In recent weeks we have seen a bombardment of news about the so-called “metaverse,” and Mark Zuckerberg’s pursuit of this digital universe has made it gain even more popularity. His interest is such that he has announced that he plans to turn Facebook from a social network into a metaverse company in just five years. But he is not the only one, like Nvidia, Sony, and Microsoft are other major technology companies that are betting on this new universe.
According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence, this digital environment has such excellent economic prospects that it is expected to reach 800 billion by the middle of this decade, and by 2030 that figure is expected to multiply to 2.5 trillion. Looking at these numbers, it is clear why the big technology companies see the metaverse as the future of the Internet.
We explain this concept in more depth and how companies will use the metaverse to improve their business. Pay attention!
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is defined as the convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space.
This environment allows humans to interact socially and economically as avatars in a cyberspace, which acts as a kind of metaphor for the real world, breaking down its physical or economic barriers. This is why many see the metaverse as the future of the Internet.
Origin of the metaverse
Although it may seem a novel and very recent term, it was coined in 1992 in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel, “Snow Crash.” The story presents this concept as an alternative to a physical world that had become a nightmare and whose way of escape was a virtual world.
In fact, only a year later, in 1993, The Metaverse, Steve Jackson Games’ company, presented MOO, a virtual reality system in which several users could be connected at the same time. However, the expected success did not come, as Internet access was not as widespread, and there were no investors interested in taking that risk. Subsequently, more companies (OZ Virtual, Linden Lab, Somnium Space…) joined in with similar initiatives, but they have not been successful.
Characteristics of the metaverses
Since it is a virtual world, the characteristics of metaverses can be extensive, but the following are the most important ones:
- Interactivity: users must be able to communicate and interact with other users and metaverses.
- Interoperability: avatars and goods must be able to be created and used in any of the metaverses accessed.
- Corporeality: although it is a virtual world, it must not be forgotten that it is subject to the laws of physics and has limited resources.
- Full-fledged economy: in line with interoperability, the goods can be used in any environment, regardless of who manages them.
What can you do in the metaverse?
Although it may seem like a world of science fiction, in the metaverse, it will be possible to carry out activities as varied as attending virtual concerts, traveling, shopping, going to the movies, trying on clothes, etc.
But it may also change the way we work, where video calls will leave the 2D of a screen for a virtual call-in format.
On the other hand, it is conceived as a large-scale industrial workspace, where all kinds of machines and systems can be tested through digital twins. This facilitates the detection of possible failures and improvements before carrying them out in a physical environment.
What is a metaverse company?
A fundamental aspect of the metaverse is interoperability, which will allow it not to be a platform dominated by a few companies but will be the sum of interconnected spaces where we can move freely from one to another. In addition, it contains a full-fledged economy and encompasses the physical and virtual worlds, which will mean what we can call “embedded internet”, it will be decentralized.
The possibilities for a company range from covering social presence, office work or entertainment, payments, healthcare, consumer products, hourly work, etc.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done on the development side, such as solving the many problems that this virtual universe poses, as well as creating more comfortable and lighter VR devices, and breaking down the barriers that will be encountered for its mass implementation to become a reality. We are in a “proto-verse,” similar to the early years of the Internet, where there are several independent virtual worlds, but they are not connected to each other.
Examples of metaverses
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has become the standard-bearer of this virtual universe and is already working on his own metaverse and a name change for his social network, but he is not the only one. Many companies have already started a series of initiatives to promote this technology, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, PlayStation’s VR helmets, Facebook’s own Oculus, Epic Games’ video games, Alibaba’s Ali Metaverse, a new video game studio based on Tencet’s metaverse, and even the owner of TikTok has already declared his interest in this technology.
As we said above, many companies are striving to be the first to reach the goal of developing the best metaverse as soon as possible, and these are some examples:
Microsoft surprised in the last edition of Ignite presenting Mesh, its virtual reality bet designed to be used, mainly, in Teams, and that has the momentum of its HoloLens2. The technology giant itself defines it as an opportunity that “enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere, on any device, through mixed reality applications.
They also speak of avatars, even of “holoportation” in the work environment as a way to improve the fluidity of decision-making and the acceleration of problem-solving.
Ali Metaverse of Alibaba
The Chinese giant is the one at the earliest stage, but it has already applied for several metaverse-related trademarks and has declared its intention to run in this technology race. The first trademark would be Ali Metaverse, but Taobao and Dingding Metaverse are also joining. We just have to wait and see how it turns out.
Metaverse of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg is the one who, for the moment, is investing the most in this virtual universe. So much so that he has changed the name of his iconic social network Facebook to “Meta.” They declare that the metaverse is the next evolution of social connections and promise with Meta a 3D space where you can interact, learn, collaborate and play in many ways never before seen.
They are already developing new technologies to make this vision possible and have become the company that will invest the most in the metaverse. The amount invested in 2020 in R&D reached up to 18.5 billion dollars, and for this one, it will reach up to 30% of Facebook’s revenues. In addition, it will create more than 10,000 jobs in Europe to bring the project to fruition. We leave you with Zuckerberg himself to explain all the details.
Epic Games Metaverse
Another participant in creating its own metaverse is Sony, which has invested $1 billion to make it possible. Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite are in charge of developing it.
For years, this digital universe has been the dream of Tim Sweeney, the co-founder of the video game company, and with this injection of funds, it could be more feasible. However, unlike Zuckerberg’s idea of a monopoly, Sweeny wants the metaverse to be a completely open standard that could even replace the internet.
Zepeto, Zara’s Metaverse
Changing sectors, we find Zara, the textile giant that has chosen Zepeto as the metaverse to launch its first collection of virtual garments. It is a South Korean metaverse for cell phones, with 3D avatars and more than 2 million daily users, which has made it one of the fastest-growing virtual environments in the last year.
This metaverse allows the purchase of digital items through its own currency and provides interaction with millions of users around the world. The predominant audience is young women between 13 and 24 years old, who create avatars based on the real physical characteristics of the users.
The curious thing about this metaverse is that Zara has launched a collection that is also sold in selected stores in the real world and that in the virtual environment has the same prices as in physical stores. But it is not the only company joining the virtual fashion boom, as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Adidas, or Nike are already reinventing their lines in metaverses.
Technologies for metaverses
Although the metaverse is not yet something physically tangible, it is a revolutionary idea, and current technology brings it closer, giving it that economic value. Based on precedent, its implementation will be gradually added to the platforms little by little, as the Internet has done since its first version. It will be a revolution that will encompass all industries.
At Plain Concepts, we have already carried out projects that could be framed in the world of metaverses, such as the following ones:
One example is the one made for Telefónica Movistar with Evergine. It is a platform that allows viewing multimedia content in different media and devices, connecting other users who share the same experience, what we could call the television of the future.
We developed a space where users could access, have public and private rooms where there was a total synchronization of playback and communication by voice and expressions. In addition, users can create and customize avatars, connect with a panel with tweets filtered by content, integration with Facebook, and the figure of an administrator to guide visitors on the use of the platform.
We became the first Microsoft partner in Spain to develop customized solutions with HoloLens 2, applied to all types of sectors, such as industry, energy, construction, medicine, smart buildings, retail, etc.
Thanks to this agreement, we have been able to carry out innovative projects such as guided biopsies with augmented reality. We developed an application on HoloLens that allows us to graphically visualize a patient’s scanner, on which the doctor can decide where to take the sample in a biopsy process. The healthcare staff can evaluate and determine the most appropriate path to perform the procedure.
At Plain Concepts, we have a strong research team in charge of taking forward innovative projects day after day. Creating metaverses is a challenge that we have already joined. We will continue working to achieve the best quality and continue to present the most impressive virtual reality case studies.
Also, if you want to find out how this and other technology trends will shape 2022, don’t miss our article.