Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Dream of the Metaverse Realistic?

The debate surrounding the Metaverse is never-ending. Read expert opinions.
Learn about how inclusive is the Metaverse, four social themes, its presence in the global industries, and popular technologies powering it.

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Dream of the Metaverse Realistic?

The word that can be put parallel to the word “pandemic” has to be “metaverse”. It is the most omnipresent tech buzzword of 2021 that continues to reign high in 2022. Metaverse is still a vague concept to many and there’s no one agreed-upon definition of the word to date. After the announcement of rebranding “Facebook” to “meta” by Mark Zuckerberg, the concept has definitely started receiving more attention than it used to. 

The announcement has put the word out there and people from all walks of life are interested to know what this “metaverse virtual reality world” is about and what it entails for the future. 

Mack Zuckerberg's metaverse Source: Giphy

This gets us to our question: Is Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of the metaverse unrealistic?

Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement to rebrand “Facebook” to encompass everything that the company does. He made it clear that the center of it all remains “connectivity” and “people”. The concept with meta is to transform connectivity and how people interact across the globe. The obstacle of time and distance will be removed as everything will be virtual in the metaverse. 

It’s synonymous with everything that is physical will be possible virtually. That does sound great, right? A virtual reality world that allows you to create worlds a group of friends, throw surprise parties, a hybrid work environment where you can conduct work with anyone from around the world without having to have them sitting right in front of you and conduct business as well. 

Metaverse digital environment partying
Source: Giphy

This will reduce traffic on the roads which means less pollution and a positive impact on climate change. This and much more had been promised by Mark Zuckerberg while making the announcement, not to mention the emphasis on the privacy and security of the people in the metaverse. 

All of this will be made possible using VR and AR technology, you need to have AR and VR hardware like a meta quest headset, pair of camera-equipped Rayban smart glasses, and hi-tech prototypes like a high-resolution headset and a haptic glove. 

AR/VR

This looks cool but only if you have the hi-tech hardware. Is FOMO kicking in yet? 😄

It is important to consider that VR isn’t a mass-market technology right now which makes it less realistic to be as inclusive as Zuckerberg promised. What about the people living in the developing world? Will they be able to buy these VR and AR hardware and participate in the metaverse as some fraction of the people will? 

This is just one side of it that seems a bit far-fetched considering the technological inequalities that persist across the world. Zuckerberg has talked about making metaverse inclusive from the start by making the avatars more like the person who owns them and all but how inclusive it will be when half of the world won’t have easy access to the gear required? 

The Never-Ending Debate Around the Metaverse

We ran a poll to determine what the general public thinks about the announcement and the results are down below. It is rather important to note that most people still don’t have a clear vision of the metaverse, therefore, the results can’t be taken as the ultimate truth of it. 

Linked-in poll metaverse

The metaverse isn’t an altogether new concept. The virtual world in the gaming industry is going strong with billions of players, some people are of the opinion that Mark has already missed the train to be the one introducing the world to the metaverse. While other people are of the opinion that Facebook is a big player and can really mainstream the metaverse in a never seen before manner. 

Making the debate inclusive of opinions

To make the debate more inclusive in reality, we asked people and they delivered. 

“I think the idea of a metaverse is inevitable. Meaning we already have proto-verses right now that are not immersive, whether it be your massively multiplayer online role-playing game, like World of Warcraft, or even Facebook as a virtual presence. I have extreme reservations about the idea of one single company running the metaverse. It’s kind of akin to a single corporation controlling the internet.

I really think that open web-based standards for immersive experiences, web AR, Web XR, and also an open metaverse is the next step for the internet. The way we can avoid a metaverse monopoly is for the other players in the industry (Google, Apple, Sony, etc.) to either make similar investments into the metaverse or form a consortium with open standards.”

Don Shin, CEO, CrossComm 

“The Metaverse is a whole world with its own economic opportunities driven by the community. Cryptocurrency payments and NFT allow independent creators to monetize their content more effectively without the need to stick to a particular platform/format or to pay fees to the platform.

On the other hand, the Metaverse raises some valid concerns. One of the biggest issues is the safety and privacy of the Metaverse users. What if Zuckerberg’s Meta decides to gather and sell user data from their virtual universe or put you in an information bubble? The metaverse isn’t yet regulated by any law and won’t be secured from exploits at the beginning leading to hacker attacks.”

Pavel Orlov, CEO, Innowise

“As an SEO specialist and digital marketing professional, I’m in awe of the metaverse and of the limitless possibility that it offers. The chance to create and constantly update bespoke alternate and virtual reality campaigns that can, and will appeal to a potentially huge target audience is worth the price of admission, or it would be if anyone was actually charging us to “enter” it. 

As it stands, I firmly believe that the metaverse is the future of, and holds the evolutionary key to, the internet.  It will fundamentally alter the way we use, and think about the web, both personally and professionally. And in less than a decade, it will be a part of everyone’s daily life.” 

John Dibella, CEO, NetLocal

“There is little doubting the potential of the metaverse, and Mark Zuckerberg has been swift in rebranding Facebook into Meta as a means of adapting his business in preparation for the sweeping changes that the new technological innovation will bring.

But is Meta keeping level-headed about the market’s acceptance of its vision? We’ve seen plenty of impressive digital renderings of what it will be like to shop in Walmart using VR glasses within the metaverse, but it’s important to remember that most successful innovations are built on convenience – and if there isn’t an audience willing to invest their time in shopping through virtual superstore isles to pick up 3D renderings of soup tins and milk, then there’s a danger that the all-encompassing changes that the metaverse is capable of delivering will be lost on its user base.” 

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice, Freedom Finance Europe

“My main concern is that if you imagine the metaverse as an extension of reality, without the repercussions, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Consider harassment and bullying and how it has become “cyber.” This is due to the low risk of punishment because it is online, if one gets banned they just make a new account.

Likewise, in the Metaverse, if you harass or assault a person, you can just make a new account. This is even worse than cyberbullying because of how immersive and personal the metaverse is even more so than social media. I think that for the metaverse to have staying power as a practical and positive space it will need to do better than “fast banning.”

James Kaplan, CEO, and Co-Founder, MeetKai Inc.

Elon Musk is known for his tweets and opinions and he doesn’t hold back from sharing his opinions regarding the metaverse. He isn’t really convinced with the VR-driven metaverse  and labeled it as “more marketing than reality,” adding “I don’t get it.”

Many critics and skeptics are of the opinion that Facebook rebranding the company to a metaverse company is more of a marketing ploy. Facebook is using the buzzword to its advantage; the company has seen severe PR crises because of the surfacing problems and social issues such as facilitating the spread of disinformation, deteriorating teens’ mental health, and accusations of fueling political polarization which leads to the insinuation of online hate and harassment. 

How inclusive is the Metaverse?

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the inclusivity concern is shared by many regarding the metaverse. How inclusive metaverse will be towards marginalized people is a concern shared by the marginalized people and people with disabilities.

Marginalized people often suffer the most from the unintended consequences of the new emerging technologies. Facebook has been thrashed in the past for using algorithms that suffer from gender and racial biases. 

People of color believe that they should be key stakeholders in building this next-generation internet. If not, they fear that it will inherit the problematic parts of today’s social media, if not worse.

To suffice this argument, people have observed that the price of the avatars varies based on the perceived race of the avatar which is indicative of a sexual and racial bias in the pre-metaverse environment. 

The World of the Internet is Anything But IDEAL

The world of the internet was supposed to be an escape for people from the cruelties and racial injustices of the physical world but in reality, it ist is anything but race-less. The utopian vision was a space that wouldn’t indulge in people’s gender, race, and class distinctions but the realities of these emerging technologies are often polar opposite to the envisioned ideals. 

Respondents to a survey included in the 2021 report by the Institute of Digital Fashion and the Circular Fashion Summit showed a particular awareness of the underrepresentation of women, disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community: 70% of survey respondents “expressed that gender representation within virtual experiences was vital to them,” and 60% were “concerned about the increased potential for bullying and discrimination against disabled people within virtual worlds.” 

As one anonymous respondent wrote, “People with disabilities are definitely an underrepresented social group in both real and virtual spaces. Virtual spaces can fix this problem by shedding new light on underrepresented voices and sharing insight on their stories.”

Mark Zuckerberg introduced the metaverse as a more immersive, embodied internet that will unlock a lot of amazing new experiences.” This isn’t just limited to a new way of the Internet but inadvertently will impact the way people socialize and live day-to-day life. 

This is not to project and write off metaverse but to highlight the areas that need improvement for it to cater to all people and races. Metaverse has the potential to be a true game-changer if utilized properly. It has given us all an opportunity to rebrand social media making it a safe space for everyone regardless of race, color, and social status. 

Metaverse inclusivity
Source: Giphy

The Metaverse Promise to Take Actions on Four Social Themes

The Facebook meta has promised to work on four themes that are an amalgamation of multiple social and underlying security themes. These four themes encapsulate dominantly the areas that were creating problems for Facebook. 

    • Promoting Safety and Expression
    • Protecting Privacy and Security
    • Preparing for Elections
    • Responding to Covid-19

As mentioned above, Facebook has landed into trouble for the spread of misinformation and facilitation of polarization on the platform that leads to hate speech. To counter this, the major four themes of action included the renowned vow to make Facebook a safe place for everyone to voice their opinions and thoughts without having to fear repercussions. It is yet to see how it will be implemented and will it be any different in reality from the current social media?

The second most infamous issue was Facebook and the spread of misinformation in regards to elections. Facebook is taking up the issue in its attempt to rebrand the outlook of the brand and critics and skeptics have their eyes on the company to critically evaluate the promise made. 

These themes present everyone interested in exploring different realms of opportunities in these fields with a once-in-a-lifetime chance. People can combine the physical and virtual to present the best possible solutions to cater to these issues. The rebranding of social media and how we use it is nothing short of extraordinary as it allows us all to identify the present flaws and come up with solutions. 

But more than anything, Facebook will be facilitating people and it won’t be long before we get to see how much the company has delivered. 

Metaverse trends

The Metaverse: What it Means for Global Industries

Many believe that Metaverse may be going through a  ‘gimmick’ episode. This happens when products actually look good or work well on TV but not so much in real life. Au contraire, many already are fantasizing about this new life-altering revolution and the privileges it has in store for the world.

On that note, the Metaverse is aiming to revolutionize global industries in the best of ways. Because ‘Metaverse is only for gamers’ is a myth and switching to personalized avatars is just a start! In this section, let’s now see what metaverse means for the global industries. 

eCommerce

eCommerce is diving head straight into this new digital frontier to create more frictionless and engaging experiences to retain customer loyalty. Metaverse will enable prospective brands to build integrated and dynamic digital stores to break down the silos between offline and online stores through virtual shopping.

eCommerce metaverse
Source: Giphy

Many big brands are already jumping on the bandwagon, for example, Gucci teamed up with Roblox to release Gucci Garden, a unique and interactive virtual exhibit for an immersive multimedia experience. Louis Vuitton released Louis: The Game, a video game that lets you accompany Vivienne, as she journeys the virtual world and travels to the vibrant locations around the world in search of collectible NFT candles. 

Education

Educating in the Metaverse is becoming all the rage. Therefore, educators have finally started to explore new ways to collectively teach in a shared virtual world.

Optima classical academy in Florida has embraced this technology with open arms. According to Education entrepreneur Erika Donalds – the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Optima Foundation and Optima Domi,

“This is an opportunity to be progressive, and we are thinking of how we can do better with educating children. Many people are not willing to get outside of the box to try to do things differently utilizing the amazing technology available today.”

Metaverse will enable students to virtually drive through the streets of Vatican city or take a trip to Mars through live VR sessions. The typical school day will not be so typical after all.

Gaming

Now, what’s all the hype about gaming in the Metaverse? Well, a tiny bit of Metaverse is already found in games such as Fortnite. Gamers can play using their avatars that are designed around their own unique characteristics or attributes. Moreover, they can team up with or against and socialize with other avatars in the online gaming space. Players can also collect virtual currency to unlock fancy skins and outfits to customize their avatars.

gaming in the metaverse
Source: Giphy

Activision Blizzard is popular for developing games that usually include some elements of the metaverse such as in ‘the world of warcraft’. Just recently, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Because according to Satya Nadella ‘the deal will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms’. In other news, Bunch – a first group video chat app for multiplayer games also pivoted to the social gaming metaverse. 

Recommended: Inclusion in Video Games: The Landscape is Changing

Real Estate

According to CNBC, sales of real estate in the metaverse topped $500 million last year alone and can reach twice as much this year. Moreover, according to a report from Brand Essence, the metaverse real estate market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 31% from 2022 to 2028. Now, who can deny the power of the real estate metaverse?

Investors are paying millions of dollars for virtual plots of land in the metaverse. All this may alter your state of mind. Makes sense! I mean, who would pay real dollar bills to buy a virtual piece of land, something that does not exist in the real-world estate or never will. Well, let’s shift our attention to the NFT craze for a moment. People are investing millions to buy digital collectibles with the hope to earn twice as much in the future.

This very assumption makes the metaverse real estate all the more exciting and alluring, that once you own a plot in a virtual estate, you may be able to make more by re-selling or leasing it. 

Somnium Space, the Sandbox, Detraland, and Upland are some of the real estate metaverses that allow you to buy or lease digital land.  Thinking about how to buy land in the metaverse? See the image below 👇

how to buy a land in metaverse

Fintech

Fintech, too, is embracing the Metaverse. Almost 88% of US consumers now use fintech solutions to get the job done. Therefore, like other industries, the metaverse will offer comprehensive and endless opportunities for the Fintech industry as well. It is anticipated to become a significant virtual platform for financial data management.

Recommended: HOW METAVERSE CAN TRANSFORM FINTECH?

According to the Korea times, several Korean banks have already initiated active virtual ecosystems for their customers. In the digital landscape where everyone is going to carry out trade, play, interact together, negotiate business deals, conduct meetings, or even attend concerts will be in cohesion only because of Fintech for Metaverse.

Having said that, Metaverse will take advantage of the existing Fintech infrastructure for payments, fraud detection, regulations, tokenization and identity management, and verification for transactional support and governance.

Recommended: 5 Things You Did Not Know About the Fintech Industry

Popular Technologies to Power the Metaverse

Metaverse is the next big thing in the internet revolution. It is the convergence of physical, virtual, and augmented reality in a shared online environment – well, you already knew that, didn’t you? But do you know the technologies that are used to power the metaverse? It is of utmost importance to understand the technologies that are plunging the metaverse towards the front.

Along with this, their instrumental impact on businesses, and society at large. Because only after understanding these cutting-edge technologies and their powerful impact – can businesses find richer ways to nurture their processes – with the practical implementation of virtual reality for future action and to keep digital innovation at the center of success. 

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and NFTs

Let’s just stick to the most obvious use cases of blockchain and cryptocurrency. For one, we know it’s the ‘money talk’. Well obviously! 

Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger safeguarded with encryption. This technology has powered the likes of Bitcoin, Ether, and other popular cryptocurrencies. But how is this technology related to the Metaverse? Let’s just say some people just want to play and socialize through immersive environments and some like to shop, buy things, and chill. Cryptocurrency powered by Blockchain will enable people to securely buy real estate and whatnot. One such example is Decentraland. 

 “It is a 3D virtual world browser-based platform where users may buy virtual plots of land in the platform as NFTs via the MANA cryptocurrency, which uses the Ethereum blockchain. It was opened to the public in February 2020 and is overseen by the nonprofit Decentraland Foundation.”

But this is just the beginning of what blockchain can do in the Metaverse. 

Similarly, NFTs have taken the world by storm! Even though it may have become an apple of discord for some, they are building blocks of the metaverse. It’s in the news that NFTs will be used to enter or access the metaverse and blockchain stores these Non-Fungible Tokens.

NFT - the metaverse meme
Source: Google Images

The bottom line is – blockchain technology will give rise to a more transparent, accountable, and fair economy in an ideal Metaverse. End of story!  

Virtual & Augmented Reality

These technologies offer life-like, immersive, and engaging experiences. Real-life use cases include and are not limited to gaming, social networking, on-the-job training, etc. AR enables you to embed or morph virtual objects into the real physical world such as snap chat filters or the ever-so-popular pokemon go.

On the other hand, VR is all about 3D computer modeling which allows users to immerse themselves in a 3D virtual environment. Unity CEO predicts that AR/VR headsets will be as common as Game Consoles by 2030.

Speaking of, AR/VR is the fundamentals of the metaverse as these technological innovations have immense potential to reshape the ways people interact with one another, businesses, products, and services. 

Now you must be wondering how the metaverse is connected to these technologies? In simpler words, metaverse will most likely require VR headsets and AR-powered smart glasses. Moreover, VR will transform the telepresence into a more dynamic 3D environment that is unlike any other video conferencing experience. Even though AR/VR is an intrinsic component of the entire ecosystem. But Metaverse is so much more than that, it is the next generation of the internet – not limited by AR/VR alone.

Recommended: 11 TOP WEB DEVELOPMENT TRENDS TO LOOK FOR IN 2022

Artificial Intelligence

Now onto the next important question – as the Metaverse emerges, what role does AI have to play? Will it cater to the very essence of inclusivity or lead to a preferential or biased digital world instead? A good one, right? 

Jon Radoff – an American entrepreneur, author, and game designer has put together the 7 layers of Metaverse based on which let’s see the role that AI will play in the future of the Metaverse. 

AIOps or Artificial intelligence in IT operations will play its part in managing all the imperative infrastructure such as hardware, software to enable platform scalability for successfully powering the metaverse. According to IBM,

“​​AIOps uses artificial intelligence to simplify IT operations management and accelerate and automate problem resolution in complex modern IT environments.”

Thus, the presence of AIOps will warrant the stability of the Metaverse infrastructure.

Another important use case of AI in Metaverse is supporting inclusivity and accessibility. Metaverse will surely revolutionize the online connection for some, but at the same time, it can also become an impediment for people with special needs and make it fiddly for them to effortlessly access this digital world, as a result, leaving them out of this new social experience.

This is where AI for accessibility comes in. it will play a significant part in making sure that metaverse is equally accessible to everyone in the pyramid irrespective of their impairments or disabilities. AI should assist with image recognition, translation, and accessible interfaces for the most vulnerable. 

Additionally, AI will lead to enhanced smart contracts to cease antidemocratic blockchain transactions, and intelligent networking through digital personalization. 

3D Environment Modeling 

3D reconstruction or environment modeling is exceedingly on the rise and definitely not a new concept. 3D visualization has been around since the periods of the high and low renaissance. Sounds familiar? Yes, I am referring to the good ol’ Da Vinci days. 3D model drawings of flying machines, convex lens grinding machines, and hydraulic machines are some of his greatest works. 

Fast-forwarding to hundreds of years, 3D visualization became a prominent part of architecture at the start of the 20th century. Then, the ’70s marked the arrival of the first 3D modeling software and now we have 3D printers and VR as a tool for 3D visualization in the Zukerbergs’ Metaverse. 

3D reconstruction - the metaverse
Source: Freepik

The role of 3D is to build a digital environment similar and close to our real-life physical world and the 3D reconstruction technology will help Metaverse achieve exactly that. It can not only create a realistic and natural-looking virtual environment, spaces, or replicas of the real world. But you get to have 3D avatars which you can model around your own personality, and physical attributes – sounds super exciting right? Just recently, Microsoft Teams entered the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings. 

There are quite a handful of 3D modeling tools available that companies can use to develop a metaverse. These tools allow prospects to both construct their tools from scratch and reconstruct them in 3D with sensors. Interested? Tools such as Tvori and Gravity Sketch will help teach you the basics of 3D designing, modeling, and prototyping. Hallelujah!

5G Technology

Time and again, we have mentioned how Metaverse is all about creating remarkable virtual experiences therefore 5G technology is going to drive those meaningful escapades. Because networking through VR can demand vast amounts of data but 5G has the power and potential to fuel real-time data transfers. It will enable people to connect and enjoy AR/VR experiences from anywhere in the world without any disruption otherwise leading to unpleasantries. 

The Final Verdict!

This surely is a monumental step towards a digital life that will provide people with inundate number of opportunities to explore their passion and unlock future realities with the help of technology.

Having said that, whereas the metaverse is a gateway to future possibilities and realities, it also presents the key stakeholders with a challenge to make it inclusive and a platform of equal opportunities for all regardless of racial and sexual differences. If this doesn’t shape up to be what is being promised then it can make things worse than it already is. We will have to wait and see how it unfolds.

The word that can be put parallel to the word “pandemic” has to be “metaverse”. It is the most omnipresent tech buzzword of 2021 that continues to reign high in 2022. Metaverse is still a vague concept to many and there’s no one agreed-upon definition of the word to date. After the announcement of rebranding “Facebook” to “meta” by Mark Zuckerberg, the concept has definitely started receiving more attention than it used to. 

The announcement has put the word out there and people from all walks of life are interested to know what this “metaverse virtual reality world” is about and what it entails for the future. 

Mack Zuckerberg's metaverse Source: Giphy

This gets us to our question: Is Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of the metaverse unrealistic?

Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement to rebrand “Facebook” to encompass everything that the company does. He made it clear that the center of it all remains “connectivity” and “people”. The concept with meta is to transform connectivity and how people interact across the globe. The obstacle of time and distance will be removed as everything will be virtual in the metaverse. 

It’s synonymous with everything that is physical will be possible virtually. That does sound great, right? A virtual reality world that allows you to create worlds a group of friends, throw surprise parties, a hybrid work environment where you can conduct work with anyone from around the world without having to have them sitting right in front of you and conduct business as well. 

Metaverse digital environment partying
Source: Giphy

This will reduce traffic on the roads which means less pollution and a positive impact on climate change. This and much more had been promised by Mark Zuckerberg while making the announcement, not to mention the emphasis on the privacy and security of the people in the metaverse. 

All of this will be made possible using VR and AR technology, you need to have AR and VR hardware like a meta quest headset, pair of camera-equipped Rayban smart glasses, and hi-tech prototypes like a high-resolution headset and a haptic glove. 

AR/VR

This looks cool but only if you have the hi-tech hardware. Is FOMO kicking in yet? 😄

It is important to consider that VR isn’t a mass-market technology right now which makes it less realistic to be as inclusive as Zuckerberg promised. What about the people living in the developing world? Will they be able to buy these VR and AR hardware and participate in the metaverse as some fraction of the people will? 

This is just one side of it that seems a bit far-fetched considering the technological inequalities that persist across the world. Zuckerberg has talked about making metaverse inclusive from the start by making the avatars more like the person who owns them and all but how inclusive it will be when half of the world won’t have easy access to the gear required? 

The Never-Ending Debate Around the Metaverse

We ran a poll to determine what the general public thinks about the announcement and the results are down below. It is rather important to note that most people still don’t have a clear vision of the metaverse, therefore, the results can’t be taken as the ultimate truth of it. 

Linked-in poll metaverse

The metaverse isn’t an altogether new concept. The virtual world in the gaming industry is going strong with billions of players, some people are of the opinion that Mark has already missed the train to be the one introducing the world to the metaverse. While other people are of the opinion that Facebook is a big player and can really mainstream the metaverse in a never seen before manner. 

Making the debate inclusive of opinions

To make the debate more inclusive in reality, we asked people and they delivered. 

“I think the idea of a metaverse is inevitable. Meaning we already have proto-verses right now that are not immersive, whether it be your massively multiplayer online role-playing game, like World of Warcraft, or even Facebook as a virtual presence. I have extreme reservations about the idea of one single company running the metaverse. It’s kind of akin to a single corporation controlling the internet.

I really think that open web-based standards for immersive experiences, web AR, Web XR, and also an open metaverse is the next step for the internet. The way we can avoid a metaverse monopoly is for the other players in the industry (Google, Apple, Sony, etc.) to either make similar investments into the metaverse or form a consortium with open standards.”

Don Shin, CEO, CrossComm 

“The Metaverse is a whole world with its own economic opportunities driven by the community. Cryptocurrency payments and NFT allow independent creators to monetize their content more effectively without the need to stick to a particular platform/format or to pay fees to the platform.

On the other hand, the Metaverse raises some valid concerns. One of the biggest issues is the safety and privacy of the Metaverse users. What if Zuckerberg’s Meta decides to gather and sell user data from their virtual universe or put you in an information bubble? The metaverse isn’t yet regulated by any law and won’t be secured from exploits at the beginning leading to hacker attacks.”

Pavel Orlov, CEO, Innowise

“As an SEO specialist and digital marketing professional, I’m in awe of the metaverse and of the limitless possibility that it offers. The chance to create and constantly update bespoke alternate and virtual reality campaigns that can, and will appeal to a potentially huge target audience is worth the price of admission, or it would be if anyone was actually charging us to “enter” it. 

As it stands, I firmly believe that the metaverse is the future of, and holds the evolutionary key to, the internet.  It will fundamentally alter the way we use, and think about the web, both personally and professionally. And in less than a decade, it will be a part of everyone’s daily life.” 

John Dibella, CEO, NetLocal

“There is little doubting the potential of the metaverse, and Mark Zuckerberg has been swift in rebranding Facebook into Meta as a means of adapting his business in preparation for the sweeping changes that the new technological innovation will bring.

But is Meta keeping level-headed about the market’s acceptance of its vision? We’ve seen plenty of impressive digital renderings of what it will be like to shop in Walmart using VR glasses within the metaverse, but it’s important to remember that most successful innovations are built on convenience – and if there isn’t an audience willing to invest their time in shopping through virtual superstore isles to pick up 3D renderings of soup tins and milk, then there’s a danger that the all-encompassing changes that the metaverse is capable of delivering will be lost on its user base.” 

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice, Freedom Finance Europe

“My main concern is that if you imagine the metaverse as an extension of reality, without the repercussions, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Consider harassment and bullying and how it has become “cyber.” This is due to the low risk of punishment because it is online, if one gets banned they just make a new account.

Likewise, in the Metaverse, if you harass or assault a person, you can just make a new account. This is even worse than cyberbullying because of how immersive and personal the metaverse is even more so than social media. I think that for the metaverse to have staying power as a practical and positive space it will need to do better than “fast banning.”

James Kaplan, CEO, and Co-Founder, MeetKai Inc.

Elon Musk is known for his tweets and opinions and he doesn’t hold back from sharing his opinions regarding the metaverse. He isn’t really convinced with the VR-driven metaverse  and labeled it as “more marketing than reality,” adding “I don’t get it.”

Many critics and skeptics are of the opinion that Facebook rebranding the company to a metaverse company is more of a marketing ploy. Facebook is using the buzzword to its advantage; the company has seen severe PR crises because of the surfacing problems and social issues such as facilitating the spread of disinformation, deteriorating teens’ mental health, and accusations of fueling political polarization which leads to the insinuation of online hate and harassment. 

How inclusive is the Metaverse?

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the inclusivity concern is shared by many regarding the metaverse. How inclusive metaverse will be towards marginalized people is a concern shared by the marginalized people and people with disabilities.

Marginalized people often suffer the most from the unintended consequences of the new emerging technologies. Facebook has been thrashed in the past for using algorithms that suffer from gender and racial biases. 

People of color believe that they should be key stakeholders in building this next-generation internet. If not, they fear that it will inherit the problematic parts of today’s social media, if not worse.

To suffice this argument, people have observed that the price of the avatars varies based on the perceived race of the avatar which is indicative of a sexual and racial bias in the pre-metaverse environment. 

The World of the Internet is Anything But IDEAL

The world of the internet was supposed to be an escape for people from the cruelties and racial injustices of the physical world but in reality, it ist is anything but race-less. The utopian vision was a space that wouldn’t indulge in people’s gender, race, and class distinctions but the realities of these emerging technologies are often polar opposite to the envisioned ideals. 

Respondents to a survey included in the 2021 report by the Institute of Digital Fashion and the Circular Fashion Summit showed a particular awareness of the underrepresentation of women, disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community: 70% of survey respondents “expressed that gender representation within virtual experiences was vital to them,” and 60% were “concerned about the increased potential for bullying and discrimination against disabled people within virtual worlds.” 

As one anonymous respondent wrote, “People with disabilities are definitely an underrepresented social group in both real and virtual spaces. Virtual spaces can fix this problem by shedding new light on underrepresented voices and sharing insight on their stories.”

Mark Zuckerberg introduced the metaverse as a more immersive, embodied internet that will unlock a lot of amazing new experiences.” This isn’t just limited to a new way of the Internet but inadvertently will impact the way people socialize and live day-to-day life. 

This is not to project and write off metaverse but to highlight the areas that need improvement for it to cater to all people and races. Metaverse has the potential to be a true game-changer if utilized properly. It has given us all an opportunity to rebrand social media making it a safe space for everyone regardless of race, color, and social status. 

Metaverse inclusivity
Source: Giphy

The Metaverse Promise to Take Actions on Four Social Themes

The Facebook meta has promised to work on four themes that are an amalgamation of multiple social and underlying security themes. These four themes encapsulate dominantly the areas that were creating problems for Facebook. 

    • Promoting Safety and Expression
    • Protecting Privacy and Security
    • Preparing for Elections
    • Responding to Covid-19

As mentioned above, Facebook has landed into trouble for the spread of misinformation and facilitation of polarization on the platform that leads to hate speech. To counter this, the major four themes of action included the renowned vow to make Facebook a safe place for everyone to voice their opinions and thoughts without having to fear repercussions. It is yet to see how it will be implemented and will it be any different in reality from the current social media?

The second most infamous issue was Facebook and the spread of misinformation in regards to elections. Facebook is taking up the issue in its attempt to rebrand the outlook of the brand and critics and skeptics have their eyes on the company to critically evaluate the promise made. 

These themes present everyone interested in exploring different realms of opportunities in these fields with a once-in-a-lifetime chance. People can combine the physical and virtual to present the best possible solutions to cater to these issues. The rebranding of social media and how we use it is nothing short of extraordinary as it allows us all to identify the present flaws and come up with solutions. 

But more than anything, Facebook will be facilitating people and it won’t be long before we get to see how much the company has delivered. 

Metaverse trends

The Metaverse: What it Means for Global Industries

Many believe that Metaverse may be going through a  ‘gimmick’ episode. This happens when products actually look good or work well on TV but not so much in real life. Au contraire, many already are fantasizing about this new life-altering revolution and the privileges it has in store for the world.

On that note, the Metaverse is aiming to revolutionize global industries in the best of ways. Because ‘Metaverse is only for gamers’ is a myth and switching to personalized avatars is just a start! In this section, let’s now see what metaverse means for the global industries. 

eCommerce

eCommerce is diving head straight into this new digital frontier to create more frictionless and engaging experiences to retain customer loyalty. Metaverse will enable prospective brands to build integrated and dynamic digital stores to break down the silos between offline and online stores through virtual shopping.

eCommerce metaverse
Source: Giphy

Many big brands are already jumping on the bandwagon, for example, Gucci teamed up with Roblox to release Gucci Garden, a unique and interactive virtual exhibit for an immersive multimedia experience. Louis Vuitton released Louis: The Game, a video game that lets you accompany Vivienne, as she journeys the virtual world and travels to the vibrant locations around the world in search of collectible NFT candles. 

Education

Educating in the Metaverse is becoming all the rage. Therefore, educators have finally started to explore new ways to collectively teach in a shared virtual world.

Optima classical academy in Florida has embraced this technology with open arms. According to Education entrepreneur Erika Donalds – the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Optima Foundation and Optima Domi,

“This is an opportunity to be progressive, and we are thinking of how we can do better with educating children. Many people are not willing to get outside of the box to try to do things differently utilizing the amazing technology available today.”

Metaverse will enable students to virtually drive through the streets of Vatican city or take a trip to Mars through live VR sessions. The typical school day will not be so typical after all.

Gaming

Now, what’s all the hype about gaming in the Metaverse? Well, a tiny bit of Metaverse is already found in games such as Fortnite. Gamers can play using their avatars that are designed around their own unique characteristics or attributes. Moreover, they can team up with or against and socialize with other avatars in the online gaming space. Players can also collect virtual currency to unlock fancy skins and outfits to customize their avatars.

gaming in the metaverse
Source: Giphy

Activision Blizzard is popular for developing games that usually include some elements of the metaverse such as in ‘the world of warcraft’. Just recently, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Because according to Satya Nadella ‘the deal will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms’. In other news, Bunch – a first group video chat app for multiplayer games also pivoted to the social gaming metaverse. 

Recommended: Inclusion in Video Games: The Landscape is Changing

Real Estate

According to CNBC, sales of real estate in the metaverse topped $500 million last year alone and can reach twice as much this year. Moreover, according to a report from Brand Essence, the metaverse real estate market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 31% from 2022 to 2028. Now, who can deny the power of the real estate metaverse?

Investors are paying millions of dollars for virtual plots of land in the metaverse. All this may alter your state of mind. Makes sense! I mean, who would pay real dollar bills to buy a virtual piece of land, something that does not exist in the real-world estate or never will. Well, let’s shift our attention to the NFT craze for a moment. People are investing millions to buy digital collectibles with the hope to earn twice as much in the future.

This very assumption makes the metaverse real estate all the more exciting and alluring, that once you own a plot in a virtual estate, you may be able to make more by re-selling or leasing it. 

Somnium Space, the Sandbox, Detraland, and Upland are some of the real estate metaverses that allow you to buy or lease digital land.  Thinking about how to buy land in the metaverse? See the image below 👇

how to buy a land in metaverse

Fintech

Fintech, too, is embracing the Metaverse. Almost 88% of US consumers now use fintech solutions to get the job done. Therefore, like other industries, the metaverse will offer comprehensive and endless opportunities for the Fintech industry as well. It is anticipated to become a significant virtual platform for financial data management.

Recommended: HOW METAVERSE CAN TRANSFORM FINTECH?

According to the Korea times, several Korean banks have already initiated active virtual ecosystems for their customers. In the digital landscape where everyone is going to carry out trade, play, interact together, negotiate business deals, conduct meetings, or even attend concerts will be in cohesion only because of Fintech for Metaverse.

Having said that, Metaverse will take advantage of the existing Fintech infrastructure for payments, fraud detection, regulations, tokenization and identity management, and verification for transactional support and governance.

Recommended: 5 Things You Did Not Know About the Fintech Industry

Popular Technologies to Power the Metaverse

Metaverse is the next big thing in the internet revolution. It is the convergence of physical, virtual, and augmented reality in a shared online environment – well, you already knew that, didn’t you? But do you know the technologies that are used to power the metaverse? It is of utmost importance to understand the technologies that are plunging the metaverse towards the front.

Along with this, their instrumental impact on businesses, and society at large. Because only after understanding these cutting-edge technologies and their powerful impact – can businesses find richer ways to nurture their processes – with the practical implementation of virtual reality for future action and to keep digital innovation at the center of success. 

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and NFTs

Let’s just stick to the most obvious use cases of blockchain and cryptocurrency. For one, we know it’s the ‘money talk’. Well obviously! 

Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger safeguarded with encryption. This technology has powered the likes of Bitcoin, Ether, and other popular cryptocurrencies. But how is this technology related to the Metaverse? Let’s just say some people just want to play and socialize through immersive environments and some like to shop, buy things, and chill. Cryptocurrency powered by Blockchain will enable people to securely buy real estate and whatnot. One such example is Decentraland. 

 “It is a 3D virtual world browser-based platform where users may buy virtual plots of land in the platform as NFTs via the MANA cryptocurrency, which uses the Ethereum blockchain. It was opened to the public in February 2020 and is overseen by the nonprofit Decentraland Foundation.”

But this is just the beginning of what blockchain can do in the Metaverse. 

Similarly, NFTs have taken the world by storm! Even though it may have become an apple of discord for some, they are building blocks of the metaverse. It’s in the news that NFTs will be used to enter or access the metaverse and blockchain stores these Non-Fungible Tokens.

NFT - the metaverse meme
Source: Google Images

The bottom line is – blockchain technology will give rise to a more transparent, accountable, and fair economy in an ideal Metaverse. End of story!  

Virtual & Augmented Reality

These technologies offer life-like, immersive, and engaging experiences. Real-life use cases include and are not limited to gaming, social networking, on-the-job training, etc. AR enables you to embed or morph virtual objects into the real physical world such as snap chat filters or the ever-so-popular pokemon go.

On the other hand, VR is all about 3D computer modeling which allows users to immerse themselves in a 3D virtual environment. Unity CEO predicts that AR/VR headsets will be as common as Game Consoles by 2030.

Speaking of, AR/VR is the fundamentals of the metaverse as these technological innovations have immense potential to reshape the ways people interact with one another, businesses, products, and services. 

Now you must be wondering how the metaverse is connected to these technologies? In simpler words, metaverse will most likely require VR headsets and AR-powered smart glasses. Moreover, VR will transform the telepresence into a more dynamic 3D environment that is unlike any other video conferencing experience. Even though AR/VR is an intrinsic component of the entire ecosystem. But Metaverse is so much more than that, it is the next generation of the internet – not limited by AR/VR alone.

Recommended: 11 TOP WEB DEVELOPMENT TRENDS TO LOOK FOR IN 2022

Artificial Intelligence

Now onto the next important question – as the Metaverse emerges, what role does AI have to play? Will it cater to the very essence of inclusivity or lead to a preferential or biased digital world instead? A good one, right? 

Jon Radoff – an American entrepreneur, author, and game designer has put together the 7 layers of Metaverse based on which let’s see the role that AI will play in the future of the Metaverse. 

AIOps or Artificial intelligence in IT operations will play its part in managing all the imperative infrastructure such as hardware, software to enable platform scalability for successfully powering the metaverse. According to IBM,

“​​AIOps uses artificial intelligence to simplify IT operations management and accelerate and automate problem resolution in complex modern IT environments.”

Thus, the presence of AIOps will warrant the stability of the Metaverse infrastructure.

Another important use case of AI in Metaverse is supporting inclusivity and accessibility. Metaverse will surely revolutionize the online connection for some, but at the same time, it can also become an impediment for people with special needs and make it fiddly for them to effortlessly access this digital world, as a result, leaving them out of this new social experience.

This is where AI for accessibility comes in. it will play a significant part in making sure that metaverse is equally accessible to everyone in the pyramid irrespective of their impairments or disabilities. AI should assist with image recognition, translation, and accessible interfaces for the most vulnerable. 

Additionally, AI will lead to enhanced smart contracts to cease antidemocratic blockchain transactions, and intelligent networking through digital personalization. 

3D Environment Modeling 

3D reconstruction or environment modeling is exceedingly on the rise and definitely not a new concept. 3D visualization has been around since the periods of the high and low renaissance. Sounds familiar? Yes, I am referring to the good ol’ Da Vinci days. 3D model drawings of flying machines, convex lens grinding machines, and hydraulic machines are some of his greatest works. 

Fast-forwarding to hundreds of years, 3D visualization became a prominent part of architecture at the start of the 20th century. Then, the ’70s marked the arrival of the first 3D modeling software and now we have 3D printers and VR as a tool for 3D visualization in the Zukerbergs’ Metaverse. 

3D reconstruction - the metaverse
Source: Freepik

The role of 3D is to build a digital environment similar and close to our real-life physical world and the 3D reconstruction technology will help Metaverse achieve exactly that. It can not only create a realistic and natural-looking virtual environment, spaces, or replicas of the real world. But you get to have 3D avatars which you can model around your own personality, and physical attributes – sounds super exciting right? Just recently, Microsoft Teams entered the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings. 

There are quite a handful of 3D modeling tools available that companies can use to develop a metaverse. These tools allow prospects to both construct their tools from scratch and reconstruct them in 3D with sensors. Interested? Tools such as Tvori and Gravity Sketch will help teach you the basics of 3D designing, modeling, and prototyping. Hallelujah!

5G Technology

Time and again, we have mentioned how Metaverse is all about creating remarkable virtual experiences therefore 5G technology is going to drive those meaningful escapades. Because networking through VR can demand vast amounts of data but 5G has the power and potential to fuel real-time data transfers. It will enable people to connect and enjoy AR/VR experiences from anywhere in the world without any disruption otherwise leading to unpleasantries. 

The Final Verdict!

This surely is a monumental step towards a digital life that will provide people with inundate number of opportunities to explore their passion and unlock future realities with the help of technology.

Having said that, whereas the metaverse is a gateway to future possibilities and realities, it also presents the key stakeholders with a challenge to make it inclusive and a platform of equal opportunities for all regardless of racial and sexual differences. If this doesn’t shape up to be what is being promised then it can make things worse than it already is. We will have to wait and see how it unfolds.

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author.node.name

Hareem Mohsin is a COO at InvoZone but has a knack for writing. She enjoys writing about the latest technologies and evolving trends. Most of her writings revolve around trending technologies and their integration into operations.

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