What is the Metaverse?

By Fay Capstick

The metaverse is very popular at the moment. There are frequent news stories about how the metaverse will change everything. But what exactly is the metaverse? And how will it change things? And what opportunities might it bring? This week we will look at what the metaverse is and how it might impact your life.

What is it?

In reality, no one knows what the metaverse will be like exactly. The metaverse will be made, just like the internet was made, and it will evolve too. It doesn’t mean a specific technology, but rather how we interact with technology. Whether the term metaverse will even stick remains to be seen.

As would be expected, many big tech companies are moving to get in on the metaverse in order to get an early advantage. Of course being early doesn’t always work - Myspace, anyone?

Overall, the metaverse refers to a more immersive internet experience, one that will use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) - something similar to the book and film Ready Player One. The virtual worlds the metaverse would contain would also be accessible through PCs and tablets, so it won’t be exclusive to VR and AR.

Big tech companies wouldn’t be interested if there wasn’t a commercial opportunity. The metaverse will contain the option to buy and trade virtual goods and spaces. But it still isn’t clear what it could become, as it isn’t quite real yet (although some massive multi-player games such as Fortnite contain many elements of the metaverse). JP Morgan have stated that they see huge investment opportunities in the metaverse (https://bit.ly/3HbSpHl).

Microsoft are working towards a part of the metaverse that would be business and employment orientated, whereas Facebook (or Meta as it has been rebranded) is looking at the more leisure related opportunities. Disney have just announced that they have appointed a leader for their metaverse strategy (https://bit.ly/36ylX5h).

However some things will need to evolve or change before it takes off in a big way. VR headsets are bulky and uncomfortable to wear for long. AR glasses are bulky and also uncomfortable. Intelligent contact lenses would be a way to make AR a real possibility. Holograms have also been mooted, but again the technology isn’t quite there yet.

How will it impact me?

For a while it probably won’t impact you at all. The promotional futuristic pitches that companies like Meta have produced for the metaverse are just that at the moment, futuristic. The technology they show doesn’t exist yet.

We can say that these promo videos give us a good idea of how the big the companies would like the future to evolve, and this is therefore probably where things are going. The extent that you choose to interact with the metaverse will be up to you, much like the internet. And how you interact with the metaverse will influence the direction and form that the metaverse will take.

Employment opportunities

The big tech companies are putting lots of funding and effort into their future metaverse offerings. This brings with it extra employment opportunities in the industry we supply, Digital and IT Recruitment and Resourcing.

Final thoughts

The metaverse is likely to change how we interact with the virtual world, but as yet we cannot say exactly what it will look like in much the same way that the internet of 1990 is nothing like the internet of today. Companies are investing heavily in the opportunities this can bring them, which will bring IT job opportunities. It will be fascinating to see how the metaverse evolves.

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