What Is the Metaverse and How Does It Work?
The metaverse is a virtual world. It’s a 3D computer-generated environment where you can interact with other people and do things like shopping, gaming and working.
Today, the metaverse is attracting vast amounts of capital investment, from technology companies and beyond. It’s seen by many to represent the next evolution of the internet. Although the metaverse is still in its early stages, the goal is to create a single, shared, persistent virtual space that you can access from anywhere.
For businesses, the metaverse offers a new market for advertising and promotion. It also presents a new way to deliver products and services. By investing in the metaverse, business leaders hope to enjoy the opportunity to engage customers in new ways.
How Does the Metaverse Work?
The metaverse is still being built. This means there are conflicting views on how it will come together, and how it will integrate into our digital and physical lives.
Many tech companies are investing in the metaverse and are building their own virtual worlds. The interoperability between those worlds and whether people can seamlessly move between them will depend on how the metaverse plays out in the coming years.
In each virtual world, users create an digital avatar to represent themselves. In many cases, the metaverse also uses blockchain technology to power a virtual economy. This means you can buy and sell digital assets like you would in the physical world.
What is Metaverse Technology
Several 3D technologies come together to create the metaverse experience:
Virtual Reality (VR) is a 3D computer-generated environment that can be explored and interacted with. These environments are often created using 360-degree photography or graphical design. You can be immersed in that virtual world by wearing a VR headset. By integrating objects that look and ‘feel’ real, you can experience things like you would in the physical world. VR has been heavily used in gaming and other industries such as medicine, sports and architecture.
Augmented Reality (AR) enhances the physical world with computer-generated content. This includes text, graphics and audio. These digital elements pop up as a real-time overlay, depending on what the user is looking at. Rather than creating a new virtual environment like VR, AR enhances the physical world. A common use of AR is to give interactive on-the-job training.
Mixed Reality (MR) is the combination of VR and AR. It brings the physical and virtual worlds together, letting you interact with both. With MR, you can manipulate both virtual and physical objects and environments at the same time.
How to Access the Metaverse
Accessing the metaverse varies from platform to platform, and is liley to flux for some time to come.
When using a VR headset, the physical world is blocked out visually. This makes the experience more immersive, as you can only see the virtual world. Handheld controllers are then used to interact with the metaverse and control your avatar.
Although the metaverse is accessible without 3D technology, the experience doesn’t offer the same immersion as a VR headset. You can navigate and interact with the metaverse on a smartphone or computer, for example, but some functionality will be limited. And you won’t ‘become’ your avatar like you would do would using VR technology.
Further Applications of the Metaverse
As the metaverse is built out and advanced, the possible applications will continue to grow. Many businesses are considering the metaverse as part of their ongoing digital transformation strategies. But what is digital transformation, and how does the metaverse fit in?
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technology into all areas of your business. It involves optimizing processes to help unlock new opportunities through digitizing products, services and operations. As a new digital platform, the metaverse can help you reach customers in new, more engaging ways.
The metaverse has many applications in healthcare. VR can improve telemedicine consultations, with doctors able to treat patients anywhere in the world in an immersive way. Rather than a simple phone or video call, patients and doctors can interact with each other more directly. The metaverse can also help patients understand the recovery process after a procedure.
Online shopping experiences are more immersive in the metaverse, as you can see and interact with products as if they were in front of you.
Communications, Media & Entertainment
VR technologies have been used in gaming for years. But the metaverse also creates many other entertainment possibilities. These include interactive storytelling, virtual concerts and attending sporting events remotely. Corporate events are also possible in the metaverse, making it easier for people to join from around the world. As hybrid working grows, creating the digital workplace in the metaverse is something many companies are looking at.
Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies & Banking
The metaverse incorporates cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to establish a digital economy. Combined with blockchain technology, this means you are likely to have full ownership of your metaverse digital assets.
Financial institutions may set up “virtual branches” to sell products or provide customer service to people in the metaverse. Financial services will also help with transferring money between the digital and physical worlds, perhaps converting cryptocurrencies to real-world currencies and vice versa.
Investing in the Metaverse
Many businesses question how they can get involved in the metaverse, and whether it’s worth the investment. There are several ways you can invest in and utilize the metaverse:
- Marketing and advertising. VR shopping, AR and immersive product demonstrations offer businesses a new way to market and advertise themselves and their products.
- Product development. Haptic technology, which creates a realistic feeling of touch, will likely be used in the metaverse to help streamline development processes. Businesses may also have potential customers test and provide feedback on products.
- Training. Employee training may become easier in the metaverse, with employees learning how to use software and systems without leaving the office.
- The virtual office: Video call software like Zoom or Google Teams is used widely in today’s workpace. In the metaverse, however, companies can have even more rich virtual meetings. This may enable a more natural collaboration than that achievable on today’s video calls.
The Future of the Metaverse
Despite the large investments that have been made, companies across various industries are still debating how the metaverse will affect our daily lives. Some doubt the suggestion that we will spend extended amounts of time in fully immersive virtual worlds, instead pointing to AR and MR as the future. However, while the future of the metaverse is still being explored, there’s no question that it represents the next step in the evolution of online connection – in whatever form that may take.
The metaverse is an exciting look at what’s coming next. As more companies invest in the metaverse, the way it will change our connected world will continue to grow, creating many opportunities for forward-thinking companies to stand out. A digital transformation consulting agency can help you understand and discover the benefits of the metaverse for your business.