The last decade has witnessed rapid technological advancements. The evolution of technology to Web 3.0 has been emphasized to improve human lives and shape distinctive aspects of the digital world, enriching our daily experiences.
While you may have experienced several new life phenomena with artificial intelligence, another innovation that is gaining momentum is the Metaverse- the digital universe.
What is Metaverse?
Before we dwell on the technology that led to the existence of a digital paradise, let’s understand Metaverse.
Imagine a digital world where people are working, traveling, shopping, gaming, and more. Imagine a universe where the physical and virtual world meets through the internet to provide immersive digital experiences. This virtual world is now a reality with Metaverse.
The concept of Metaverse can be traced back to 1983 when the concept of binocular vision was framed by scientist Charles Wheatstone. The concept led to the invention of stereoscopes, a technology in which the illusion of depth creates an image, presently perceived through modern VR headsets.
The term Metaverse was first introduced by Neil Stevenson in his novel Snow Crash in 1982. He defined the Metaverse as a virtual reality, a place where avatars could escape to a whole new world of reality.
What is Metaverse technology?
Now that the world of Metaverse seems fascinating, let us understand how technology has shaped this new digital space.
AR & VR
The world of Metaverse is integrated with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), technologies that allow interaction in metaverse virtual reality and digital products.
To first understand the concept of AR and VR, let us take a simple example here from the retail segment. IKEA launched the Place application allowing users to use augmented reality with their cameras to place furniture around the home and see how it appears visually. This initiative provided customers with the ability to understand the suitability and fit of furniture style and type in a particular ambience.
Artificial Intelligence enables adaptive environments with machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and computer vision to enable virtual entities to respond to human input, creating real-life experiences in the virtual world.
The decentralized feature of blockchain provides immense potential to the metaverse. The technology facilitates secure transactions, digital ownership, and unique digital assets in the virtual world. It helps create a decentralized economy and content creation that is user-driven, fueling the growth of the metaverse reality.
How does Metaverse technology work?
The metaverse is like an advanced version of the internet that is more immersive and integrated with virtual reality (VR). Currently, we access online platforms using devices like laptops and browsers. In the metaverse, this experience is enhanced by using VR headsets instead of laptops, allowing us to access websites and services in a more immersive way.
The vision for the metaverse goes beyond just VR internet. People are imagining it as a merger between the physical world and the digital world. In this mixed world, people can live, socialize and work in a single virtual space. There is also no need to switch between devices or physical locations. You may find it like something which is way beyond science but the technology to make this happen is already being developed.
How to access the metaverse?
The first and foremost thing to know how to use Metaverse you need to know the Metaverse technology requirements. First and foremost, you should have a reliable internet connection, especially in bandwidth-intensive virtual worlds.
A computer, tablet, or mobile device connected to the internet is essential to access the metaverse. While not mandatory, a virtual reality headset can enhance immersion and enable 3D interaction within the virtual space.
Some metaverse platforms utilize digital currency for transactions, so having access to digital currency may be beneficial for purchasing assets, services, or experiences in the metaverse.
While some virtual environments can be explored using a smartphone, a Windows PC is typically recommended for the optimal experience due to the resource-intensive nature of most metaverse platforms.
Although you can access many metaverse platforms through a smartphone or computer, using a VR headset or smart glasses can provide a more immersive adventure. Nowadays, tech companies are actively developing augmented reality glasses to simplify and enhance the experience. It allows participants to interact with both the real and virtual worlds in real-time.
While VR headsets are not always mandatory for most platforms, there are some platforms, such as Meta’s Horizon, that require specific VR headsets, like the Meta Quest 2. The Meta Quest 2 is a standalone VR headset that doesn’t need a separate PC or console to function.
You can access the Metaverse with a VR headset like Oculus Quest 2. These are developed by Meta platforms. Follow these steps to access Metaverse using a VR headset:
- Set up your Oculus Quest 2 by downloading the Oculus app on your phone and creating an account.
- Download the virtual reality applications you wish to use.
- Open the app drawer in the menu, where all the apps are there.
- Select a metaverse platform and get into the virtual world.
For those without a VR headset, many metaverse platforms can still be accessed through a computer, smartphone, or video game console. Platforms like Roblox, Minecraft, Pokémon Go, Decentraland, Fortnite, and Horizon for smartphones can be explored without VR headsets. These browser-based virtual realities allow you to interact with other metaverse participants and create your virtual world.
What is a defining feature of the metaverse?
The Metaverse stands out from other digital realms due to its three defining features: immersion, interoperability, and persistence.
The Metaverse offers a high level of immersion by leveraging technologies like virtual reality. It creates a fully immersive environment where users can engage with each other and digital objects naturally, providing a sense of presence and involvement.
Interoperability is an important aspect of the Metaverse. This enables different systems and devices to communicate and exchange data seamlessly. Through standardized interfaces and protocols, the Metaverse allows various technologies to work together effectively, facilitating the transition between multiple virtual worlds without losing progress or identity.
Persistence refers to the virtual world’s ability to endure and progress over an extended period. Persistence is achieved through blockchain technology. It establishes a distributed ledger to preserve the state of the virtual world. This ensures the integrity and continuity of the virtual world over time.
Applications of metaverse
The fundamental understanding of the metaverse and its characteristics provides a solid groundwork for exploring its various applications. We can see a continuous advancement of technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality (XR) these days. With this, there is a growing interest in applying these technologies to expand use cases of the metaverse in the real world.
While gaming and social networks are commonly associated with metaverse applications, numerous other promising domains demonstrate the true potential of the metaverse for the future.
These are the applications of a metaverse in the different sectors:
The healthcare sector represents one of the primary areas where metaverse applications are being explored. Augmented reality is a main technology that is used to enhance the skills and knowledge of medical students. For instance, AR-assisted surgical tools, such as Microsoft HoloLens, aid surgeons in various procedures. These technologies improve the precision and speed of surgical interventions by providing real-time patient data, monitoring vital signs, and assisting with vein identification.
2. Real estate
Virtual reality plays a significant role in the metaverse’s applications within the real estate sector. VR enables immersive virtual property tours for potential buyers, offering realistic experiences and allowing multimedia elements such as ambient music and narration. This immersive exploration helps boost clients’ confidence, saves time and resources for real estate agents, and facilitates customized property tours tailored to individual preferences.
Metaverse technologies are increasingly being integrated into the education sector. Virtual reality can transform traditional teaching methods by providing visual and immersive learning experiences. Metaverse applications in education break language barriers and allow for interactive and engaging learning environments. VR can assist in error detection, real-time editing, and incorporating multiple languages, thereby enhancing the educational experience.
The military sector has recognized the potential of the metaverse, particularly through the use of VR and AR. Tactical augmented reality (TAR) enhances soldiers’ situational awareness by displaying precise locations of allies and hostiles, serving as a substitute for handheld GPS gadgets. The Synthetic Training Environment utilizes augmented reality to create realistic combat simulations, offering immersive training experiences for military personnel.
Metaverse applications are also emerging in the manufacturing sector. VR applications provide training on safety protocols and simulate risk scenarios, reducing the likelihood of accidents. Metaverse technologies aid in product development by enabling detailed examination of product elements and facilitating better landscape planning and equipment positioning. Companies like Ford utilize virtual reality to access locked-down models, enabling efficient manufacturing processes.
Metaverse vs virtual reality
You may get confused with metaverse and virtual reality. But there are several differences that we can’t ignore. While both offer immersive experiences, they are distinct technologies. Understanding these differences is essential for businesses in the modern age.
The metaverse is a futuristic 3D virtual world that consists of interconnected virtual realities. It is not a single virtual world but a collection of digital universes where users interact through digital avatars. Organizations are building their iterations of the metaverse, offering limitless possibilities. Devices like VR headsets, smart glasses, or augmented reality (AR) devices are necessary to enter the metaverse. Smartphones or tablets can also be used. Achieving realism in the metaverse is a challenge, as it requires high-grade graphics and advanced technologies.
On the other hand, VR is a fully immersive three-dimensional computerized environment. It creates a holographic space and gives users the feeling of being present in that space. VR is just one medium through which users can connect with the metaverse. VR technology uses head-mounted displays or headsets to access the virtual world. It has found applications in various industries, such as medicine and education.
Some key differences between the metaverse and VR are:
The metaverse offers a cross-platform experience, allowing global interaction in the virtual world. VR technology, on the other hand, operates through specific platforms like Oculus, SteamVR, or Quest. The metaverse encompasses VR as one of its features.
VR has certain technological limitations and requires hardware devices like headsets or goggles to experience the virtual space. In contrast, the metaverse has no such restrictions and can be accessed through various technologies like AR, VR, or mixed reality (MR).
Possession of 3D entities
In VR, users have no ownership of the technology itself but only possess the physical hardware. In the metaverse, users can own virtual objects, digital assets, and goods, granting them complete ownership of virtual entities.
User convenience of virtual spaces
VR experiences are limited to the use of headsets or glasses and often involve a predefined number of digital avatars, such as in online games. The metaverse, however, offers an open environment where users can freely move around anywhere in the virtual world, similar to the real world.
The tenacity of shared virtual worlds
In the metaverse, digital avatars persist in the shared universe even after leaving the metaverse, offering continuity. In VR, when the VR device is turned off, the virtual reality experience also ends.
In conclusion, the metaverse offers a network of interconnected virtual realities where users can explore, interact, and trade in a 3D virtual world. With its limitless possibilities and cross-platform capabilities, the metaverse is poised to revolutionize industries and redefine how we experience digital environments. As the metaverse continues to evolve and expand, it presents exciting opportunities for businesses and individuals to embrace immersive and interconnected realities.
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