The year is 2070. Humans have evolved to transcend the physical world. Everyone now exists not only as a person in real life, but also as their avatar in the Metaverse. We can now interact with one another, transact business, attend meetings, conferences, concerts, travel across the world, experience anything and everything, all without ever physically moving an inch.
This might sound like science fiction and something that will never happen in our lifetime, but Facebook’s recent name change to Meta and its obvious pivot into the Metaverse, is a clear indication that the future might not be so far away.
But just before we get ahead of ourselves, what is the Metaverse? And why is Facebook so interested in this new technology? Let’s jump right in. Into the Metaverse.
What is “The Metaverse”?
Coined by Neal Stephenson in the 1992 novel “Snow Crash”, Metaverse refers to a fictional reality, one that we can see, feel, touch, and experience, but that does not exist in the real world. Think about Virtual Reality, but much more advanced. So advanced that you would no longer need the bulky headsets and you might not be able to differentiate what reality is real, and what is virtual.
The vision for Metaverse is to create a virtual environment with tech, the next step from staring and tapping away at our phone screens. Metaverse will be an endless interconnection of virtual communities where people can meet, work, play, and do business. In the future, we will start living our virtual lives the same way we do our physical lives.
Although the idea for the Metaverse has been around for a while, the global pandemic of 2020, definitely fast-tracked its development. 2020 was a terrible year for the entire world. With people not being able to meet physically, businesses were shut down, entertainment events had to be cancelled, and people couldn’t connect with each other on a much deeper level. The level of depth that can only be achieved by physical interaction.
The incredible shock of the pandemic jolted the tech giants into action. The world had changed, and we needed to change with it.
Now that the pandemic is more a thing of the past, people who have embraced the new world are not eager to go back to the way things were before. People more than ever, now prefer working from home, companies have started favoring virtual programs more, and all forms of media are moving towards virtual spaces.
There Will Be a Virtual Experience for Almost Everything
And in a world with less and less physical interaction, the next truly logical step is the Metaverse. Think about it, you can test out your clothes and see exactly how they fit before buying them. You’ll be able to attend any concert in any part of the world with friends and other fans from all over the world standing right beside you, music blasting through your ears like you’re standing right in front of the speakers.
You’ll be able to travel to any part of the world and experience the beauty mother nature has to offer without leaving the comfort of your own home. Too scared to skydive in real life? Just jump in the Metaverse! Can’t afford to fly to Seoul for a BTS concert? Join a friend at the event live and experience it just like you would physically.
The vision is so astonishing that you have to pause and ask… Is this even possible? Well, Neal Stephenson in 1992 would have said it’s nothing but Science Fiction, but the truth is, the foundational pillars for the Metaverse currently exist. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, these are things that you can do today that will be integral parts of the Metaverse tomorrow.
Facebook, or should I say, Meta, just recently launched Horizon Workrooms, a virtual meeting software for companies. When used with its Oculus VR headset, co-workers can see and interact with each other in a virtual office, instead of a standard video call grid.
Yes the reviews for this software have not been great, but it’s still early days, and with Facebook completely pivoting to the Metaverse, it seems as though the company might be putting all of its efforts into this new world.
Why is Facebook Pivoting?
The question now is why? Why is Facebook risking damage to its already successful business model to try something new? Well, first, Facebook’s reputation worsens by the day. With all the anti-trust crackdown the company has been facing and the public scrutiny for the amount of data they collect and sell to advertisers, it might just be the right time to jump ship.
Second, anyone who believes that the Metaverse is going to be the next direction in the world of tech is going to want a piece of the pie. And since Facebook currently owns the biggest piece of the Social Media pie, the current global craze, it makes a lot of sense that they’ll want to hold that lion share when the world pivots into something new. So why not get in early and be the face of change?
And Facebook is not the only company interested in the Metaverse. Video game companies are currently taking the leading role as well, maybe because they already understand what it takes to build digital worlds.
Companies like Microsoft and Nvidia are investing heavily into the Metaverse, while Epic Games the maker of Fortnite, one of the best examples of a Metaverse, has raised $1 billion to aid its long-term plan to build in the metaverse. Roblox is also heavily interested, as it described the Metaverse as a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create, and socialize.”