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Facebook and Microsoft confirm that the metaverse has been an extremely hot topic lately. But what exactly is a metaverse? And when will we be able to be part of the metavers?
The invention of the term “metavers” is attributed to Neal Stephenson, the term first appearing in his 1992 science fiction novel – “Snow Crash” – in which the author imagined realistic avatars found in 3D buildings and other environments. virtual reality.
The idea has since evolved very quickly on the road to a real metavers, an online virtual world that incorporates augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars and other means of communication. As the metaverse expands, it will provide a hyper-real alternative world in which people can coexist just as in the real world.
Indications of the metaverse already existed in the online gaming universes, such as Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox, the companies behind these games having the ambition to be part of the evolution of the metaverse.
Metaverse is a combination of several elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, and video, in which users “live” in a digital universe.
Proponents of metaverses imagine that users will get to work, play, and stay connected with friends through any activity in the virtual world, from concerts and conferences to virtual travel around the world.
In a February 2021 essay, Matthew Ball, managing partner of venture capital firm Epyllion Industries, said that “right now we are on the threshold of the next internet.”
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook), estimates that it could take 5 to 10 years for key metaverse features to become mainstream. However, aspects of the metaverse still exist today. For example, ultra-fast broadband speeds and virtual reality (VR) headphones are already available, though they may not be accessible to everyone.
Here’s a look at some recent events that could form the basis of tomorrow’s metaverse:
♦ Meta. The tech giant formerly known as Facebook has already made significant investments in virtual reality, including the acquisition of Oculus in 2014. Meta imagines a virtual world where digital avatars connect through work, travel, or entertainment using VR headsets. Zuckerberg is optimistic about metavers, believing that it could replace the internet as we know it today.
♦ Microsoft. The software giant is already using holograms and developing mixed and extended reality (XR) applications with its Microsoft Mesh platform, which combines the real world with augmented reality and virtual reality. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced plans to bring mixed reality, including holograms and virtual avatars, to Microsoft Teams in 2022. 3D connected virtual spaces are also underway for next year. The US military is currently working with Microsoft on a set of augmented reality hololens 2 headphones for soldiers to train, repeat and fight virtually with the same results as in the real world. In addition, Xbox Live already connects millions of video game players around the globe.
♦ Epic Games. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Fortnite, said: “It’s no secret that Epic is involved in building the metaverse.” The company is behind concerts by people like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, movie trailers and musical debuts, and is also appreciated for re-imagining in a “captivating” way the historical speech “I Have A Dream” of of Martin Luther King Jr. since 1963.
♦ Roblox. Founded in 2004, the Roblox platform hosts dozens of user-generated games, including role-playing games such as Bloxburg and Brookhaven, where users can build homes, work and play various scenarios. Roblox is currently valued at over $ 45 billion. On the day of its IPO in March, Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki sent a message of thanks on Twitter to all those who brought the platform “one step closer to fulfilling our vision of #Metaverse.” Since then, Roblox has teamed up with the Vans skateboarding shoe company to create Vans World, a virtual skateboarding park where players can dress up with Vans equipment. He also founded Gucci Garden, a place where you can buy virtual clothing and accessories.
♦ Minecraft. Another virtual universe loved by children, Minecraft, owned by Microsoft, is essentially the digital equivalent of Legos, where players can create their own digital character and build whatever they want. As of November 2021, Minecraft had over 150 million monthly active users. During the pandemic, however, its popularity exploded among children who had to rely more on virtual connections.
Also, some lesser known companies have launched their own online worlds. For example, the fantastic online world of Second Life, founded in 2003, is in its second decade as an alternative reality.
Paradise Nowhere has persistent and temporary virtual spaces – for public or private use – ideal for hosting concerts, festivals, meetings and virtual conferences. Also, The Windmill Factory, a New York-based production company that began developing its platform more than a year ago, has released unique projects for Lady Gaga and Nine Inch Nails.
Last but not least, earlier this year, Sensorium Galaxy launched the first two planned galaxies from various connected online “worlds” to explore with VR headsets or desktops.
Information privacy is another major concern in metavers, as the companies involved will collect users’ personal information through mobile devices and user interactions. To give just one example, Facebook (Meta) intends to continue targeted advertising in metavers, this approach creating a number of concerns related to the spread of misinformation and loss of personal privacy.
User dependence and problematic use of social networks is another concern of those who are not fans of metavers. Problems caused by internet addiction, social networking, and video games can have long-term mental and physical repercussions, such as depression, anxiety, and obesity. Experts are also concerned that the metaverse could be used as an “escape” from reality in a similar way to that already created by existing technologies on the Internet.
Moreover, the metaverse can increase the social impact of digital alienation spaces. Because the evolution of the metaverse can go in the direction of algorithmic adaptation of the virtual world based on the beliefs of each person, the metaverse can further distort users’ perceptions of reality.
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