The Metaverse Explained: Everything You Need to Know

In simple words, the metaverse is the next generation of connecting in the virtual world. We’ve progressed from televisions to computers to smart phones, and the next step of that chain is the metaverse. It is a complete change in the way we interact, trade, and co-exist with one another. The barriers that were so clear will no longer be relevant. You will not need to travel for 14 hours to reach a destination, but rather teleport there instantly.

Whether it is 10 or 20 years from now, the full integration of the metaverse is a point in time where our digital lives are as valuable (or even more so) than our physical ones. There will be many metaverses and metaworlds for different areas of our lives. For instance, we can expect to see a metaverse for retail where we can access different metaworlds within that verse. The same will occur for every industry such as entertainment, fitness, and business. The metaverse will be a global digital economy where moving between different metaverses is the norm. Let’s dig into what the metaverse actually is and everything you need to know about it.

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a common space in the virtual world where individuals can interact with each other in real-time to socialize, play, entertain, work, or even play sports. Think of the metaverse as the next stage of the internet. In the same manner that you use the internet to access different websites, the metaverse can be used to enter different metaworlds within it. Various metaverses will exist for different industries where interoperability and movement will be done freely.

Using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, the metaverse creates an ‘embodied internet’. This refers to an immersive experience where you are not just looking at a screen, but actually inside these experiences themselves.

"The feeling of presence, this is the defining quality of the metaverse."

Mark Zuckerburg

The metaverse will allow individuals to interact through life-like online environments that create multi-dimensional digital connections. For instance, you will be able to play a game of chess with your friend across the world as though you were right next to them.

Two individuals located in different countries playing chess together in the metaverse using VR and AR technology. PHOTO: META

How Does the Metaverse Work?

There is no one way in which the metaverse works, it is a compilation of different technologies and approaches. These include things like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and more. 

Virtual Reality (VR) and the Metaverse

Virtual reality in the metaverse allows you to be present in an alternate universe where you can physically move and interact with elements as though it were real. This is typically done through VR glasses or headsets. These smart glasses automatically teleport you to another world where you can engage in countless activities as yourself or a 3D avatar.

For example, through the education metaverse, a student who studies paleontology will be able to teleport to the Mesozoic Era to learn everything there is to know about dinosaurs. The student can discover these ancient reptiles by walking next to them, inspecting their true size, watching their movements and existing next to them in the digital world.

Augmented Reality (AR) and the Metaverse

Augmented reality in the metaverse is when the physical world merges with the digital world. This happens when the real-world is layered with computer-generated elements making it seem as though they exist in reality. The main difference between VR and AR is that VR teleports you to a completely new environment whereas AR enhances our existing surroundings. A current example of this is Pokémon GO where users have to explore real locations and use their devices to find Pokémon characters. Similarly, the metaverse will have countless AR integrations across different metaverses such as gaming, retail, entertainment, and work.

A user catching a Pokémon in the real-world using AR technology. PHOTO: DOCTISSIMO

Avatars and the Metaverse

Nowadays most people represent themselves through profile pictures on digital platforms. You may have a professional display picture on LinkedIn, but a relaxed one on Instagram. Likewise, you will be able to represent yourself digitally in the metaverse using 3D avatars.

Avatars will become the common mode of representation and you may adapt them according to the metaverse you’re in. You will be able to choose from a variety of outfits, accessories, skins, or completely different avatars. You may even purchase designer NFTs and wear them across different metaverses. In summary, your avatar can maintain your virtual identity and freely move from one verse to another.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the Metaverse

NFTs are unique digital assets that cannot be duplicated or replaced. Once someone purchases a NFT, they are the sole owners of the original asset. NFTs can be any digital assets such as videos, art, clothes, real estate, or even tweets. Given NFTs uniqueness, they are securely recorded and stored on blockchain (the same technology used for cryptocurrency).

NFTs in the metaverse will act equivalently to capital owned in the physical world. Your NFTs will hold the same value across all metaverses, similar to owning a car or house in real-life. NFTs have the same value as investing in a Birkin bag or Rolex watch.

Some note-worthy NFTs that have already been traded are:

Cryptocurrency and the Metaverse

In blockchain-based metaverses, cryptocurrency will be the universally accepted form of payment. These metaverses use crypto for a wide array of transactions like trading NFTs, purchasing digital equipment, personalizing your avatar, and accessing virtual environments and games.

To elaborate, in The Sandbox metaverse, users must use ‘SAND’ cryptocurrency token to participate in the game and virtual world.

What Are Some Examples of Metaverse Companies?

1. Meta Platforms

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has rebranded itself as a ‘social technology company’ completely focused on the metaverse. Meta is planning to build different metaverses for social connection, entertainment, gaming, fitness, education, e-commerce and work. For example, in Horizon Home, users will be able to build and create their personal home spaces where they can invite friends to gather, play and use different apps together. For a full know-how of what Meta envisions, visit here.

2. Roblox

Roblox is a 3D world where users can socialize and play games created by other users. Roblox is one of the world’s most popular games due to players being able to build and host their own games on the platform. Currently Roblox hosts over 40 million games, 9.5 million developers and 47.3 million average daily active users. (source)

Roblox is a metaverse platform where global brands can build their own metaworlds. For instance, Nike has delved into the metaverse by building ‘Nikeland‘ on Roblox. Users can play mini-games such as tag and the floor is lava, use offline body movements within live games, and purchase Nike outfits for their avatars. 

3. Decentraland

Decentraland is a blockchain-based metaverse where users can buy plots of land, customize and monetize them, and interact with other users. Decentraland uses the MANA token as its official currency which runs on the Ethereum (ETH)  blockchain. MANA holders have authorities on policy updates, LAND auctions, and content in Decentraland. This metaverse is well-known for its monetizing opportunities such as leasing and advertising LAND, and trading items.

3. The Sandbox

The Sandbox is an Ethereum-based metaverse with the official currency of SAND. Users in this metaverse can interact, play, build and own 3D virtual worlds. Similar to Decentraland, players can own, customize, and sell plots of land as NFTs. Users can also trade other digital assets such as 3D avatars, animals and tools. Additionally, players can build games within the platform and monetize them.

4. HoloFair

HoloFair is MENA’s first 3D virtual events platform where users attend events, network, explore 3D environments, and play in the metaverse. Users navigate through the platform using avatars in real-time. The platform is best known for hosting immersive virtual events, virtual exhibitions, and team-building events. For example, Pyxis and its sister companies hosted their annual staff gathering on HoloFair which included a series of activities such as treasure hunts and Wall of Fame tunnels. View the event video here.

Summary

The metaverse is a completely new way of connecting in the digital world through a series of integrated technologies. The metaverse will completely change the way we interact in the online world. Through multi-dimensional technology, our physical and virtual worlds will combine and digital connections will resemble physical ones. We can expect to see different metaverses for different industries and unique capabilities within each metaworld. We’re still a long way from the full potential of the metaverse, but the future is much closer than we think.

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