2022, AI, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Crypto, Extended Reality, Machine Learning, Metaverse, NFTs, Tech, Virtual Real Estate, Virtual Reality, VR, XR

An in-depth look into the Metaverse

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This past year, major companies have begun investing millions of dollars into the metaverse. Adidas, for instance, purchased 144 plots of land in the Sandbox metaverse for 400 ETH (roughly $1.2 million).

Facebook also shifted its focus to developing the next generation of social technologies in the metaverse, rebranding itself to “Meta”. Some companies have even predicted that the global metaverse market revenue will reach nearly $800 billion by 2026.

Not a bad time to involved, right? Keep reading and we’ll tell you how you can join, invest in, and make money from the metaverse, all the while having some fun along the way.

We’ll also discuss how the metaverse works, the different components and technology drivers powering it, as well as its high-profile applications sparking serious interest.

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How does the Metaverse work?

The metaverse has no single use or purpose. Instead, it resembles the internet as it offers a platform for many diverse virtual interactions and applications. The metaverse converges physical reality with the digital world to offer us a collective virtual space to interact with others, conduct business, take classes, and more.

During these past two years, we have watched the workforce transform from a traditional, in-person environment into a remote, virtually-interfaced one. In consequence, the use of video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx have become the de facto standard for communicating with coworkers, clients, and suppliers.  

The metaverse proposes the evolution of this transition into a virtually-interfaced environment. Soon, metaverse developers hope people will conduct more day-to-day activities in a virtual format, or at least enhance their real-world lives by integrating them with the virtual world.

As the metaverse receives much more attention from businesses and consumers, understanding the technology supporting the metaverse and the implications of its development can help us learn about the opportunities to get involved in what many tech giants believe will grow at a similar rate to the internet.

Metaverse Components

To serve the multitude of functions the metaverse aims to provide, the following features must work together to create a practical union of the virtual and physical worlds. 

Immersive Space

Serving as the foundation of the metaverse, immersive spaces provide the medium by which people interact with others, purchase assets, conduct business, etc.

Platforms including Sandbox, Decentraland, and Axie Infinity, already provide these virtual spaces, allowing users to buy and customize virtual plots of land, sold as NFTs, for their digital avatars.

Virtual land

Already, developers are also integrating virtual reality and augmented reality technology into the metaverse to facilitate more realistic-feeling interactions within these virtual spaces.

Metaverse Economy

The metaverse contains a fully-operational economy based on the blockchain and NFTs. Using cryptocurrency, metaverse users can buy and sell land, digital assets, art, services, and more. Some businesses even predict considerable integrations of the workforce into the metaverse.

As many jobs now require their employees to work remotely and communicate with video conferencing, future positions may allow people to work and collaborate entirely in the metaverse.

Persistence

Integrated with the blockchain and designed to serve concurrent users, the metaverse is a persistent reality. Everything one does in the metaverse belongs to its history and contributes to its future. If a user logs off or even deletes their account, their user’s assets and activity will still exist as records in the blockchain and as artifacts left in the virtual space. 

Interoperability

The metaverse is not a proprietary service. No one company owns or hosts the entire metaverse. Instead, several companies offer digital spaces, and users own their land and assets. To allow for the integration of a variety of digital items and services among different spaces, the metaverse’s design is interoperable and ensures cross-platform functionality of avatars, digital assets, and currencies. 

Content Creation

Just like the internet, where users can create and publish content, the metaverse allows users to create, publish, and sell assets, often in the form of NFTs. For the metaverse to expand and grow like the Internet, content creation also means that users can develop their own facets of the metaverse like how people contribute to the internet by developing websites and services.

Integration

As one of its primary goals, the metaverse aims to integrate the virtual world with the real world to help people access and take advantage of the best of both of them. Businesses with brick-and-mortar facilities may integrate with the metaverse with digital services and a virtual presence. Likewise, the purposes of some virtual content and digital assets may extend into the real world.

Virtual world

The technology driving the Metaverse

As sophisticated as the metaverse may sound, the technology required for currently available virtual spaces is relatively common. For many virtual worlds, one only needs a computer, or even a wireless device, that can handle a large amount of graphics and image processing.  

Besides a computer or mobile device, users need an internet connection, the software of their preferred virtual spaces, and cryptocurrency wallets to store their digital money and NFT assets. You can also download specialized software to launch your own version of the metaverse and invite your friends and family to join.

The metaverse itself, however, does require several advanced technologies to offer complete integration with the physical world. These technologies include:

Blockchain and NFTs

The foundation of the metaverse economy, the blockchain allows users to make transactions and businesses to sell digital services. Users also own their digital assets as NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens) as these tokens contain digital signatures to certify their owner and record their history.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI helps personalize the user’s individual metaverse experience, similar to the AI social media algorithms that individualize our feeds based on our preferences. AI will also help construct and simulate virtual spaces more rapidly than human designers. Already in many virtual worlds and games, AI algorithms create many of the details in the 3D spaces.

Virtual Reality

Using special Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, individuals can experience the digital world from a first-person point of view. In VR, a user can walk around and interact with virtual objects as if they were really there. In the past few years, there has been considerable development in VR headsets; they are now smaller, more comfortable, more realistic, and more affordable. One example, the Oculus Quest 2, released by Meta in 2020, sells for $300 and works with metaverses like Sandbox to provide users a more realistic-feeling user experience.

Augmented Reality

As the name suggests, augmented reality alters one’s current reality. Augmented reality (AR) technology digitally projects objects into the world that one sees through a lens. A few popular phone games already use AR. For example, the game Pokémon Go uses the camera feed and projects virtual pokèmon, which one can see through the screen, onto a real physical surface.

Developers often refer to the combination of VR and AR as Extended Reality or XR

Metaverse developers intend to make extensive use of XR technology to enhance the physical reality and create a seamless convergence of the physical and digital worlds. With XR, users will have a panoramic, 360˚ view of the metaverse and interact, face-to-face, with other avatars.

The graphic below illustrates the relationships between VR, AR, XR, and the metaverse:

Diagram, text  Description automatically generated
Source – Venturebeat

The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT devices consist of any device with an internet connection that shares data with other devices. For example, smart home devices such as WiFi-enabled light bulbs, virtual assistants, and security cameras are all IoT devices. Interactions between our household IoT devices and the metaverse will create a more coherent integration of our virtual and normal realities.

The above technologies require no work from the consumer. Rather, the technology vendors deploying the metaverse in an out-of-the-box format will incorporate all of the components.  All the consumer will have to do is pick a suitable VR device and start exploring the digital world.

Top Metaverse Applications

Many criticize the metaverse for being nothing more than a virtual reality video game. However, it possesses much more infrastructure and resources to allow for a variety of useful applications. Below, we will discuss a few examples:

Healthcare

Metaverse technologies can allow medical school students to simulate surgeries and dissections in a virtual reality space. Medical school requires that first-year students dissect a corpse.  Though, sometimes, obtaining viable corpses can pose problems. Not to mention, many new students may feel squeamish around a dead body.

But all of this can be replicated in the digital world, through the use of the Metaverse. Surgeons can also refine their techniques and even experiment with surgery robots before using them on real patients. The metaverse will likely expand the possibilities for Telehealth as well. We have already seen many healthcare apps create a better experience for patients and doctors.

A virtual world may improve patients’ healthcare experiences even more. In cases where patients feel nervous about seeing their doctor face to face, or, as we have seen with the pandemic, worry about spreading or contracting diseases by visiting the hospital, they can represent themselves as an avatar and carry on a medical conversation with their primary care physician virtually.

Education

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational sector drastically changed how students take classes and learn new material.  Many institutions offered and continue to offer remote, e-learning and virtual classes over Zoom.  Although some students struggle to learn content remotely, it is highly anticipated that the metaverse can resolve these issues. Ideally, the metaverse will simulate a functional classroom where instructors can teach and students can learn seamlessly.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing process has undergone huge development, now often implementing both artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in process automation. But this can come with risks when businesses need to test parts and products for the first time.  Luckily, the metaverse will allow manufacturers to virtually design and test products in simulations with real-world physics.

Social Media

Some companies believe the metaverse will revolutionize social interactions by connecting everyone in a virtual world. Instead of representing one’s digital presence with only a profile page, in the metaverse, one may have a plot of land, personalized with various digital possessions, that the user’s friends can visit with only a few clicks.

How to Join the Metaverse

If you have a computer or phone with decent graphics and a stable internet connection, you already have everything you need to get started exploring the metaverse. The first step to joining is to decide which virtual world you want to enter first. Currently, several companies offer virtual metaverse worlds. Popular options include:

All these worlds offer immersive, virtual spaces for concurrent users to interact, play games, create, and explore. 

Metaverse Avatar

The next step to starting your virtual life is to create an avatar to represent you in the metaverse. All the aforementioned worlds offer avatar creation tools for users to customize their digital appearance. Later, you can adjust your avatar’s appearance, by changing its features and outfit. In all metaverse interactions, other users will see you as your avatar.

Metaverse avatar

Use a Virtual Reality Headset

You can enhance your experience more by purchasing a VR headset. With VR, the metaverse will become significantly more immersive, tracking your avatar’s movements to your physical motion and surrounding you with a 360˚ panoramic view of the space.

Meta, formerly Facebook, currently offers the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, one of the best VR systems for the price ($299), and promotes it as a tool to play VR games and experience the metaverse. With a headset such as this one, users can enter a virtual space as they would do on their computers and begin exploring the immersive environment. However, the number of virtual worlds that support VR is still limited.

Crypto and NFTs

The next step in fully entering into the metaverse is to engage in the virtual economies they offer. In many of these virtual worlds, users buy and sell land, digital items, collectibles, assets, avatar outfits, and more as NFTs. As businesses offer services and products in the metaverse, the virtual economy will expand even more.

To engage in the metaverse economy, you will have to make a crypto wallet and link it to your account. Afterward, your wallet will contain all your cryptocurrency and NFT possessions, and you’ll be ready to participate in the metaverse economy.

How to invest and make money in the Metaverse

Because the metaverse is still new and possesses incredible potential, it presents us with lucrative opportunities to get involved at its start and profit from its predicted growth. As of now, there are already several ways to make money in the metaverse. Here, we will discuss the three most accessible methods for new metaverse entrepreneurs.

NFTs

If you are a designer or an artist, you can create and auction off your own NFT collections, earning money from sales and resales. Right now, NFTs are revolutionizing the digital art and collectibles market. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the best high-value NFTs currently on the market.

You can also earn money by trading NFTs. The value of some NFTs increases dramatically after their original sale, so finding NFT projects and signing up to buy one at the mint price may prove very profitable if it gains popularity. 

Real Estate

As interest in the digital world increases, so does the value of digital real estate. In the metaverse, users can buy plots of land and own them as NFTs. If you buy a plot of virtual land, you can make money with it in a few different ways:

  • Renting: you can rent out your virtual land to users or developers.
  • Flipping: you can trade your land if the value appreciates.
  • Advertising: you can use your land for virtual billboards and receive ad revenue.
  • Build a Commercial Venue: You can also develop your land and build a virtual business to serve other users.

Virtual Business

Because the metaverse aims to offer an enhanced reality to perform everyday activities, there are plenty of opportunities for virtual business. Think of this like you would starting a website for your business on the internet. In the metaverse, businesses can evolve e-commerce, serving customers digitally and offering them products and services through an immersive, virtual marketplace. 

Final thoughts on the metaverse

With huge market potential and predicted growth, the metaverse merges our everyday lives with a persistent and immersive virtual space. Although metaverse activities are currently limited, you can still join a virtual world today and get involved in its early stages.

Before we know it, the metaverse may revolutionize how we conduct business, provide healthcare services, learn new information, interact with friends, and more, similar to the ways the internet changed our world in the last few decades.

Tomas Velasquez

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