Are you ready for the Metaverse?

Apart from vaccines for COVID-19, 2021 offered a new buzzword, the Metaverse. Not that the term is a new one. It was coined way back in 1992 by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson for his novel “Snow Crash”. What reignited the spark was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement his company will now be called Meta Platforms Inc. and that he’ll be investing hugely in creating a metaverse.

Now, what exactly is a metaverse?

If you are a fan of Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) and have had a brush with games like Mine Craft, Second Life, or Fortnite, you have had a close call with the metaverse. Metaverse, to put it very simply, is a virtual environment or a virtual world powered by the internet and rendered in 3D. Unlike AR/VR, you don’t just view this world on a screen but can live in it and be a part of it. It’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities giving opportunities for people to meet, work, and play. All you need is virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps, and/or specified devices.

The Technology powering Metaverse

Speaking of technology, what do you need to get going with the metaverse? On the Hardware front, one needs general-purpose computers and smartphones which can support AR, mixed reality, VR, and virtual world technologies. The current hardware available is all limited by one factor or the other. Some lack portability, some are too costly for widespread use, while still others lack the high-quality graphics required for a real-life-like experience. So companies are focused on overcoming the limitations of VR headsets, sensors, and increasing immersion with haptic technology.

On the software front, there is no wide-scale standardized technical specification for metaverse implementations. The existing ones are primarily proprietary technology. Interoperability is a foremost concern in metaverse development. This has led to several efforts being made at standardizing the virtual environment. Universal Scene Description(USD), created by Pixar and supported by Blender, Apple’s Scenekit, and Autodesk 3ds Max will be used by NVIDIA for their metaverse development tools. OpenXR has been adopted by Microsoft for HoloLens 2 and Meta Platforms for the Oculus Quest.

What does the Metaverse offer currently?

The metaverse right now is in an elementary stage with building blocks or virtual worlds being created by individual firms, waiting for better interoperability or unification. So one can help you attend virtual concerts, other can help you live a virtual life using a digital avatar. Remote work and online shopping can also get a makeover with the metaverse.

The Concerns

Even before its realization, the concept of the metaverse is raising concerns over how individuality, information, and privacy will be defended in the virtual world. Companies are already collecting user information through interactions raising questions over how they are to be utilized. User addiction and problematic social media use are concerns too. Internet addiction disorder and video game addiction can have a long-term impact on mental and physical health. Social media and the internet are already being blamed for the rise in depression, anxiety, and lifestyle diseases. Experts are concerned that metaverses could emerge as places where users would like to ‘escape’ from reality.

What to expect?

Tech companies have still not found a way to connect their individual platforms. Standardization of equipment and technology is a major roadblock in creating a unified metaverse. So what we have right now are chunks of the virtual world that will one day be the metaverse. While the tech companies frantically try to create that one metaverse, users can patiently wait and play a game or two in a virtual world of their liking.


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