The Metaverse and its environment

A lot has been written about the Metaverse since Marc Zuckerberg announced his new vision for the then named Facebook company.

I wrote an article in January that explained why the Metaverse was happening Today, I would like to explain more in detail about the environment and all markets involved in the latest web development (also known as web 3).

As a definition, I looked at Wikipedia and found:

“In futurism and science fiction, the metaverse is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets. In colloquial use, a metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

The term “metaverse” originated in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash as a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe.” Metaverse development is often linked to advancing virtual reality technology due to increasing demands for immersion. Recent interest in metaverse development is influenced by Web3, a concept for a decentralized iteration of the internet. Web3 and The Metaverse have been used as buzzwords to exaggerate development progress of various related technologies and projects for public relations purposes. Information privacy, user addiction, and user safety are concerns within the metaverse, stemming from challenges facing the social media and video game industries as a whole.”

There are many reasons why the Metaverse is coming to market now. I have chosen 4 which can be considered as the Metaverse environment:

–         First, to optimize your experience in the Metaverse, you would need fast access to servers with performant cloud services. So users connected thanks to phones (with 5G connections), tablets and PCs (with high connectivity such as fiber, Wifi 6…) are the main beneficiaries of the Metaverse with new immersive applications/solutions.

–         The commerce world of the web 3 and the availability of blockchain technologies: This allows buying and selling things in a much easier and virtual way with NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens).  I explained NFTs in this article:

–         The expansion and adoption of new technologies such as all types of realities (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Extended Reality).

–         Finally the expansion of the social media world that will allow communication, exchange and promotion of services and assets.

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We also need to consider the facts all the technologies that make the environment mentioned above have become available to the general public. Moreover, many large companies in various fields such as social media, conventional media, Fintech, sports, retail and fashion industries have started to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in this “new” development.

Another important element is the fact that the Metaverse as we know it today, was tried before with the environment called second life that launched back in 2003. Second life did not have a chance to make it because the technologies were not mainstream and because we then lacked several elements (such as Blockchain and NFTs) as well as big companies investing large amounts of money to make it successful. Second life helps us to ensure we have learned from the past.

As a long time gamer (starting with Pong back in 1972 and continued with Atari and then all PlayStations) I am used to the Metaverse environment. We have been using AR and VR games since the PlayStation 2 and its EyeToy application launched in 2003 where you interacted through a camera on top of your TV with game characters. You were the game character and could beat all virtual assets coming at you. Since PlayStation 4, we have been enjoying VR headsets and very immersive games. This was the beginning of the development of the Metaverse.

Today, brands see the benefits that the Metaverse can bring to the table. It not only offers an immersive world that gamification mechanics have been promoting for a long time to create engagement and loyalty, but it also allows brands to reach new audiences. We now have Generation G (or Z) users coming to the market as customers and they expect new and immersive experiences. These users have been immersed in the internet and gaming for a long time now (since they can remember) and the rise of the Metaverse allows them to excel for many reasons:

–         It needs to be on and available 24/7

–         It needs to be profitable with an ecommerce focus and a viable business model

–         It needs to be real time thanks to great connectivity (for people and objects)

–         It needs to be engaging and immersive and have a non-commercial side as well (to combine business and entertainment activities)

–         It needs to combine the physical and digital worlds (what we call phygital) for hybrid approaches to business and pleasure

In summary, it needs to be ubiquitous, present or found everywhere.

Now that we understand better the whys and hows of the Metaverse, let’s have a look at the markets that are involved in this new world.

As I mentioned above, we see many companies getting involved and pouring large sums of money into the Metaverse. I am not going to name them all, but they are mainly in the following areas: Social Media, conventional Media, Fintech, Sports, Retail and Fashion industries. However, more markets will need to get involved as I believe we will see more and more applications coming to main stream market such as the luxury or art markets (as we see NFTs being minted for watches, paintings, photos…) but also the automotive market, the electronic market and any market where Extended Realities are being used across the value chain (from engineering to logistics, marketing, sales, support, communication….). The gaming market will benefit also from the rise of the Metaverse as it will allow easier ownership of virtual assets. It will be also the easiest entry point for a lot of people who have been gamers for years (like myself). My first Metaverse experience besides games was with Nikeland on Roblox (Nike).

The legal market will also need to evolve and transform itself. It will need to prepare contracts for the commerce side of the Metaverse, but it will also need to prepare itself and serve clients present in the Metaverse in a new and disruptive way.

The metaverse will allow us to create cities and check their efficiency in terms of traffic, energy, better living conditions and efficient governance. We will be able to live a virtual experience and understand the consequences of our actions before we move them to a concrete world. The concept of smart cities and digital twins will be enhanced and more efficient.

Finally, I would like to share a wider element to the Metaverse. I strongly believe that working in the Metaverse will ensure better collaboration, better learning and will definitely reshape the way we work in very disruptive but positive way. Thanks to Covid 19, we now have experienced the use of digital tools that allow us to be performant on different platforms (like Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype). The Metaverse will allow us with the use of avatars to participate, vote, communicate in unsettling ways.

As a conclusion, I would like to focus on the issues that the Metaverse could bring if we are not careful. Cyber security will need to be tightened as with every new development, risks to personal data could be higher. The Metaverse is coming to life in a very efficient way because new technology allow it to, but let’s ensure we use all our knowledge in protecting ourselves as we move to a phygital world. As described above, legal teams will need to work and be ready to strengthen and prepare new legal documents that will protect their clients for this new environment.

My last message to you will be to start experiencing the Metaverse. You have platforms available like Roblox, Fortnite, The Sandbox and many others (like Horizon Worlds from Meta – ex Facebook or Mesh from Microsoft with integration of Teams and HoloLens headsets) and enjoy the ride.

As always I am available for any question you might have. My book called “The Talking Dog, Immersion in new technologies”, explains the technologies involved in the Metaverse and much more.


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