Human Imagination has the power of creation. Right from the dawn of time, man has utilised and explored his capabilities to innovate and create something that may one day change the course of his destiny. This innate quality has given birth to many ideas among which is the idea of a post-reality universe- The Metaverse.
Metaverse can be defined as a perpetual and persistent multiuser environment that amalgamates physical reality and digital virtuality. It is a complex convergence of different technologies that enable multisensory interactions with the virtual environment, digital objects and people such as virtual reality and augmented reality. It will enable real-time communication and dynamic interaction with the digital artefacts. If this idea gets properly executed it can bring the fourth wave of computing innovation that will revolutionise education, business, entertainment etc.
Features of Metaverse: Current Scenario and Future Prospects
The current concept of metaverse focuses on providing realistic experiences to the people. The features are accordingly designed to fulfil those parameters and to bring virtuality in the best form. The following are some of the foundational ideas on which the metaverse will structuralize.
Realism: The idea of realism in context to the metaverse is to provide a real-life experience to the user. This can be achieved by ensuring the emotional engagement of the user with the environment by activating the senses of sight, sound and touch. If the user’s physical actions are similar to his or her virtual ‘avatar’, he or she may feel the virtual surroundings in a more realistic form.
Ubiquity: The physical world is ubiquitous in several ways. And to create a virtual world similar to our world with ubiquitous availability and access, we need to consider the concept of UbiComp or Ubiquitous Computing. This means that there will be a massive presence of digital devices throughout our real-world surroundings.
Interoperability: Metaverse is an abstract idea but the complexity behind it is quite high. To provide such a realistic experience, it must encapsulate the ability of interoperability. Interoperability is how distinct systems and subnetworks exchange information and interact with each other seamlessly and transparently. Interoperability might be viewed as a technology required for ubiquity.
Scalability: To provide one of a kind experience, the virtual world must be designed to face the challenge of scalability. Metaverse must provide a milieu of human culture and interaction so to make it realistic and hence scalability will be the most crucial and challenging feature of all. The number of users ( avatars ) interacting with each other at a given moment, the number of objects in a given surrounding and the type, scope and range of interaction among concurrent users
will be defined by this feature.
Our entry into Metaverse
Metaverse is an idea on which different organisations are working. CEEK, Sandbox etc. are some of the projects that are testing the limits of Metaverse. We can enter the Metaverse by using a VR headset and hop into the world just by being in a room.
By entering into the Metaverse, we can indulge ourselves in all those activities that we do in the real world. From doing corporate meetings to travelling, everything can be done in this virtual world. We can even buy property, apply for a job and can invest our earnings in different assets. Celebrities and corporate giants are buying properties in Metaverse as an investment and also to mark their presence in the virtual world.
Metaverse: The Virtual land of Opportunities
Metaverse is now emerging as a multi-billion dollar opportunity. It has transformed our economy in two ways: first by providing an alternative investment instrument by way of blockchain and second by opening up new asset classes like cryptocurrencies and digital assets.
There are six major ways for the people with which they can grow their investment in Metaverse, multiple folds after considering the risk factor. They are
Investment in Metaverse Crypto: Purchasing cryptocurrency is one of the easiest ways to invest in Metaverse as it has very few bureaucratic barriers that may hinder the activity. Some of the top Metaverse investors will be found in nearly every exchange, including BLOK from Bloktopia, SAND from Sandbox, MANA from Decentraland etc. As the Metaverse platform matures, their respective token values grow simultaneously.
Acquiring virtual land in Metaverse: The analyst believes that this form of investment market may reach 1 billion US$ this year. To invest in Metaverse land, the investor must have a digital wallet. After selecting the platform and exploring the parcel, one can make a purchase. This is comparatively a risky investment as the right evaluation of the property is dependent on different factors.
Buying and Renting prefabricated Metaverse buildings: This method needs a minimum investment threshold that is quite high. An investor or businessman could acquire a virtual structure and use it as a storefront to showcase a 3D replica of their real-world product in the Metaverse.
Purchasing Metaverse Stocks: This option can be explored by serious investors as it requires the same level of understanding that is needed while investing in the real-world stock market. They are tradeable on a traditional stock exchange. Some of the major stocks in this category include Meta Platform Inc, Electronic Arts, Roblox Corp and Nvidia.
Exchange-Traded Funds: ETFs share a similar concept to that of mutual funds. They allow you to purchase a collection of stocks that are dynamically traded by a dedicated fund manager. Investment in ETFs is risky as it requires prior experience and knowledge of stock markets.
Non Fungible Tokens: One can create three-dimensional objects and can list them on the Metaverse marketplace for sale. This requires technical understanding which is quite challenging.
Investment in Metaverse NFTs can also be done by buying them at a lesser cost and selling them for a greater price.
Apart from these methods, there are other methods to invest in Metaverse, but the investor must have a background in these activities.
Metaverse: Developments and Challenges
The term Metaverse first appeared in Neal Stevenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash published in 1992. In 2011, Ernest Cline reincarnated the idea of the Metaverse in his literary work- Ready Player, where OASIS was described with characteristics similar to that of the Metaverse.
Today Metaverse has far deeper implications and greater objectives to fulfil. But this great expectation is accompanied by great challenges.
Metaverse faces several challenges related to underlying AR and VR technologies. Both technologies are persuasive and can influence users, cognition, emotion and behaviour. The high cost of the gadgets will cause a hindrance to mass adoption that is expected to be mitigated in the long run. There are risks related to AR that includes negative impact on physical and mental health, change in ethical and moral principles and also issue of data privacy and cyber security. More importantly, Metaverse avatars can be tempted to compile users' biometric psychology based on user date emotions.
Related to VR, issues like nausea, dizziness and motion sickness may arise. Long use of heavy VR headsets may also result in head and neck fatigue. Apart from these issues, there are concerns regarding identity theft, cyberbullying and harassment.
If these issues are not eliminated, the impact would be serious.
Metaverse is not a new concept, but the way we define it today is completely new. It has different dimensions that are yet needed to be explored.
This idea can revolutionise and transform not only our activities but also ourselves. Like Meta-Education which can open new doors for opportunities and learning. If the execution is done properly after eliminating its drawbacks, it can bring wonders to human society.