Why is big tech obsessed with Metaverse?

From getting married, attending office meetings to trying out the latest Gucci collection, we take a closer look at all that metaverse might be able to offer.

 

Unless you have been living under a rock, or taking a long break from the internet and social media during these unprecedented times, you are likely to have come across the concept of metaverse. While it is still at a nascent stage, metaverse is an ambitious project that experts believe will change life as we know it.


How one would go about building a metaverse and how people will engage with it even now lacks clarity, there are many others who believe that it will be built soon. 



The origin 


Metaverse finds its origins in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel titled ‘Snow Crash’, which is about a man who delivers pizza during the day and is a VR superhero at night, who exists in an online universe called the metaverse. 


This new vision of the internet found its way to mainstream conversations, when Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook announced that the social media site will be renamed “Meta”, to reflect its commitment to becoming a metaverse company. 


What is metaverse?


“It’s a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think of this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at,” said Zuckerberg while defining the metaverse.

And to be honest, it is probably the best explanation we have so far. When you are texting your friend “LOL” without actually laughing out loud in reality, you are creating a parallel reality online. With metaverse, you might actually be able to laugh out loud in response to that friend. 


Imagine being able to log into a virtual world using an AR headset and throwing a party, where all your friends who have moved apart after college show up, each in their virtual avatar of course. You can buy virtual land to host your event and also up your style with digital-only sneakers. 


Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


In a metaverse, you can theoretically feel people, interact with the elements in the environment and hear one another. 


When will we have metaverse?


Well, if we did happen to go by Zuckerberg, it will take anywhere between five to 10 years, until the metaverse becomes mainstream and can be accessed by online users. 


However, venture capitalist Matthew Ball disagrees with this timeline, noting that the internet in its current form is not designed for the metaverse experience. While we have the technologies that can be found in a metaverse, none of them operate at the same level as that of a digital world, argues Ball. It will take decades to build the metaverse, he says. 


How will it change our lives?


While the metaverse may be decades away, AR and VR media formats might be available soon and more and more companies are expected to start embracing immersive technologies. 


Recently, a couple got married in the metaverse. We are not kidding. The New York Times reported that the couple got hitched inside Vibrela’s virtual world. Friends and family from all over the world attended the wedding.


It is not difficult to imagine working in a dedicated office space on virtual land in the metaverse permanently. In this case, you might even be interacting with your colleagues and holding meetings virtually. 


For those who love shopping, the metaverse could mean walking into Balenciaga and Gucci stores online and buying clothes for your digital avatar from their latest collections. Both Balenciaga and Gucci have already partnered with Fortnite and Roblox respectively to make it a reality.


In the future, gaming, buying real estate and even art, in the metaverse might mean  more revenue since people can choose to get married, play, dress up and buy art virtually in the metaverse.


While you may still be wondering whether you will be expected to continue working from home or get to the workplace, the tech world is actually trying to manifest a virtual world that may make meeting in person obsolete. 


The headline reads - why is big tech obsessed with Metaverse? I feel like the story does not directly answer the question. While you have covered how it will change the lives of users at large, how the metaverse will impact companies in terms of innovation, market, revenue, expansion/growth, etc is not clearly spoken about. Can you please see if you can add a paragraph about this too?


 

Edited by Roshni Shroff

Cover image illustration by Jyothi Syam

 

Some resources to help you gain a better understanding of the metaverse: 


Why Digital India is a pioneer in the metaverse


Everything Facebook revealed about the Metaverse in 11 minutes