The Metaverse: A universe within a universe?

A short investigation of the Metaverse, and what it can be

The term ‘metaverse’ is deceivingly simple.

The three-syllable word, first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash,’ has evolved to describe a futuristic realm of technology, a digital experience that is all-encompassing. 

The context, history, present, and predicted future of the metaverse is a rich field, bringing us all the way from Ancient Greek to Facebook, and from deep-dives into Sci-Fi to XR (extended reality). 

Here, we’ll take you through some of the more basic concepts of the metaverse, while also pointing out the landscape of possibilities it encompasses. 


What is the metaverse? (And where is the metaverse?)

‘Metaverse’ is a word composed of Greek parts. The word ‘meta’ itself means “among, with, after,” but in English it’s used to “describe a subject in a way that transcends its original limits, considering the subject itself as an object of reflection.” 

So, a metaverse may be understood through this lens: it’s a world contained within a world, a universe that has transcended its original limits.

In theory, it’s an endless, global, connected digital world, composed of a combination of shopping, work, social media, gaming, and many other possibilities that mirror how we currently live our physical lives. Being able to interact with people and items in a digital universe is less mind-blowing than it used to be, because many of the technologies already exist. 

In reality, the metaverse is happening all around us. There is not one shared definition, but you might begin to think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in three dimensions and intended to be experienced through augmented and virtual reality technologies. Instead of just looking at a screen, the metaverse is a virtual environment in which you can have lived experiences.

Recent Developments

In October of 2021, there was an uptick in recent interest around the metaverse because of Facebook’s rebrand to ‘Meta’ which was in direct reference to a pivot Mark Zuckerberg intended to make towards a wider scope of products and possibilities. Meta Platforms, known as Meta for short, still is a conglomeration of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but also includes more recent tech like Quest VR headsets and the Horizon VR platform. 

Experts are split about the definitions and the likely evolution of a truly immersive ‘metaverse.’ They expect augmented- and mixed-reality enhancements will become more useful in people’s daily lives in the next two decades, and include opportunities for entertainment and commerce in many directions.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are already proving to be exciting fields for many industries, from healthcare to shopping, so it’s not a leap to conclude that XR technology and the manifold uses for it will expand rapidly, in directions we can’t currently comprehend. 

Excitement—and concern?

If you’re concerned about security within the metaverse, you’re not alone. Companies including Meta/Facebook have certainly had their share of cybersecurity—and sociopolitical—issues. 

It’s important to carry our concerns with us as we collectively move forward into a XR/VR world, but there are manifold ways AI and AR based technologies can help communities solve problems and improve health and happiness. At the moment, there aren’t rules to what is considered to be “inside the metaverse,” whether the experience is virtual clothing or Fortnite-based concerts. 

The future is in fact ours to build.

The metaverse is on the brink of moving from theoretical to actualized, and companies looking to stay at the forefront of their industry would be wise to stay engaged. AI-driven and experiential solutions can drive customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and help organizations plan for a Gen-Z inspired future. 

Want to learn more about the Metaverse? Contact Cloutel today. 

September 26, 2022
8:15 am
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