What is the metaverse?
The Metaverse is, a fully realised digital world that exists beyond the actual one in which we live in. That may conjure up thoughts of The Matrix, but it is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, avid gamers who play on platforms like Fortnite already use this technology with avatars that allow them to interact and chat with friends and competitors in real time around the world.
Who is leading the charge on the metaverse?
The most immediate name that you will recognise is that of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has recently rebranded his empire to Meta. To be clear, Zuckerberg is not exactly a trailblazer in this arena. Companies like Nvidia, Disney, Roblox and even Microsoft, have been building virtual worlds with virtual or augmented reality tech.
Gaming and the metaverse
The Metaverse is a cornerstone of some of the most popular gaming applications. Virtual reality is integrated into many new and traditional video games making it a truly immersive experience. As technological advancements propel the industry forward, many top gaming companies are partnering up to provide the next era of gaming.
The next gaming phase will involve more than just virtual reality. A good example of this is that the current Oculus VR system allows people to experience applications on their VR gear or smartphones. The primary difference with the metaverse is that gamers can experience their “world” with a 360-degrees point of view and can almost feel like they are even touching things as a part of their perception.
The fact IRL or “in real life” is used now as a common term to differentiate between the real world and a virtual world speaks for just how prolific the metaverse has become in gaming. You only need to look at the blockbuster film Free Guy, with Ryan Reynolds which admittedly is more the stuff of sci-fi but does show just how blurred the boundary between IRL and the metaverse could become in the future.
What else could be affected via the metaverse?
In a nutshell - almost everything! The metaverse is sure to include all kinds of multi-person interactions where people can invite others to participate in activities and build relationships through other virtual worlds. Picture virtual cocktail parties, virtual dating and even things like virtual family reunions where you don’t even have to leave the house!
Another area prime for development is health, science and medicine as a trip to the doctor’s office for a check-up or examination could be a thing of the past. Instead, doctors will be able to perform the same analysis techniques they would use in their actual offices in the metaverse instead. The best part is this means that patients may be able to access the best experts in specific fields without having to consider where in the world they are located. Talk about a leap forward in the quality of care!
What could the Metaverse mean for offices (and office space) in the future?
For hybrid working online meetings could take a whole new form. The buzz is that companies could use the same tools that gamers leverage to craft a ‘cyber hub’ to do business. Cyber hubs will be spaces carved out in physical offices that will have the tech tools needed for those in the actual space to interact with those that are remoter via the metaverse. Picture a room with office furniture and sofas that also VR glasses, cameras and presentation tools that will give the feel of everyone being in the same space while engaging in real time. With a Metaverse version of a meeting space, the way we collaborate, present, exchange ideas and socialise with colleagues, could be so much more engaging and efficient.
What’s the impact of the growth of the Metaverse?
Less in-person interaction
Many are not keen on the concept saying that physically and psychologically we are already losing our personal connections with each other and therefore our innate and primate need for close interaction will suffer. We’re already seeing some RSPs recognising this and incorporating it into their corporate social responsibility approach.
Updates to popular online games like Fortnite in the last two years already drive the highest peaks in data usage on Chorus broadband networks. With whole worlds created digitally it’s not surprising. As those worlds become more immersive as part of the metaverse, it’s only natural data usage is going to increase.
The metaverse promises to bring new levels of social connection, mobility and collaboration to a world and it is certainly something to keep a keen pulse on. Just remember though, with massive volumes of data being consumed, to make the most of whatever the metaverse of the future will bring, a fast fibre broadband connection with ultra-low latency will be key.
1. Expert consensus on the metaverse in medicine, Science Direct, 5 December 202