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What is Metaverse? Everything You Need to Know About Meta AI

In July 2021 Mark Zuckerberg staked Facebook's future on the Metaverse. To prove he was serious, he renamed the company Meta and promised to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a Metaverse platform. He isn't alone, other companies are also working on their plans for the Metaverse, the expected next iteration of the internet.

facebook metaverse mark zuckerberg explaining

The Metaverse is difficult to define, it's usually described as online spaces where people socialize, work and play as avatars. Digital representations of their identities unlike a Zoom chat, the spaces don't disappear when you're done, they're there for someone else to use. Though it's often name checked in the tech world. The Metaverse is still a fuzzy idea for people outside the industry. I mean the Metaverse is clearly a term of great currency in this moment in time and I think for right now 2022, the Metaverse is a story we are telling about what the future of technical infrastructures might look like, when you combine virtual reality, augmented reality, high-speed internet connections and some kind of notion of a virtual space. You might occupy with other people, so an easy answer to the Metaverse is well it's you know the next version of the future of computing. The more complicated answer is of course it's a story about how we imagine the world.

Meta and other companies tout the Metaverse as an evolution of the internet, a virtual world that parallels our lives in the real world. But it's an idea that's been tossed around for decades and tried before. One of the other ways to think about the Metaverse is that it's always already existed in different pockets of the world. So whether you were someone engaging in gaming experiences, whether those were multiplayer games or whether those were deeply immersive games. If you were engaging in other kinds of online communities, there's an argument to say that the Metaverse is already here, just wasn't called that.

Also Read: Facebook’s Plan To Take Over Virtual Reality Explained

Roblox and Minecraft have been building virtual worlds for years. Second Life, Fortnite, Minecraft and other games all incorporate aspects of virtual augmented or mixed reality to create an immersive gaming experience for users. If you're unfamiliar with the term, virtual reality refers to entirely digital spaces that are accessed through hardware like the Oculus Headset. These headsets use special lens technology cameras and motion tracking controllers to fully immerse you in their digital worlds where objects can seem real, even when they aren't.

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Augmented Reality is a related but different technology. AR brings digital objects into the real world often with no headset required. Though there are some AR headsets on the Market, some experts see augmented reality as a gateway to broader acceptance of the Metaverse. The technology has continued to advance and continue to find touch points in all of our lives. Whether it's through you know mobile phones connected to the internet or other forms of connectivity, Smart TV, all those sort of pieces of the puzzle advances in software have introduced users to more realistic experiences through higher levels of fidelity The degree of real-world exactness that's digitally reproduced.

However critics say more work is needed in order for the technology to deliver the fidelity the Metaverse needs. It can be easy to get carried away in like this Nirvana state of what's being sold to us, but we need to think about what's right in front of us, right now. We're now starting to see some Metaverses being made available on mobile platforms as well as through even the web browser. So we're starting to see a shift towards accessibility that also comes typically at the cost of fidelity beyond the technical aspects of the Metaverse.

Another area of concern is Who builds and controls the Metaverse?

A corporate version of the Metaverse one that's built by existing tech companies risks repeating problems that already plague social media. Some people worry bias, bullying, misinformation and harassment could even be magnified in the Metaverse because it's an immersive environment. It's one thing to send 180 characters to somebody over twitter and another thing entirely to bully somebody in a Metaverse type space where your brain has tricked you into feeling like you're really there. That's I think the potential for abuse in the Metaverse that the argument that maybe we need to get ahead of this. Other critics believe that user-generated content will be the building blocks of the Metaverse, like current and previous iterations of virtual platforms like the game's Second Life. But even in Second Life, larger entities like corporations and businesses still had a hand in shaping the space.

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I'm not sure it's as straightforward as saying it's either large tech companies or it's user generated. I think it's usually a little bit of drift between both of those things and I think that undercourse the role of governments in all of this and the role of sort of social institutions whether the Metaverse will come together as a single platform is an open question. Right now, industry standards don't exist for the Metaverse. That means big companies are competing to lay the foundation others will have to follow a pattern that was established with the development of the internet.

facebook metaverse all avatars explained

One of the really interesting facets of the Metaverse and of calling this constellation of technologies and experiences as the Metaverse is that it creates the opportunity to build a platform and the thing about platforms is that, if you build them right which is usually open and with standards, you can move things between pieces of the platform. So when we think about the internet whilst we may experience it via a particular service provider or a particular device, the underlying architecture is such that it can be delivered in lots of different places.

Zuckerberg arguably Metaverse's biggest champion says interoperability among applications is crucial to get people to use the Metaverse. That means companies will need to collaborate so people using the Metaverse can move freely between platforms and experiences. For instance if you have an avatar in Meta's Metaverse, ideally you should be able to use the same avatar when moving to a Microsoft platform. That however is easier said than done. If you're familiar with the Roblox style Lego like experience, compare that to something like Fortnite trying to take your character just take it over to Fortnite and make it work there. It just wouldn't work, you actually need to have two completely different iterations or models of your avatar. That's where I think fundamentally they're just straight up challenges that exist because no two Metaverses really are delivering a common experience.

Which are the other Metaverse Players other than Facebook?

Qualcomm, Nvidia, Valve, Epic, HTC and Apple are among the companies working on Metaverse or Metaverse-like projects. How or when these projects develop is anyone's guess game and entertainment companies like Stageverse, which digitally reproduce concerts and festivals have been operating in a Metaverse-like environment for years. But with more companies adopting a hybrid work model, the Metaverse could also come to the world of work.

Also Read: Apple vs Facebook: The Privacy Battle Explained

What is the Future of Metaverse?

A 2020 report from consultancy PWC predicts that nearly 23 and a half million jobs worldwide will use AR and VR by 2030. The technology will be used for tasks like employee training, meetings and customer service. According to PWC the Metaverse could also offer new economic opportunities such as game creation, virtual retail or digital asset trading. The virtual world could be a source of real money. I think there's a good argument that over the long run you could potentially create a new class of economic participants who could share in the upside of this new platform shift. Right through maybe token economics, through game mechanics and so forth that you're already starting to see.But I think the Metaverse is potentially a really lucrative place for creators to kind of populate this new world and make a great living doing so.

facebook metaverse explained

How widespread the Metaverse becomes is in part dependent on how many people get on the internet. A little less than two-thirds of the world's population had access to the internet in 2021 according to the ITU. Without basic accessibility to the internet, widespread adoption among a global community of users will be a challenge. Companies building the Metaverse will need to first see the digital divide is bridged if they want their virtual world to attract people from around the globe.

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When I think about the Metaverse, my hope for it is that we can be really mindful about what's happened when we've built large technology apparatus and infrastructure in the past and that as a result we go into this a little less naive and a little more deliberate about the choices we make. That also means as citizens we have an obligation to hold the organizations and our lives accountable to the values that we care about. It's unclear whether the Metaverse live up to the promises or fail to live up to the hype, what is clear you're sure to be hearing more about the Metaverse for years to come.

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