Every individual is familiar with Facebook. However, it has undergone a name change and is now referred to as Meta, specifically the Facebook Metaverse. Meta intends to allocate $10 billion for research and development in its metaverse project. Undoubtedly, the Metaverse has emerged as one of the most hot topics in 2023. This phenomenon has ignited a global surge in the stock market with respect to the metaverse concept, resulting in soaring stock prices for related companies, some of which have witnessed a threefold increase in market value within a mere two months. While capital is fervently embracing the metaverse, many individuals may still be grappling with the precise meaning of this concept. Therefore, what exactly does the metaverse entail? Are you interested in capitalizing on this trend and investing in it? Let’s delve into this topic in a discussion with TechSparks, a technology-oriented blog.
What is the Metaverse?
The Origin of the Metaverse Concept
The term “metaverse” originated from scientific discourse and has been adopted by scholars to describe the possibility of multiple universes. To provide conceptual clarity for distinguishing these distinct universes, different names have been assigned to them. For instance, our own universe is referred to as the “original universe,” while the term “metaverse” is used to denote a universe that shares a certain connection with the original universe, allowing for mutual influence.
In 1992, renowned science fiction author Neil Stephenson introduced the concept of a virtual city in his novel “Snow Crash.” Within this city, individuals could immerse themselves by wearing virtual reality (VR) glasses, purchase virtual land, construct dwellings, and lead alternative lives. Stephenson dubbed this city the “Metaverse.” Despite its seemingly enigmatic nature, the term “Metaverse” carries a rather straightforward connotation.
The Connotation of the Metaverse
The essence of the Metaverse revolves around the concept of a digital virtual world, a realm with which we are all quite acquainted. Numerous video games already exist as virtual worlds, and science fiction films often explore themes related to this concept. Within these virtual worlds, players can control game characters to navigate the streets of Los Santos, soar through the continents of Ezera, and behold a plethora of stunning artificial landscapes. Interaction with non-player characters (NPCs) and fellow gamers is also possible. The familiarity with digital virtual worlds has been established over time, with science fiction creators exhaustively tapping into their imaginations to depict these realms. Early works like “The Matrix” series, as well as recent films such as “Ready Player One” and “Free Guy,” all delve into the realm of virtual worlds. Given that the concept of a virtual world is not entirely new, what sparked the sudden surge of interest when it was rebranded as the Metaverse?
Reasons why Metaverse Concept is Hot
There are two primary reasons behind the rebranding of virtual worlds as the Metaverse, which has garnered significant attention.
Firstly, the use of unfamiliar terminology can lend an air of sophistication and exclusivity, making it easier to captivate people’s interest. This tactic is not uncommon, as seen with the rebranding of peer-to-peer lending as P2P and yeast in as a substitute term for enzymes in capital management. Renaming something offers a fresh start and is a conventional strategy employed for various purposes.
Secondly, the metaverse, as perceived by the realm of capital, is envisioned to be more advanced and intricate than the virtual worlds we currently engage with. It extends beyond mere gaming and encompasses a multitude of immersive experiences. Employing a new name distinguishes this concept from its predecessors. Specifically, the metaverse aims to provide a heightened level of immersion, allowing individuals to experience the digital virtual world through all their senses, in contrast to the present-day model of passively observing it on a computer screen.
Metaverse vs. Virtual Worlds
In comparison to virtual world games, the Metaverse encompasses a significantly larger volume of data, representing its most fundamental distinction.
In digital virtual games, while cities and maps may appear expansive, upon closer inspection, they are ultimately limited and composed of textures. One will often encounter locked doors and inaccessible areas within these game worlds. Conversely, in the Metaverse, every corner is imbued with interactive and potentially deceptive details. The key disparity between the metaverse and existing virtual worlds lies in its unparalleled openness. The maps within the games we currently play, regardless of their size, eventually reach boundaries and encounter limitations. Moreover, communication between different games, including map and player data, is challenging, and even inter-server communication within a single game poses difficulties.
Conversely, the metaverse functions as an open platform, hosting countless interconnected virtual worlds. These worlds seamlessly converge, enabling individuals to effortlessly switch identities and share currency and virtual assets. Even if a specific virtual world within the metaverse disappears due to an operator’s bankruptcy, individuals can transfer their data and assets to another world. Although this abstract concept may be challenging to grasp, let us envision life in the future metaverse.
Imagine waking up to your alarm clock at 8:59 in the morning, stepping out of bed, and donning your VR headset to enter the “Working City.” Instantaneously, you find yourself immersed in a virtual workspace, surrounded by virtual colleagues, while the physical individuals remain in the comfort of their homes. After finishing work in the evening, you join a few colleagues for a stroll-and-go excursion. With a simple click, you teleport from the “working city” to the virtual Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, standing atop Mount Everest, gazing upon the majestic expanse of snow-covered mountains. When you tire of the view, you teleport to the beaches of Sanya, reveling in the beauty of the blue sea. As you appreciate the scenery, a message arrives notifying you that you are now the boss of Sin City. With another teleportation, you transition from the beach to the stronghold of your gang, ready to eliminate the opposing forces with your fully armed comrades.
The aforementioned scenarios represent a few of the metaverse worlds conjured in this imaginary depiction. In reality, the metaverse offers a wide array of functions and gameplay possibilities that exceed these examples. Human imagination knows no bounds, and the metaverse itself is infinite. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that these scenarios remain beautiful fantasies, and there is still a considerable journey ahead before they can transition from mere imagination to tangible reality.
Challenges Facing Metaverse Technology
The realization and immersion in the metaverse world currently require the utilization of various devices such as VR glasses, AR glasses, somatosensory simulators, and potentially even brain-computer interfaces for direct sensory transmission. However, it is important to note that these devices are still in the stage of exploration and improvement, and they are far from meeting the requirements for a fully realized metaverse experience.
Taking VR glasses as an example, the current state of technology indicates that these devices are challenging to use and often come with a significant price tag. They can cost thousands of dollars, frequently experience freezing and display errors, and occasionally fail to accurately capture motion. Prolonged usage of these bulky glasses can also lead to discomfort and neck pain. Given these challenges, it is clear that the current state of VR glasses alone falls short of fulfilling the necessary criteria for realizing the metaverse concept. It is worth considering that AR glasses and somatosensory simulators face similar limitations and are still far from achieving widespread commercial viability.
Therefore, it is evident that there are significant technological hurdles and commercialization challenges that must be overcome before the metaverse can become a tangible reality. While progress is being made in the development of these devices, it is essential to recognize that there is still considerable work to be done before the metaverse can be fully realized in our lifetimes.
In reality, the construction of the virtual world within the Metaverse is far more complex than one might imagine. Presently, game companies require several years to create a virtual city with only surface-level aesthetics. If one were to add intricate details to every aspect of the virtual world, the workload would exponentially increase. Furthermore, the Metaverse generates an enormous amount of data, necessitating enhanced storage and data processing capabilities. The progress of major chip manufacturers, akin to squeezing toothpaste, takes time to keep up with the growing demands of the Metaverse. Additionally, the Metaverse relies on a faster and more stable network infrastructure. Considering that even 5G has yet to be universally adopted, achieving the necessary speed and stability for the Metaverse remains a significant challenge.
In addition to the technical and hardware challenges, the development of the metaverse also raises profound ethical and legal considerations. The current gaming landscape is primarily governed by operators who establish and enforce the rules within their respective games. However, with the emergence of the metaverse, questions arise regarding the formulation of rules and governance in this vast virtual realm. Furthermore, as individuals increasingly invest their time and energy into the metaverse, it raises the question of who is responsible for building and maintaining the physical world. Additionally, ensuring the protection of individuals’ property rights within the metaverse presents a complex legal challenge that must be addressed. These ethical and legal aspects necessitate careful consideration and robust frameworks to safeguard the interests and rights of participants within the metaverse.
In conclusion, the concept of the metaverse remains a nebulous vision in its current stage. Internet technology companies are eager to lead the way in this forthcoming era and, consequently, allocate substantial resources toward investing in related companies and researching relevant technologies. This behavior can be likened to the actions of past colonizers who staked claim to the New World without considering its practicality. However, the current hype surrounding the metaverse has enticed ordinary individuals to invest in funds and stocks associated with it. This analogy is akin to discussing which Olympic event to participate in immediately after learning to walk or engaging in pre-selling lunar real estate projects right after building a rocket. While the metaverse vision may be virtual, the money invested is undeniably real.