metaverse of some kind in just 3 years' time.
One of the benefits of being part of the metaverse is that anyone can profit from it. Just like in the physical world, you can offer services or goods in return for a profit. Payment might be made in the form of cryptocurrencies, or even NFTs, both of which are assets that fluctuate in value and have the potential to increase substantially over time. You could develop a piece of software that you sell for an NFT that, at the time, is worth 0.003 ETH, but soon skyrockets to 3 ETH.
The Metaverse is bound to change the way we interact with the internet on a daily basis. With more routine tasks and activities being moved to virtualized methods, like business meetings over Zoom or remote classroom settings, The Metaverse offers an alternative solution that enhances virtual events.
A variety of big tech companies are throwing their hat into the Metaverse ring. Along with Facebook, Microsoft, Nike, and even the NFL have begun creating their own virtual metaverse worlds. The metaverse isn’t going to be created by one company. It will be created by millions of developers, each building out their part of it.
The metaverse is an opportunity to bridge the gap between physical reality and the virtual world. It provides everyone with the ability to create a very personal space, but also access common spaces at their leisure. It’s not meant to replace our normal internet experience, it just adds features and benefits that aren't available on the Web2 version of the internet.