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What does the Metaverse mean?

What does the Metaverse mean?

On 2.2.22, the leading Swiss mobile technology provider, Adello, streamed live the 28th industry event on METAVERSE via LinkedIn and YouTube for the 180 registered industry professionals. The topic of the discussion was “Metaverse: Technological Gimmick or the Most Important Invention after Mobile?”

Thomas Hutter, CEO of Hutter Consult, was invited as a guest and a keynote speaker. In his presentation, Thomas disclosed from a critical point of view what challenges and opportunities could offer us the Metaverse in the near future.

What is Metaverse?

Thomas started his presentation by defining Metaverse in a quite extraordinary way: instead of Thomas, the virtual avatar has explained it:

“The Metaverse is a collective virtual space created by the convergence of virtual, augmented, and physical reality, physical persistence in virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds of augmented reality and the Internet.”

Thomas added that the Metaverse encompasses the digital world the same way as the physical one. At the same time, those worlds are interconnected, and the border between them is blurred. That is how the Metaverse allows us to enrich the physical world with new digital opportunities that wouldn’t be possible in reality.

Thomas shared that the concept of the Metaverse is not new. The notion of “Metaverse” was mentioned for the first time in the book “The Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, released in 1992. The actions in the book take place in a virtual reality, where people exist and interact with each other as their avatars.

Today some traits of the Metaverse can be presented in different online games where people play specific roles behind the virtual characters. Nevertheless, those games still cannot be considered the Metaverse. In fact, the Metaverse includes the interaction with the physical world, which most of the games don’t have yet.

The Metaverse obtained its popularity very quickly. That happened right after Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook’s main focus will be the Metaverse. This consequently created a range of different discussions and concerns if Meta (previously Facebook) will have a monopoly on the Metaverse.

Thomas Hutter ensures that there is no reason to suggest this. Different companies provide or will provide platforms for the Metaverse very soon. For example, Thomas pointed to Fortnight (a free-to-play battle royale game by Epic Games) and AltspaceVR (a social VR platform acquired by Microsoft), which plans to create a virtual working space.

However, according to Thomas, there is room for some concerns. For instance, Meta encompasses a significantly broad audience of 3 billion people by owning Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and others. Moreover, Meta owns a subsidiary company Oculus. Oculus will provide the suitable equipment to enter the Metaverse, including a headset and sensor glove. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Meta has enough resources to invest in Metaverse R&D.

To draw a line and eliminate the misconception of what the Metaverse actually is, Thomas shared the 7 core attributes of the Metaverse described by Matthew Ball.

  1. The Metaverse is always live. It cannot be interrupted or paused, unlike computer games.
  2. The Metaverse happens in real-time.
  3. The Metaverse is unlimited. That means there are no boundaries for the users, and everyone can access it.
  4. The Metaverse is an ecosystem. This includes payment methods as well. It is expected that users can make purchases inside the Metaverse by using cryptocurrency.
  5. The Metaverse cannot exist only in virtual or physical reality. It unites the virtual and physical world and allows the users to interact inside them.
  6. The Metaverse allows the interoperability of data. That means that the digital objects in the Metaverse are fungible. It can be owned and exchanged.
  7. The Metaverse is diverse. The content of the Metaverse must be various and have different sides. That means it creates opportunities for different user experiences.
Facebook metaverse

Potential of the Metaverse

Revealing the core attributes of the Metaverse, Thomas continued with the discussion on how the Metaverse can serve people.

Social connections are one of them. The Metaverse could broaden the horizons in human communication and interaction. Thanks to the Metaverse, the geographical and linguistic borders will be erased.

Another important usage will be entertainment. The Metaverse will facilitate virtual activities in meta-reality, for example, concerts, movies, exhibitions, cultural events, and others.

Gaming is another important aspect. Transferring games into the Metaverse will invent new gaming experiences.

Sport has an excellent potential to be transferred in the Metaverse. It will transform sports and fitness activities, enriching them with gamification.

Thomas also mentioned that shopping could be changed within the Metaverse. In the Metaverse, buyers can discover a new range of various experiences that have never been available before.

Speaking about education, the students will be able to obtain a professional experience thanks to the virtual training in the meta-reality.

Another aspect that can be changed with Metaverse is professional life. Metaverse will help in arranging the business meeting in the virtual space.

How will Metaverse work

Metaverse is constituted from the different components that in their entirety create an entire ecosystem. Here are the components of the Metaverse ecosystem:

  1. Centralized and decentralized gateways. A centralized Metaverse is represented as a single entity that operates the entire network. In such a system, user actions are restricted within the set of controlled parameters. In a decentralized Metaverse, in its turn, users are free and can control everything.
  2. Avatars - the virtual image of a user.
  3. Payment system that will be presented as cryptocurrency.
  4. User Interface and Immersion.
  5. Social - the ability to intercommunicate with other users.
  6. Play-to-earn/ Play-to-collect - the ability to earn points/currency by playing.
  7. AI - some part of the Metaverse will be operated and optimized by artificial intelligence.
  8. AdTech and Marketing. Those aspects will penetrate the meta-reality and create new opportunities for the advertisement.
  9. Visualization and digital twin - reconstructing and cloning the real-world objects and systems to the Metaverse.
  10. Decentralized Infrastructure - in order for the metaverse to survive, it needs to be decentralized. Decentralized networks are built on blockchain. This approach ensures that there is no monolithic control. In fact, for the metaverse to survive, it requires to be open-source, interoperable and controlled by the community, not by a few people.
  11. Creators.

Foundation for the Metaverse development

Thomas described factors that have been undertaken in the past which led to the appearance of the Metaverse. One of them is Internet speed, which has increased enormously in the last several years.

Another factor is technological change and especially mobile phones. Today smartphones have a wide range of functionality that nobody could imagine 20 years ago. Thomas compared such a quick improvement of mobile devices to the possible future development of the Metaverse. For instance, VR sets are currently not designed yet for Metaverse usage. But those devices may be improved in a very short period of time.

There are already concepts that could help perceive virtual reality in a more convenient way, such as Google Glass and Oculus. Moreover, such concepts might have great potential to replace smartphones and become the next device-number-one.

Another tool that contributed to the Metaverse development is the brain interface. A brain–computer interface (BCI) is a device designed to exchange information between the brain and computer. In unidirectional interfaces, external devices include signals from the brain that can receive signals from the brain. Thanks to this device, thoughts can be read and interpreted.  

Metaverse adaption for the businesses

According to Thomas Hutter, the Metaverse can be an innovation jump in the digital field. Thanks to the Metaverse, it would be possible to start creating new experiences in different sectors that could benefit business development.

Moreover, new business and sales models could be developed. The goods and services will be changed. The Metaverse offers tremendous opportunities to sell digital objects and contents (for instance, courses and workshops).

At the same time, advertisements will move to a completely new level. New marketing opportunities will transform the whole industry and provide marketing methods that wouldn’t be possible in reality. The changes in marketing will bring new approaches to content personalization.

Furthermore, the new workplaces will be created in Metaverse, and the working environment could be changed correspondingly.

Then Thomas explained the challenges on the path to the Metaverse adaptation. He drew the audience’s attention to the history of the Internet. It has already been 20 years since the appearance of Web 1.0, and people still haven’t used it to its full potential. There are still poorly designed websites and UX/UI, slow Internet. The same problem appears with web 2.0. Today we are stepping into the Web 3.0 era, which users and businesses just began adopting. The inescapable truth is that for a moment, the majority of users still don’t understand the main concepts of Web 3.0.

Metaverse will combine the techniques and know-how from the Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, VR, AR, and analog world. Moreover, it will include other aspects such as 3D, UI/UX, video, real-time, and many others. Furthermore, it will require resources such as labor, time, and money.

Thomas Hutter gave his recommendations on what businesses could do to pave the path of Metaverse adoption. In his opinion, business owners should learn the lessons from Web 1.0 adoption. Then it will be necessary to continue establishing and improving the knowledge of Web 2.0. Moreover, brands would have to observe how the future and Web 3.0 will develop. To adopt the Metaverse, businesses would have to analyze and decide in what direction of the Metaverse should they move. Once the direction is established, they would have to constitute the strategy of their further actions.

It is essential to start now and work from a long-term perspective. According to Thomas, the Metaverse will probably not develop as fast as expected. It will require years before the meta-world will firmly integrate into our daily life. Nevertheless, the first steps towards the Metaverse development have already been made, and those companies that become Metaverse pioneers will have great potential in the future.

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