What Are Metaverses and How Do They Work?
A 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, metaverses receive vast investments from technology companies and beyond. They’re seen by many to represent the next evolution of the internet. Although metaverses are still in the early stages of development, the goal is to create a single, shared, persistent virtual space that you can access from anywhere.
For businesses, metaverses offers a new market for advertising and promotion and new ways to deliver products and services. Investing in metaverses will give you the opportunity to engage customers differently.
How Do Metaverses Work?
Metaverses are still being built. This means there are conflicting views on how they will come together, and how it will integrate into our digital and physical lives.
Many tech companies are investing in metaverses 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 concept 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 often created using 360-degree photography or graphical design. By wearing a VR headset with integrated objects that look and ‘feel’ real, you can be immersed in that virtual world, experiencing 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, including 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 actually enhances the physical world. A common use of AR is to participate in 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 as well as your environments at the same time.
How to Access Metaverses
Accessing metaverses 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 a metaverse and control your avatar.
Although metaverses are accessible without 3D technology, the experience doesn’t offer the same immersion as a VR headset. You can navigate and interact with a 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 Metaverses
As metaverses are built out and advanced, the possible applications will continue to grow. Many businesses are considering metaverses as part of their ongoing digital transformation strategies. But what is digital transformation, and how do metaverses 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, metaverses can help you reach customers in new, more engaging ways.
Metaverses have many applications in healthcare. For example, 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. A metaverse can also help patients understand the recovery process after a procedure.
Online shopping experiences are more immersive in a metaverse, as you can see, interact with, and try out products as if they were in front of you – all without leaving your home.
Communications, Media & Entertainment
VR technologies have been used in gaming for years. But metaverses also create many other entertainment possibilities. These include interactive storytelling, virtual concerts, and sporting events that can be attended remotely.
Corporate events are also possible in a metaverse, making it easier for people to join from around the world. As hybrid working grows, many companies are looking into creating a digital workplace in metaverses
Blockchain, Crypto-Currencies, and Banking
Metaverses 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 will likely set up “virtual branches” to sell products or provide customer service to people in a metaverse. Financial services will also help with transferring money between the digital and physical worlds, converting cryptocurrencies to real-world currencies and vice versa. In doing so, they’ll need to introduce advanced measures to protect crypto-wallets from hackers.
Investing in Metaverses
Many businesses question how they can get involved in the metaverse opportunity and whether it’s worth the investment. There are several ways you can invest in and utilize metaverses:
- 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, can be used in metaverses to help streamline development processes. You can also have potential customers test and provide feedback on products.
- Training. Employee training can become easier in a 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 the office today. In metaverses, companies can have virtual meetings using avatars. This can introduce the natural collaboration that can be difficult to achieve on video calls.
- Trust and safety: Evolving virtual spaces will bring evolving risks as well as opportunities. In metaverses, customers will be trusting businesses to look after their data and protect them from new types of malicious content. Next-level trust and safety solutions will help enterprises to gain this trust and ensure customers keep coming back.
The Future of Metaverses
Despite the large investments that have been made, companies across various industries are still debating how metaverses 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. Others question how we can make the best of metaverses, such as finding ways to navigate the new risks with content moderation while making the most of its CX opportunities.
However, while the future of metaverses is still being explored, there’s no question that they represent the next step in the evolution of online connection – whatever form that may take.
A metaverse is an exciting look at what’s coming next. As more companies invest in metaverses, the way it will change our connected world will continue to grow, creating many opportunities for forward-thinking companies to stand out. But one thing’s for sure – success in the metaverse will depend on earning customer trust.
A digital transformation consulting agency can help you understand the risks and discover the benefits of bringing your business to metaverses.