If you follow the tech world even casually, you’ve heard the word “metaverse” tossed around more often lately. The term was originally coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cult classic novel “Snow Crash“. 30 years on, the metaverse has made a grand reappearance in the public view, ever since Facebook announced on October 28, 2021 it would change its name to Meta, as in metaverse.
Facebook and other social media platforms have changed the way people connect with each other in every arena of life, including how we do business. The name change signals that Meta intends to become the lead architect of the metaverse. It also hints at another huge shift in how we human beings will spend our time and money — even the nature of money as we know it may change.
To adapt to these changes, business leaders will need at least a basic understanding of the metaverse, what it means for business and how to navigate through this strange new world.
The metaverse is already here
Broadly defined, the metaverse is a parallel reality that exists inside the internet, where real people and organizations are represented by domains, online profiles, user accounts, and so on. No single entity owns the metaverse or controls its destiny.
In its present form, the metaverse is mostly a two-dimensional world. PCs and smart devices allow us to peek inside, but we’re still limited to what we can do with a mouse and keyboard or a touchscreen. Smart device makers have added voice and facial recognition, along with other haptics that allows more automatic and natural-feeling input, but we’re still on the outside looking in.
The metaverse is more than virtual reality
As the metaverse evolves, we won’t simply peer through a windowpane at the digital world. Rather, we’ll socialize and do business in a digital environment so realistic, our senses may struggle to tell it apart from the real one. We can think of it as a very realistic dream, except that everyone else’s dreams are somehow woven together with our own.
The concept of the metaverse has existed for a long time. Hit movies like “Ready Player One” in 2018 and “The Matrix” nearly two decades earlier showed us what the metaverse could look like, though they painted a somewhat dark picture of it.
What makes the metaverse possible now is the convergence of advanced virtual reality (VR) technology and nearly universal high-speed internet connectivity. Already, 3D goggles can create the illusion of an alternate reality. VR handsets and other sensors attached to our bodies can translate our physical movements into actions happening inside the virtual environment. And, we’re not alone in there — our friends and coworkers are there, too, seeing the same things we do with their own VR goggles.
These technologies mimic the real world in breathtaking detail, without its natural limitations. Today, you can conduct a video call with coworkers, but imagine sitting down with realistic-looking avatars of those same folks in a 3D virtual conference room that looks like the real one at your office. Better still, wouldn’t everyone appreciate meeting on the lanai at a beachfront resort in Maui? How about on the moons of Jupiter?
Here’s a rundown of some of the metaverse’s more significant characteristics:
- Shared — virtual environments are connected to one another.
- Immersive — you feel as if you’re there.
- Imaginative — the laws of nature don’t apply.
- Immediate — interactions happen in real-time.
- Persistent — it’s always on.
- Dynamic — the environment constantly changes.
Is the metaverse just a shiny new toy?
The current buzz surrounding the metaverse focuses mostly on how it can be used for fun: gaming, entertainment, social gatherings, etc. But, just as the internet launched new industries (like telemedicine), the metaverse will spur innovation within conventional areas of the economy, too.
Does your business sell a physical product? Companies like Nike already allow buyers to design their own custom pair of shoes. Why not let your digital avatar try before you buy? This concept could apply to everything from cars to chainsaws.
What about a service business? Imagine an architect guiding clients on a 3D walkthrough of their new building space, without either one needing to leave their own offices. Seeing the finished product before the first shovel digs into the ground could prevent costly delays and wasted materials.
Companies can use the metaverse to change the way they interact with employees, too. An immersive, sensory-rich virtual space could dramatically improve engagement for remote workers, allowing them to feel connected with team members in different geographic locations. Training activities that once required the physical presence of participants can be conducted inside the metaverse.
Becoming well-versed in the metaverse
Like any great leap forward in technology, the emergence of the metaverse will create winners and losers. Businesses will need to recalibrate their business models to adjust to the new marketplace.
Navigating the metaverse successfully will also require choosing the right technology partners. Intrepid Data is one of the builders of the metaverse. We understand the new market opportunities and productivity gains the metaverse offers. We can empower your business to take advantage of these benefits in a way that fits your budget and your schedule. Check out our website to learn more or request a demonstration of our capabilities.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/3JRm3mL
Robert Endo is the Metaverse Architect and Engagement Manager of Intrepid Data.
Intrepid Data is a full-service developer that builds platforms for web-based applications