Most of us have heard of the metaverse when Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, announced that Facebook will become a part of the Metaverse, the virtual reality that is managed only by technology. However, the term metaverse was already in use decades ago, and its meaning surpasses Zuckerberg’s idea of connecting digital spacing to provide users with an escape to a technology-supported virtual world. From companies that are already working on building metaverse, such as WebAR example, where an AR game developer platform is converting to a metaverse platform, to giants like Microsoft, the metaverse is becoming something you should know about.

What’s Metaverse?

The first time the concept of metaverse appeared was in the novel Snow Crash back in 1992. After that, a few companies have worked on developing online communities based on the metaverse concept, but the only one worth mentioning was Second Life, which was released in 2003.

The idea of the metaverse is that people utilize their avatars to represent them, communicate with others, and virtually build a community. In the metaverse, people use digital currency to purchase clothes, in-game objects for their preferred video games, and numerous other items. Besides online shopping, users can also virtually travel through this virtual reality to explore what is surrounding them, using only a VR headset and controllers.

In the above-mentioned novel, the author Neal Stephenson coined this term to refer to the next-generation virtual reality based-internet. The way that Stephenson’s users were achieving status was by technical skill, displayed through the user’s avatar. This led to another novel that played around with the concept of metaverse - Ready Player One. This novel was made into a movie later, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. The story is set in 2045, where people are escaping their problems by plaguing Earth in an alternative, virtual world named The Oasis.

Metaverse vs. Internet

As a pretty complex term, the metaverse is still confusing many people. Most of the questions related to its meaning are the ways it actually differentiates from the internet. The term the internet is used to describe a network of billions of computers, servers, and other electronic devices. When they are online, the internet users can use the network connection to communicate with each other, access and interact with different websites, and purchase and sell goods and services.

Metaverse can’t be compared to the internet, but rather built on it. When it comes to the metaverse, users enter a virtual world that imitates the aspects of the physical world by using certain technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, social media, and digital currency. Simply put, people use the internet to browse, but they can live in the metaverse to a certain degree.

Metaverse Companies

Although it got the most attention when it started talking about metaverse, Facebook is not the only company focused on delivering a metaverse experience to users. When announcing metaverse, Zuckerberg said it represents a fundamental change and forms a crucial part of the social media experience. He also added that Facebook is a metaverse-first, not a Facebook-first company, meaning users will not need to have a Facebook account to utilize other services available to them in the metaverse.

Another metaverse company is Epic Games, creators of the online shooter game and now metaverse VR game, Fortnite, which gathers around 350 million users. The company aims to stake a claim in the metaverse following a $1 billion funding from 2021. Their vision differs from Facebook because Epic Fames wants to provide a communal space for all users to interact, but without a news feed filled with numerous ads.

Microsoft is another company playing with the concept of the metaverse. This software giant announces it will release Mesh for Microsoft Teams this year, which will allow Teams users to join collaborative and share their holographic experiences during meetings from different physical locations. Mesh will allow users to establish their virtual presence on any device through avatars or themselves.

In Final Words

There is no doubt that metaverse will make a great impact not only on the gaming industry and entertainment aspect of online experience but also in other industries. For instance, being able to purchase in this virtual world creates the need for the application of metaverse in eCommerce. This means that brands that are not strictly oriented towards testing and developing metaverse can already start to maximize their benefits.

Author's Bio: 

I am a computer science professor. Being a tech enthusiast I keep close tabs on trends and will be glad to share and discuss the latest wrapups in the field with the community.