At the Facebook Connect keynote on 28 October, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced its new name and in less than 90 minutes, Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues mentioned the word ‘metaverse’ 80+ times.
Lately, the term 'Metaverse' has become quite a huge buzzword, especially after the social media giant, Facebook, announced their name change recently. Why should we invest in the metaverse? How does it relate to the world we live in today? What does it mean? A lot of people have started asking questions and searching for the term on Google. Let's dig in and get our questions answered.
What is the Metaverse?
In his 1992 novel Snow Crash, science fiction writer Neal Stephenson used the term "metaverse" to refer to an artificial universe created by computers. Most people view it as a highly interactive, shared virtual world where they meet to play games, socialize, and work.
The metaverse is also linked to the development of Web 3.0. Web 3.0 is considered by some to be the next chapter of the internet. It will be based on blockchain technology that could democratize access and power while weakening the grip of the biggest tech companies. There is nothing new about the concept. Second Life (launched by Linden Lab in 2003) and Habbo Hotel, a product of Finland's Sulake, were forerunners of the metaverse in the early 2000s. Since then, both have dropped off many people's radars, but Second Life still has around 200,000 daily active users.
Facebook Connect keynote speaker Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the need to build safety and privacy into the metaverse from day one. Legal experts warn that disputes over intellectual property and ownership will crop up in the metaverse, as will issues with data protection, content licensing, and risks associated with crypto assets. For the rules to be established, several lawsuits will have to be filed - for example, in September, Roblox settled a lawsuit with the US National Music Publishers Association, which enables artists to debut their music in the metaverse.
By doing away with an intermediary, humans, machines, and businesses will become able to trade value, information, and work with global counterparties that they may not even know. As a result of Web 3.0, global coordination requires less trust. It has become more important for a network to trust all its constituents implicitly rather than explicitly, or to seek to achieve trust in extrinsic ways.
As part of Web 3.0, humans and machines will interact in ways we cannot imagine today, on a scale and scope that is unprecedented. As the range of potential counterparties increases, these interactions will be possible, including seamless payments, enhanced information flows, and trusted data transfers. We will be able to communicate with anyone and any machine, anywhere in the world, without having to pay middlemen fees. Previously unimaginable business models and business models emerged with this shift: from global cooperatives to decentralised autonomous organisations to self-sovereign data markets. It is now evident how closely related Web 3.0 - the evolution of the internet - and the metaverse are.
The tech company Meta, which probably has the highest stake in the metaverse at the moment, describes it as follows: “The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
How are Companies Implementing the Metaverse?
Several metaverse companies are also exploring the possibility of hosting sports events for thousands at once. There are also plans to expand the use of metaverse spaces to businesses so that employees can attend and participate in meetings, or shop online and try on clothes digitally. Within five to ten years, Meta will transform from a social media company into a metaverse company, and already has products that will get us closer to the metaverse. As one example, Horizon lets you explore virtual worlds, connect with people around the world, and participate in fun challenges. If you wanted, you could even build your own virtual world, where employees can collaborate with their own avatars regardless of distance in a virtual room called Workroom.
Epic Games have also entered the metaverse. Among their most popular titles are Unreal, Roblox, and Fortnight. Meta-like elements in these games allow players to use the same avatar across multiple virtual worlds. Currently, Epic is working to create a decentralized metaverse to prevent a single company from having too much control over the metaverse. One company controlling the metaverse could control our lives excessively and have access to most of our private interactions. In recent months, Google launched Project Starline, a platform that creates the sense of being in the same room for virtual meetings without requiring headsets. Companies using the technology need to purchase a special booth with a 65-inch screen to enable users to engage in a live video call with a life-size person in front of them.
The adidas brand has entered the metaverse too, through the release of an exclusive Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP) Non-Fungible Token (NFT). In digital ledgers or blockchains, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique and non-transferable units of data. In both real-world and virtual events, POAPs are given out as a unique badge to attendees. In addition to recording life events, some predict that POAPs will play a much larger role in the digital economy in the future.
Nike has even released a virtual world within Roblox called 'Nikeland,' where users can interact with free online sports games. They have become one of the first major brands to embrace the Metaverse that Mark Zuckerberg is building. Nike said in a statement, "Nike created this bespoke world against the backdrop of its world headquarters and within Roblox's immersive 3D space, based on its goal of making sport and gaming a lifestyle."
These are only a handful of companies that are already playing in the metaverse, and soon, companies will have to catch up to stay competitive in the online world.
How does the Metaverse Relate to STADIO Qualifications?
The metaverse contains avatars, graphics and lots of animation and movement. But how do these graphics function or think for themselves? For the metaverse to fully function it is necessary to include great graphics as well as efficient backend logic code. For these to actually run and do what you want, you need the right equipment and tech to get the full experience of the metaverse including virtual and augmented reality.
Therefore, A combination of the elements of the School of Media and Design and School of Information Technology will be required to build a fully functional metaverse. These two schools supply more than enough knowledge and skills for students to give enough input into the world of the metaverse and still there is so much more to learn.
These two schools in STADIO houses a wide variety of programs such as Visual Communication, 3D Animation, Web Design, Web Development, Photography, and Azure short courses and so much more. All of the knowledge in these programmes works in harmony to be able to create a whole new metaverse. The lecturers in these two schools feel confident that what we do is a part of what the metaverse requires, especially with regards to the 3D animation where augmented and virtual reality can be implemented, photography, to create and design new worlds and backdrops. In a vision of the future, the metaverse could be used to take students on excursions without even leaving the classroom.
The metaverse and Web 3.0 are reaching far beyond cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, Web 3.0 will cryptographically connect individuals, corporations, and machine data, with efficient machine learning algorithms, leading to fundamentally new markets and business models and combining everything into one metaverse. As a result, we are returning to the era where human-centric & highly individualised interactions were the norm, which now happen in a global setting with the internet and support an ever-increasing diversity of human and machine specialisations.
For more information, visit the School of Media and Design at School of Media & Design OR the School of Information Technology at School of Information Technology