Confused by all the announcements proclaiming that everyone from brands to banks have entered the Metaverse?
Worried that you might have missed a secret door and instead of reading this, you should be cavorting somewhere in a virtual world?
We asked Nameet Potnis, Founder of NFT portfolio management platform, Asset.money, to give you some straight answers to questions you didn’t know whom to ask. (We also recommend you sign up to their newsletter The Token Dispatch if you want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in and around the Blockchain.)
- What is the Metaverse?
- How is the Metaverse different to platforms like Second Life?
- Is the Metaverse here already?
- How is everyone doing their own version of the Metaverse? If it is the future of the Internet, don’t these different platforms need to be connected?
- Facebook even changes its name to Meta: how are they taking the lead in the Metaverse?
- Will participating in the Metaverse need me to wear those clunky VR glasses or any other physical devices?
- I have FOMO every time I hear the word Metaverse. How should I begin educating myself?
1. What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse could be the next frontier of the Internet. It is a network of integrated platforms and will include aspects like 3D, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and the Blockchain, for immersive, quick and code-trusted experiences.
The Internet as we know it today is a largely 2D experience that you ‘browse.’ The Metaverse is likely to be a more immersive experience, where you could ‘live’ via a digital avatar.
2. How is the Metaverse different to platforms like Second Life?
Actually, the Metaverse experience is likely to be quite similar to Second Life or The Sims. But, the expanse of things one can do will be drastically different and the layer between our online and offline lives will gradually fade away.
So, maybe it won’t be Second Life but the ‘Same Life.’
Also, in the true realisation of the Metaverse, we may have interoperability, which means different platforms will be connected and you can move across them seamlessly. Of course, this will depend on who is in control of the open and closed ecosystems.
3. Is the Metaverse here already?
No, it isn’t (so relax)
We are still working on making the different building blocks of the Metaverse
Big tech companies like Apple, Facebook/Meta and Google are working on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
Gaming companies like Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite are working on avatars. They are also trying to create one-stop-shop experiences for the metaverse. (Think of them as virtual amusement parks).
Crypto platforms are working on the financial and policy rails.
Eventually, all of these will come together in both the open and closed mediums that will make up the Metaverse.
4. Then what about all these reports saying someone launched a brand in the Metaverse, or someone set up offices in the Metaverse?
Like you, everyone wants to understand this emerging paradigm better. Brands especially need to understand what the evolution of the Metaverse could mean for communication and commerce. (What, for instance, would a billboard or store in the Metaverse look like, when all physical constraints are removed?)
From luxury brands like Gucci who bought a plot of digital land in The Sandbox, to banks like JP Morgan who have set up offices in Decentraland, everyone is creating virtual spaces on different platforms where employees and customers can interact with each other and amongst themselves.
We are also seeing media houses like Vice and communication companies like WPP, set up ‘Metaverse foundries’ where customers and brands can start experimenting.
All these are experiments to understand the future of the Internet – almost the equivalent of the early websites, pre-1995.
The media picks this up these stories and uses the term ‘Metaverse’ indiscriminately and we have announcements proclaiming the first car dealership or the first office in the Metaverse. We have a way to go before that actually happens.
5. OK, that makes sense but how is everyone doing their own version of the Metaverse? If it is the future of the Internet, don’t these different platforms need to be connected?
Absolutely! A virtual world needs to have a new set of rules, and people are trying to create a virtual world that better frames – and builds on – what we have physically. Thus, everyone has a different idea and they’re building it.
Meta is building their version of a virtual world called Horizons. All interactions here will be owned, built and controlled by Facebook. On the other hand, Decentraland and Sandbox have created a concept around ‘virtual land’ where you could buy land and then build your own world.
The worlds built on open platforms could be cross-connected and open to all.
6. Facebook even changes its name to Meta: how are they taking the lead in the Metaverse?
While one can only speculate why Facebook changed its name to Meta, they are building a centralised product for companies to do virtual meetings called Horizons. They have also bought, invested and marketed the Oculus headset, which allows users to experience a virtual world. Over 10 million units of this headset have been sold.
Facebook is just one player in the Metaverse ecosystem. There are many others, including Apple, and the game is still wide open.
7. Will participating in the Metaverse need me to wear those clunky VR glasses or any other physical devices?
No, not as of now.
There will be open-world setups like the Grand Theft Auto game where one can do everything from the screen itself. But over time, VR or AR might become important for more immersive experiences.
Hopefully the technology will evolve so wearables feel much more natural.
8. I have FOMO every time I hear the word Metaverse. How should I begin educating myself?
With all the hype surrounding us, that’s a natural feeling but remember we’re still very early.
We overestimate the impact of tech in the short run and underestimate its effect in the longer run.
You could stay in touch by reading the many great resources and explainers out there (too many to count) but to truly understand where this is going, get your feet wet.
Many platforms require a crypto wallet, but there are also options to have an experience as a guest on Decentraland, Second Life and others. Set up a free account, spend some time to get a first-hand glimpse into the life you may be living a few years down the line.
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