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What is the metaverse, and how do you access it?

Posted by Shivali Anand

March 17, 2022    |     5-minute read (863 words)

Facebook changed its name to Meta, and it's no longer just a social media company — it bills itself as a metaverse company. But what does the buzzy term metaverse even mean? 

Simply put, the metaverse comprises an entirely immersive virtual environment where individuals can interact, shop, work and play as they would in the real world. Users access and interact with the metaverse with augmented reality headsets. 

Upon Facebook’s relaunch to Meta in October 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: "I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet." Awareness of the word has surged ever since.

While Zuckerberg predicts the metaverse will be ubiquitous in five to 10 years, venture capitalist Matthew Ball said in a 2020 article that the internet wasn't built for the metaverse experience and that it would take decades to establish. Ball argues that many contemporary technologies are incapable of performing at the level required by the metaverse.

What are the possibilities in the metaverse for people?

The metaverse is expected to significantly impact how we interact online, how businesses advertise, how rapidly cryptocurrency gains acceptance and many other aspects of our lives. Companies like Nike are starting to plan how to have their products emerge in the metaverse, much like Ferrari did in the Fortnite game.

Here are some notable metaverse experiences as they exist at the time of publication:

1. Playing games

Electronic Arts and Second Life by Linden Lab's The Sims features a metaverse-like shared virtual world where players interact and participate in events using digital avatars. Users may buy virtual land and use it to construct their own worlds in the Sandbox and Decentraland metaverses, but you must first purchase a piece of land to insert your content and monetize it.

2. Shopping

To shop in the metaverse, you must first create a virtual wallet to store digital currency to purchase metaverse coins. You can buy luxury clothes, a virtual residence and other things in the virtual world using that metaverse cash.

3. Business communications

Microsoft leaders think the metaverse has the potential to transform the way we work and is developing tools for virtual reality meetings, virtual workplaces and other applications. Take note that you are technically in the metaverse if you join in a virtual business conference with other colleagues represented by avatars. Microsoft just paid $75 billion for gaming company Activision Blizzard, which is termed as a "gateway to the metaverse."

4. Real estate purchases and sales

On most digital platforms, plots of "land" are represented by X and Y coordinates on a map encompassing the metaverse universe. Each property is converted into a nonfungible token (NFT) that may be sold directly to consumers or through a secondary market like OpenSea. When you buy a plot of land through an NFT, your transaction is recorded on the platform's blockchain and you get the ownership of that plot of land in the metaverse.

What are the potential business opportunities?

Several tech behemoths are working feverishly to bring the metaverse to life. The computational capacity of today's CPUs would need to expand 1000-fold to power the metaverse, according to Raja Koduri, who oversees Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Groups.

Among the other firms that contribute to the metaverse are:

• Meta is putting money towards technology that allows you to interact with virtual items in the digital realm.
• Niantic provides avatar creation tools as well as advertising packages.
• Tinder is establishing a Single Town in the virtual world where singles can meet their true partner.
• The projected Disney metaverse will allow you to connect with your favorite characters.
• Warner Music has invested in several firms that are developing metaverse technologies and platforms.
• Early-stage metaverses Roblox and TakeTwo are used by developers to create games.

Technologies required for metaverse access

Several groups are collaborating to create the metaverse and ensure compatibility between its various services. Patrick Cozzi, CEO of 3D geospatial platform Cessium, is one of the most vocal proponents of keeping the metaverse interoperable so that users can migrate their data among multiple metaverses.

Anyone with an internet connection, a smartphone, a game console or a computer can access the metaverse. The surroundings for VR and AR platforms will require hardware such as industrial cameras, projection and tracking systems and scanning sensors.

Individuals must be able to see, touch and experience the metaverse's extraordinary vision, necessitating groundbreaking gadgets, controllers and hardware support. The following are four pieces of equipment built expressly for entering the metaverse:

• Haptic gloves – Haptic gloves allow users to experience tactile interactions in the virtual world, such as grabbing things, textured surfaces and even the weight and softness of objects.

• Virtual reality headset – A virtual reality helmet is one of the essential pieces of equipment for entering the metauniverse. Meta is working on Project Cambria, a next-generation virtual reality headgear with real-time face and eye-tracking.

• Tactile electronic skin ReSkin – Meta's AI section created a 2 to 3 mm thick tactile sensor called ReSkin to experience tactile contact in the virtual world.

• Wristband augmented reality sensor – Meta unveiled an augmented reality wristband sensor that can detect hand gestures and transform them into instructions to operate various devices in real-time.

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