By 2026, it is predicted that 25% of people will spend more than an hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media, entertainment, and more. So what exactly is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse can be described as “a new, fully digital environment built on the Internet that fuses physical space (real) and virtual space (virtual).” The Metaverse is neither device dependent nor owned by a single vendor. It is an independent virtual economic zone realized by digital currency and NFT (Nonfungible Token: non-fungible token). NFT is a technology that can add author and owner information to digital data. For example, data can be duplicated, and it is currently considered difficult to prove which data is the original.
However, if original information is added to digital data using NFT technology, digital data can be treated as non-substitutable assets.
The Metaverse is a combinatorial innovation in that it requires multiple technologies and trends to work. Metaverse’s technology capabilities include Augmented Reality (AR), Flexible Working, Head Mounted Displays (HMD), AR Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Spatial Technologies.
The metaverse concept can be thought of as “the next version of the Internet.” The Internet, which began as a private bulletin board and an independent online venue, has evolved into a virtual shared space site. It is thought that the Metaverse will also evolve through such a process.
Why is there hype (excessive expectations) around the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is getting a lot of attention, driven by technology companies that are scrambled to become metaverse companies and those that aim to extend and enhance digital and physical worlds. For example,
• Buy clothes and accessories for your online avatar
• Purchase land in digital space and build a virtual house
• Participate in a virtual social experience
• Leverage immersive digital commerce and shop in virtual malls
• Experience immersive learning in a virtual classroom
• Digital art, collectibles, buy property (NFT)
• Engage with digital humans in business interactions such as employee onboarding, customer service, and sales
The Metaverse is expected to bring opportunities and business models with continuity, decentralization, collaboration, and Interoperability to enable organizations to scale their digital businesses.
Features of the Metaverse
• Virtual space can be accessible from anywhere in the world.
• You can control your own avatar, which is distinct from your real body, and have a realistic experience.
• No physical restrictions
You can imagine your avatar moving around, interacting with people, playing, shopping, and working in a virtual space.
There are also other applications, such as enabling remote medical care, allowing people with physical disabilities to move freely in virtual space, and enabling activities that are not physically limited.
What technologies and terms should I know in the Metaverse?
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience, typically provided by wearing VR equipment such as goggles or head-mounted displays, in which users project realistic images, sounds, and other sensations within virtual reality. You can explore virtual worlds and talk with other users using VR equipment.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) is a virtual extension of the real world by superimposing digital data such as images, sounds, sensory data, and olfactory data on existing spaces (landscapes, objects, etc.). AR is characterized by its role of seamlessly integrating the real world and the virtual world, the ability to interact with the real world in real-time, and the ability to provide services via smartphones and other devices.
Blockchain, also known as a distributed ledger, is a type of database technology that connects terminals on a network and processes transaction records in a distributed manner using cryptography. Crypto assets are also created based on this technology, and it is an essential factor in making asset exchanges safe and efficient in the Metaverse.
5G: 5th Generation
5G stands for “5th Generation” and is the next-generation communication standard. 5G features high speed, low latency, and multiple simultaneous connections are essential technologies for realizing the real-time nature of the Metaverse. In addition to the hardware, the communication environment is also necessary to participate in the Metaverse regardless of location.
A virtual world is a simulated space created on a computer that can be accessed by many users and explored simultaneously and independently using virtual individuals called avatars. In the virtual world, the user’s movements and emotions are captured in real time and reproduced (synchronized) in the virtual space. The image is similar to that of multiplayer online games, where users build their own worlds and interact with each other in the virtual world.
The virtual economy has traditionally been used simply to refer to the exchange and sale of digital items within online games. However, due to the progress of the Metaverse, the virtual economy is not only “transactions using crypto assets and real currencies” but also “currency issuance,” and the financial system that is actually performed is being carried out as it is. On the other hand, such financial transactions may be regulated in the future, and it is unclear who will manage them and to what extent they will be able to do so.
Five characteristics of the Metaverse
Metaverse is said to have five main characteristics: persistence, Infinity, autonomy, Interoperability, and real-timeness.
The Metaverse exists regardless of the physical presence of the user.
Since the Metaverse is a virtual space, it is theoretically possible to build infinitely. Users can connect with countless virtual spaces.
Autonomy means that users themselves can earn money in the Metaverse space and perform economic transactions such as purchasing things.
Interoperability assumes some support for users to move virtual items, such as avatars, from one Metaverse space to another.
The progress of time and reactions to actions are as close to real time as possible, giving the user a live feeling. However, these features are expected to change as the Metaverse and technology progress.