Meta (Facebook), Google, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Tencent, and other technological giants claim that the modern internet will soon become outdated. Metaverses will come to replace the internet. These are virtual spaces where people can work, study, watch series, do sports, play, buy, sell goods, date people, and do many other daily routines. These companies start developing their metaverses to get a monopoly on the internet.
This article will tell you what metaverses are, how the users will see them, and what technologies are its ground. Moreover, we will advise you on choosing a development team to develop your metaverse or specific elements that can be integrated into other metaverses.
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What was the source idea of metaverses?
William Gibson’s books (Burning Chrome and the ‘Sprawl’ trilogy) and the anime Ghost in the Shell describe how virtual reality can merge our lives. Sources: on the left is the Neuromancer book cover, on the right is the Ghost in the Shell poster (1995)
It was not the IT giants who first spoke about the metaverses. These were the fiction writers. It is believed that Neal Stephenson came up with the term ‘metaverse’ in his cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, published in 1992. In the book, the Metaverse (Stephenson always writes this word with a capital letter) is a shared, virtual space that people access via a fiber-optic network, and the image is projected to VR glasses. You can connect using your avatar and do precisely the same actions you can in the real world, yet the virtual world is different. It is a fantasy universe where magic exists, and you can live an extraordinary life full of adventure.
We can see the same concepts in other works. For example, William Gibson wrote Burning Chrome in 1982. It is not his most well-known work, yet here he has described virtual reality for the first time. In two years, it became the most significant part of the Neuromancer from the Sprawl trilogy. It became a prototype for Stephenson's metaverse and many other works like Ghost in the Shell (1991), The Matrix (1999), or Ready Player One (2018).
Creating cyberspace describes the goal of Meta (Facebook), Google, and other corporations, since virtual reality in Gibson’s cyberspace is equally the same part of real-life as the internet is for us. Stephenson's Metaverse is slang for a virtual game that imitates fantasy reality.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta (Facebook) CEO, believes that in the future, we will create, work, study, buy, entertain, and communicate in virtual reality. Source
In his report ‘Metaverse and How We’ll Build It Together’, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the best way to understand a metaverse is to experience it. However, it is challenging to do since it does not exist yet. In the second part, he shared his vision on the metaverses as a new version of the internet, ‘you do not simply watch the content, you participate in it.’
The New Internet offers you everything you can imagine. You can play games, watch movies, work, create, buy, communicate with friends and family, and many other things that we can not do because of the borders of smartphones and computers. But with virtual or augmented reality, all these will be possible.
The metaverse will probably use several vital principles to function. A venture investor and writer, Matthew Boll, gave an explicit description to them. He says that a metaverse is a network of permanent, real-time visualized three-dimensional worlds and simulations that can maintain continuity of identity and objects. For it to function, the metaverse employs seven ground principles.
- The population of a metaverse is not limited. The idea is that everybody can access the virtual, just like everybody can create a Facebook account and use their profile any time. Unless following this condition, the network will not be a shared space for working, studying, communicating, and entertaining. Thus, it will not be meta.
- It is impossible to pause, stop, or delete a metaverse. Since the metaverse is a shared space for millions or billions of people, no one must be able to stop, pause, or delete the metaverse. Otherwise, the metaverse will freeze since anyone will want to pause it to go for a wee, phone talk, or sleep.
- The events in the metaverse are in real-time. If the time in the metaverse differs from the real one, it will be difficult to trace it. Furthermore, creating mixed realities will hardly become possible. Finally, a human brain is more likely to trust the virtual world if the time is equal.
- Metaverse inhabitants use natural world resources. People staying in the virtual world will use their laptops and workspace from the real world. If you write a report on your virtual notebook, it will appear on your actual laptop.
Moreover, people will be able to transfer items from one metaverse to another. For example, you can buy a piece of equipment set in World of Warcraft and share it with Fortnite or Call of Duty. The appearance and the features of an asset in one metaverse are not necessarily identical to the formation and the features of an investment from the other world. For example, a pistol from Fortnite will become a sword in World of Warcraft.
- Transfer digital assets in a metaverse. It concerns not only the game items (guns, equipment, potions, etc.) but real money, copyrights, files. People can do business in a metaverse, create, and trade things. Furthermore, the law should control and regulate it. Stealing genuine items and money in a metaverse should be equal to stealing in the real world (unless it is a part of a game, play, or agreement).
- People will get paid for working in a metaverse. Metaverses will have their economy, property, and other laws. These laws should protect the rights of the workers. For example, the workers must have protection for the scenario when the employer says that you will receive virtual money if you worked in virtual reality. A metaverse will have its jurisdictions, just as in the real world. Yet, it is hard to understand who will protect the rights, the country, or the metaverse creator. If the creator of the metaverse will defend the right, it is hard to understand which creator. The one where the worker creates the avatar, the one the worker worked in, or where the employer made the company?
In a perfect metaverse, people will own their avatars and virtual property, which must be protected by law. If a user wants to pass his property (experience and content) on the legacy, they will do it as in the real world. Avatars can probably be given to if these are game characters.
- The users in a metaverse can gain experience and content. The avatars (people and organization) in a metaverse can gain experience and content and pass it to other generations. It is important. Since Facebook, YouTube, Fortnite users do not have an ownership right on their accounts. These are the property of the platform, and if the owner of the platform wants to delete an invoice, they can do it without even notifying the user. This happens to the Trumps account on Twitter.
Who develops the metaverse projects?
Mark Zuckerberg has probably made the most assertive announcement about the intention of developing his metaverse. According to Google Trends, this was a hype topic after the conference. To prove his intentions, Facebook changed the company's brand name to Meta. Yet, many companies before developed their metaverses or planned to do it shortly. Here are some companies that build their metaverse:
- Epic Games. In December 2019, Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, said they want to make Fortnite an entrance hub for their metaverse. It is more than just words. In early 2021, Epic Games announced they completed a 1 billion dollars round to work on this idea. Sweeney says their virtual reality will be a shared space for creators and businesses where they can launch their worlds, interact and create market relationships.
- Microsoft. In May 2021, one of the biggest software suppliers announced its metaverse. Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO, claimed that Microsoft wants to create their Metaverse on the cloud platform Azure. The first step is launching the Mesh platform that provides a space for work and communication in mixed reality.
- Nvidia Corp (NVDA). The chipmaker has created its collaboration platform in the Omniverse virtual environment, which will grow into another metaverse. The company announced that they plan to scale their virtual platform. They want to add the feature of creating AI avatars. The developers will use these avatars to create virtual assistants that can be set for any purpose.
- Tencent. In 2021, a Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post wrote that a techno giant Tencent — the most prominent video games developer according to the income, plans to launch their metaverse for the Chinese market. However, they will do it under the communist party regulations.
- SNAP. The Snapchat owner showed their virtual reality glasses called VR BOX this year. It can identify the surfaces and objects of the natural world using two cameras. Then it analyzes the data and employs various augmented reality effects. Only several AR developers and artists have access to these glasses.
What is the technical side of a metaverse?
In a nutshell, the technical side of a metaverse is a system of virtual reality having the following elements:
This description is enough for a general understanding of the virtual reality systems for an everyday user. If you want to know more, here is a detailed description of the technologies ground for the metaverses and related projects.
NFT technologies. It is one of the critical elements of a metaverse since this technology provides the authenticity of an avatar and the metaverse’s objects. NFTs, help your avatars keep their appearance (face, body, clothes), contacts, history, experience, and content when transferring from one metaverse to another. For example, from Fortnite to Call of Duty.
- Technical drives (cloud, servers);
- Access devices (VR- and AR- helmets and glasses);
- Virtual and augmented reality (software);
- Rules and regulations of the system architecture.
Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar kept the appearance and the clothes when going from the virtual office to the virtual sea. This is an example of constant identity. Source
Transferring reality to VR/AR. People need instruments to scan the actual space in real-time to use augmented reality. Next, it will create a 3D model and beam it to the VR/AR glasses of the users. These gadgets already exist, like VR BOX, where two cameras scan and the software scan the space of the natural world and builds a VR model, a #D map of surfaces and objects.
These are the 4th generation of VR BOX glasses by SNAP. They have two cameras that scan the surfaces and objects in front of the glasses.
Mixed or Extended Reality (MX, XR). When a user is in VR or AR spaces, interacts with the object of a real-world *manages the digital machine, does a surgery, or types text on a laptop) or vice-versa (an architect creates a virtual model of a building, a spectator takes part in a virtual movie, a sportsman sees virtual signs on a sports ground). We need corresponding software solutions that are not yet developed to do these things. For example, the developers recently managed to teach a neural network such a simple task as defining the time for the analog clock. So, we are pretty far from the moment when a virtual object will adequately interact with the surfaces and things of the real world.
Pokémon Go is a perfect example of how popular augmented reality can become. Also, it shows the limitations of this technology. Source
Distributed computing and storage. We need enormous computing powers to create metaverses of massive and vivid objects and contents. The easiest way is to distribute calculations among multiple nodes, as happens in blockchain systems or systems like Folding@Home. It is a non-profit project aimed at researching serious diseases and drug development.
Artificial intelligence (AI). It is another critical technology that is a crucial part of the metaverse. AI is necessary to develop intelligent assistants for live interaction with people, fast software development, and develop more secure protection systems, enhancing the analytic methods (Big Data, science, marketing, etc.) and improving the biological virtual worlds. Also, it helps to strengthen the intellect of NPCs.
3D copy of Jensen Huang, Nvidia CEO. It can move its hands and speak about the world’s climate change. It is a perfect demonstration of an AI assistant created by Omniverse Avatar by Nvidia. Source
5G mobile data. A metaverse would not be able to function without a superfast mobile internet with low delays that is crucial for people to have access to a metaverse being anywhere and at any time. For example, the online game Second Life is a simulation of real life, which appeared even before smartphones became popular. For a long time, the game was successful. Still, it lost popularity, partly because it could not get a mobile version - mobile Internet at the time simply could not transmit the necessary amount of data.