What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a digital environment with which we can interact thanks to special devices (eg: VR or AR glasses). It is made up of a network of independent and interconnected virtual universes through the Internet.
The aim of this new technology is to emulate physical sensations in the most realistic and immersive way possible. User access to this virtual world is done through avatars: digital alter egos called to interact in that digital environment.
Current Context: History of Technology
The truth is that, although lately the metaverse is on everyone’s lips, it is not easy to clearly specify its origins. What we do know is that this technology takes its name from the novel Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson, 1992). Did you know that this visionary science fiction story introduces us to avatars and the virtual universe for the first time?
Although we could already see timid attempts to create an alternate reality in Second Life or Habbo Hotel , its true technological breakthrough materialized in October 2021. It was then that Mark Zuckerberg bet heavily on this technology when he decided to rename Facebook Meta. Almost immediately, other corporate giants (such as Microsoft, Google, Disney or Amazon) decided to join this new technological revolution.
Of course, this digital universe has been preceded by numerous technological advances that have made it possible (VR, AR, 5G, etc.). Such is the case of Google’s Oculus Rift (2012) and Decentraland (2015). Another of the main milestones in the sector would be the virtual concert of Travis Scott (2019).
Technological Winter: State and Current Context of Technology
After the announcement of what seemed to be a technological inflection point, it seems that things are going to slow down. In fact, many claim that the metaverse dream has entered a dormant phase. Without a doubt, the hype unleashed by AI is behind it.
When the OpenAI GPT Chat came into our lives at the end of 2022, the media focus turned on it… and forgot about the incipient virtual world advocated by Zuckerberg. As a result, Meta has lost more than $13 billion in its Reality Labs division.
You don’t have to be a brainy economist to know that where there are economic losses, there are layoffs. Thus, the companies that had joined Zuckerberg’s dream (and himself) began to dismantle thousands of jobs. Among the most famous cases we have Meta (11,000), Microsoft (10,000) and Disney (50).
Clearly the metaverse is in a technological winter. However, the fact that this is not its moment does not mean that we are talking about a technology without a future. Rather, it is an innovation that is still in the development phase.
In the opinion of technological experts, when the virtual universe reaches its optimal point of maturity, we will be in a position to take advantage of its full potential. Consequently, once the initial stage in which it is found is overcome, it will end up coming into our lives.
Metaverse Usage Examples
- Test the operation of machines and systems before their final manufacture.
- Virtual meetings (leisure, work, studies, etc.) that would improve the experience of current video calls.
- Sale of goods and services: from the real estate market to medicine can benefit from virtual universes.
- Video games that, like The Sandbox , provide levels of realism and immersion that until now we could only dream of.