Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, one among the current sensational techs is hitting a new feat as ‘Metaverse’, which had an enough surf in the internet, since Facebook changed its brand-name to ‘Meta’ on October 28, 2021. Though, the content seems to be contemporary, with Fortnite and Roblox too hyping up the technology for some time now, the term is actually decades old.
So, What Metaverse actually is?
Metaverse is a combination of multiple elements of technology, including vitally virtual reality & augmented reality, where users portray themselves as an online-avatar living within a digital virtual universe. It’s like wearing a VR headset and diving into a world of fantasy, where you meet and interact with people in a virtual world. The concept is now contrived into areas of work, exercising, shopping, entertainment and so on.
Etymologically, the prefix ‘meta’ means ‘behind or beyond’, or ‘more comprehensive’ and even ‘transformative’ and the suffix ‘verse’ gets it from ‘universe’, depicting a specific area. Conjointly, Metaverse refers nothing but a world that lies beyond, on top of, or is an extension of the physical world.
Though, Facebook sees it in upcoming years, companies have already had a sip of the technologies, Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox, to name few. In fact, the idea is conceptualized in 1992, where an author Neal Stephenson coined the term in his dystopian sci-fi novel Snow Crash. In the book, virtual and augmented realities are pooled in, and people walk as avatars along a long street. Public terminal users are rendered as blurry black and white avatars while those who pay for private terminals are rendered in full color and detail. Since then, the word “metaverse” got its life and points all kind of instances involving permanent virtual experiences.
CEO of the newly branded Meta (formerly Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg has earlier on made significant investments in virtual reality, including the release of Oculus Quest VR headsets, after its acquisition of Oculus. Meta envisions a virtual world where digital avatars connect through work, travel or entertainment using VR headsets. Zuckerberg estimates a period of five to ten years before the key features of the metaverse become mainstream. But aspects of the metaverse currently exist.
Zuck is bullish on the metaverse, perceiving that it could change how we exploit the internet.
“The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse,” said Meta CEO last month after revealing the company’s rebranding.
Microsoft’s Virtual Metaverse
The software giant already uses holograms and is developing mixed and extended reality (XR) applications with its Microsoft Mesh platform, which combine the real world with augmented reality and virtual reality. Earlier this month, Microsoft showed off its plans for bringing mixed-reality including holograms and virtual avatars to Microsoft Teams in 2022. Also in the works for next year: explorable 3D virtual connected spaces for retail and workplaces. The U.S. Army is currently working with Microsoft on an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset for soldiers to train, rehearse and fight in. Beyond that, Xbox Live already connects millions of video game players across the globe, too.
Tech Giants are fighting over who will build and control the metaverse, meanwhile Epic Games, the firm behind Fortnite, has immersed the online-gamers into its virtual world. With more than 350 million registered players, Fortnite which was released in 2017, is a survival game embracing massive in-game experiences like a rocket launch that blew up the virtual sky, the black hole that sucked the entire game into a void – simply putting you in occurrences which have the least probability to occur in this physical world.
Another virtual universe beloved by kids, the Microsoft-owned Minecraft is essentially the digital equivalent of Legos, where players can create their own digital character and build whatever they desire. As of August, Minecraft boasts more than 140 million monthly active users. During the pandemic, it has exploded in popularity among kids who had to rely more heavily on virtual connections.
Is Metaverse – an escape or a cage?
Metaverse, that seems to be a fantasy digital world that astonishes people to experience different world of how they want to be, could or had been considered as an escape to the real physical world of chaos. A blogger tells of the gaming experience of Fortnite as, “Over the last 18 months as we drifted in and out of lockdowns, Fortnite was the one game that made me feel connected to friends and family. After a long day of being on video calls, it was a great escape where we could meet up, hang out, and chat — while picking off other players along the way.”
If that’s the case, and every individual getting adhered to this fantasy but void world, may ingrain into a situation of unacceptance of this reality. Probably, the instance could worse requiring for psychological therapy to get back to this reality, which is saddening, I agree.
As suggestion in Tamil goes like, “அளவுக்கு மீறினால் அமிர்தமும் நஞ்சு”, which translates in english as, “Too much of anything is good for nothing”.