The Metaverse has become a marketing buzzword after Facebook’s rebrand to Meta back in October 2021. But that doesn’t mean it’s just a buzzword. The internet had several different names at first (information superhighway, cyberspace, etc) which fell out of fashion in the early ’00s while the internet as a whole did not. The underlying technology, policies, and culture of the Metaverse are already being formed. Extended reality for the web has been in development for years.
Infrastructure is a biggie. Those are the connectivity technologies like 5G and the cloud. Blockchain technology for decentralization. Meta is building an AI supercomputer called “the AI Research SuperCluster” (RSC), which will help build upon the Metaverse.
Standards and Policies:
The Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of standards for routing and addressing packets of data across the web. This is how we can send all sorts of digital media to people all over the world as the data travels quickly across various networks. A Metaverse as a network of virtual worlds would also need open standards. There are organizations working on this like Khronos with OpenXR.
Much of the laws surrounding the internet, such as with cyberbullying, will likely carry over to the Metaverse. Decentralization could help with democratization by taking power out of centralized companies and routing decisions to the user base.
This is the human connection to the Metaverse. Stuff that will help the consumer become immersed in the Metaverse. This includes consumer hardware such as VR headsets and AR glasses. Apple is expected to make a huge splash in this market soon. Software for spatial computing is also critical for mixed reality applications.
Haptic wearables are also being developed for the Metaverse so users can feel the virtual objects they touch. Companies like bHaptics have already released products. There is also development in footwear and treadmills that help with walking in the Metaverse. Ekto VR has created motorized boots which slides you back to your physical space as you walk through virtual environments.
Edge computing (the deployment of computing and storage resources to devices rather than at data centers like with cloud computing) will help make our experiences in the Metaverse be more responsive. We won’t have to have delays as our data gets sent to a server farm and then back to our device for basic interactions.
Navigating the Metaverse will likely involve an evolved version of today’s internet browser. Like Metaverse “lobbies” that offer portals to different platforms.
User Tools And Economy:
Something significant happened when the internet moved from the static read-only days of the web1 internet in the 90s to the web2 internet we have today. Now, there is a large amount of daily user-generated content on the internet. Users can make posts and interact with other users. A Metaverse needs design tools for users to create digital assets for e-commerce and to own for themselves. A creator economy.
The Metaverse will be a big place. On the internet, we often carry our identity (username, profile pic, and bio) to several different platforms. When we’re traveling between virtual worlds many of us will want our avatars to carry our virtual belongings with us. Cryptocurrencies are perfect for quick peer-to-peer payments within a global user-base and NFTs as identity verification, 3D virtual belongings, and land. These two developments in particular are shaping the Metaverse economy.
Media and Location Based Entertainment
The media will and is playing a crucial role in the development in the Metaverse as it affects the public’s understanding of what’s being done. Similarly location-based entertainment (LBE) plays a significant role in getting people to try out these extended reality devices and tools for the first time. Similar to the rise of internet cafes in the 90s.