Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Introductory | Intermediate | Advanced
Recently, the metaverse and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been garnering an increasing amount of attention on a global scale. Technology giants like Microsoft and Facebook have already shifted their focus towards the metaverse trend.
What is a Metaverse?
In short, “metaverse” is used as a blanket term for:
Virtually created universes in which people can interact with each other and with that universe.
Currently, attempts to create metaverse environments are still in their infancy. Nonetheless, the trend towards metaverses or one shared metaverse is gaining an exponential amount of traction among global tech giants and should not be underestimated.
The Evolution of Technology
Telecommunication technologies thrust our world into the age of digital connectivity by giving people the ability to transfer information rapidly between vast distances all around the globe. Telecommunication evolved from exchanges of raw data and texts to images and sound, and then on to video and livestreaming. This evolution sparked a transformation of digital entertainment into always more sophisticated and immersive systems. Utilizing artificial intelligence as well as virtual technologies has become the obvious next step.
What is the Goal of a Metaverse?
The goal of a metaverse is to create a sophisticated and immersive second “reality” for its users. What this “reality” will be or will eventually look like is currently difficult to accurately define. However, plenty of ongoing metaverse projects are focusing on utilizing Virtual Reality technologies to create a virtual space for the user, which resembles the physical space we inhabit. Despite the resemblance, rules and characteristics of a metaverse are ultimately up to its developers and result in possibilities that are purely restricted by the limits of creativity.
Aspects of a Metaverse Already Exist Today
Today, some metaverses have already started to form. Taking a closer look can help us understand the vision of a metaverse.
Popular videogame and Esports title Fortnite, utilized the Covid-19-related lockdowns to transition from being a mere videogame platform into a virtual space with many interesting events in which people can gather and interact with each other to connect and enjoy themselves.
One of the most popular events hosted by Fortnite was pop singer Ariana Grande’s concert series called Rift Tour that included a fully virtual show that people could attend and interact with.
What Should Sponsors and Investors Look Out For?
With aspects of metaverses already in existence, the goal to build a high-functioning and advanced environment is being pursued intently by many key players globally. This era of progression has been met with great enthusiasm, and many different players are keen to get involved early as this market gains traction. However, due to the market’s novelty, boundless opportunities can be met with an even greater number of pitfalls if one isn’t properly guided through the process.
A rule of thumb is to remember why some exciting technology ventures do not yield long-term success – the main reason: the use of said technology. Application of a technology in real-world scenarios, and utilization are extremely crucial in determining the longevity of a venture’s success.
The Real-World Usefulness of Metaverses (1)
In the case of metaverses, ensuring longevity means creating a system that is not only entertaining and interesting, but also useful. Arguably, the main usefulness of metaverses is not found in their entertainment value, but rather in their ability to connect. One such useful connection is the ability to become an intersection between our physical space and the space created in the metaverse. Futuristic visions of metaverses include the involvement of more senses than just sight and sound, but modern technology still falls short in making these visions an immediate reality.
The most novel concept that emerged in the metaverse conversation, however, are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs are essentially data that cannot be interchanged with any other piece of data, making that specific piece of data unique and distinguishable from all other counterparts (much like a fingerprint). Currently, the term NFT is most often used for digital items that can be bought and owned by a person, but the possibility for real-world applications goes way beyond the concept of a digitally owned item. Blockchain technology can already be used to create NFTs that tie virtual items to real life ones, creating the intersection between the metaverse and physical space.
The Real-World Usefulness of Metaverses (2)
Other uses for metaverses can be found in connecting users, functions, and metaverses with each other:
The connection of users in the metaverse is in essence a new form of telecommunication. However, to make a convincing case for this, metaverses must overcome the ease of use of their telecommunication competitors by tapping into their own unique capabilities. This means utilizing the capability of interaction in the metaverse (and retransfer of this interaction) in ways that other telecommunication technologies cannot. Virtual workspaces in which people can interact despite their physical distance is but one of the possibilities that arise from utilizing the metaverse as a telecommunications space, as it can solve many concerns for employers regarding remote working situations. By involving the metaverse, connecting the functions and work processes of the virtual space with that of the physical space becomes a real possibility.
Functions are generally relatively easy to create or implement. For example, several metaverses already offer the ability to watch streams, go shopping (for our physical space), trade cryptocurrencies, socialize, and exchange information. The key to successfully utilize a metaverse in this manner is to implement a system in which functions are complementary, well-designed, and secure.
Finally, the connection of metaverses is most likely the holy grail for metaverse technologies. Metaverses can suffer immensely from competition due to the commitment that users may have to make to a single metaverse. Individuals and even brands may have to bring time and non-transferable resources into one metaverse or another. As there is no industry standard for metaverses, there are several scenarios that can occur, as metaverses get developed:
A stalemate between big competitors;
A Winner-Takes-All scenario (as has historically been the case with other online-based platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon); and/or,
The creation of a metaverse that can integrate with other metaverses to serve as an overarching metaverse platform.
Ultimately, it is difficult to predict which one of these scenarios will occur. However, it is apparent that getting involved with a metaverse that has the best markers for successful real-world applications and connectivity, would vastly enhance your chance of success in this arena.