The Internet, broadband, mobile computing… Radical change takes time, and the metaverse will be no different
“Most things that are successful don’t require 250 million people to be retrained.”
Wired the magazine ran this line in 1995, in reference to the Internet.
You could apply the same thinking to the metaverse. There is a lot of skepticism about this digital ecosystem in the market and many critics have dismissed the innovation as little more than advertising or adapted virtual reality, which never took off. Yet the skeptics are wrong. They often start with an incorrect premise: that the metaverse is being built from scratch.
5G and beyond
That task – to create a huge virtual network of worlds that anyone can access – is daunting, especially considering that the necessary hardware (VR and Augmented Reality) and the required connectivity (ideally 5G and beyond) may not be ready.
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Yet this task is doable. Skeptics don’t consider the metaverse in the proper context. The metaverse differs from the internet in key ways: it is spatial, experiential, and highly interactive. The metaverse is as different from the Internet as online shopping is from real-life shopping.
Think of the metaverse – or a collection of smaller metaverses – as a continuation of the internet, not a separate entity. The telephone has evolved from landline phones to car phones to bulky cell phones to flip phones and finally to the small but powerful computers in our hands. This evolution has taken decades. It required revolutionary design and engineering, powerful new microprocessors and operating software. And then there was the little problem of consumer adoption. The evolution of the metaverse will be no different.
In the early 1990s, my college launched peer-to-peer rooms on our campus intranet. Shortly thereafter, companies like AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve produced subscription access to the World Wide Web. Most of us didn’t recognize those events as stepping stones to today’s nearly infinite, decentralized network on which most work. part of the company.
Likewise, the Metaverse is creeping into our daily lives. Many are aware of it, or at least think we are: A survey to found that 38% of respondents say they are familiar with the Metaverse, yet only 16% can correctly define the term. In other words, we know that some kind of revolution is knocking on our door. We’re just not sure what that revolution is or looks like.
But there are ways we can already see it if we know where to look.
Nike has launched a brand activation with its NIKELAND through Roblox. This digital world allows customers to try on different Nike products, but also play games like tag, dodgeball and the floor is lava, according to the company. The digital world even allows users to mirror real-life movements with the virtual world, leveraging “the accelerometers in their mobile devices to transfer offline movements to online play.”
Investment giant Fidelity, meanwhile, has launched The Fidelity Stack in Decentraland, an eight-story digital building with a mission to turn Metaverse visitors into investors, according to Reuters. The interactive and playful environment offers visitors a unique and engaging financial education experience. Lowe’s home improvement store leaves Visitors download more than 500 free product resources to help imagine their home layout and improvement ideas.
Even those who don’t pay much attention can see clear signs of this evolution. Facebook has become Meta. Magic Leap has raised billions for its hardware. Apple has filed for patents but has yet to reveal its potentially game-changing roadmap. Alibaba, Google, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, Qualcomm, ByteDance are building enterprise use cases in the Metaverse.
Last November, Microsoft announced the upcoming launch of its “Mesh” platform, where video conferencing platform Microsoft Teams will allow users to join via a 3D avatar. This will allow those who can’t or don’t want to join a meeting via video to still have a dynamic presence during a call. The idea is that this will make interactions more personal even in a digital world.
What’s not so obvious are the use cases – and the companies behind them – whose incremental steps add up to massive effectiveness. These use cases push the boundaries of what is possible even now, let alone once the metaverse or metaverses fully take shape.
Where do we go from here?
There are real hurdles for the Metaverse to overcome, no doubt. Harassment and discrimination have the same impact in a virtual world as they do in the real world. intel affirmations we will need a thousand-fold increase in computing power.
There are and will continue to be numerous cultural, ethical, technological, and political challenges to the Metaverse. Maybe Unilever Chief Digital & Commercial Officer Conny Braam to put it better: “As we begin to create and invest in the next environment where people spend their time and money, we must be clear about what we are building and what we must prevent.”
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And naysayers will say that these challenges are evidence of the impending end of the Metaverse. They’ll echo the opening quote of this piece: There are simply too many people for the Metaverse to reach. Slow adoption will be traded for stalled progress. We’ll see the articles and talking heads claiming the Metaverse is dead. And granted, we may not see a single decentralized Metaverse in the foreseeable future. But we’re already seeing companies expand their metaverses or smaller microverses, while decentralized apps also become more prevalent.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the Internet. In 1990, there was less than one Internet user for every 100 consumers in the United States. By 2019, that number was nearly 90 out of 100. That’s a remarkable change, but it also took decades to reach that level of mainstream usage. The same will be true for the Metaverse.
We are already seeing tangible examples of its adoption. And once that adoption happens, the use cases are limitless. We will be able to authentically interact with our colleagues and family, even when they are on the other side of the globe.
We will be able to train police officers, doctors and first responders by placing them in the most realistic and challenging simulations, providing them with extensive experience before their first day on the job. Users will be able to visit places on the other side of the world, enabling them to understand different cultures and broaden their perspective.
Stephen Fromkin is the co-founder of Talespin.