The New Wave of Web 3.0 Metaverse Innovations
The metaverse is set to fundamentally change the way we interact with the digital world.
Over the last few months, big tech has been extremely vocal about the possibilities presented by the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg has been talking at length about repositioning Facebook to create an immersive world where social interaction, commerce and the internet all meet. He described his vision as "an embodied internet that you're inside of rather than just looking at."
Facebook isn't alone in trying to seize the initiative in the coming metaverse explosion. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke of an "enterprise metaverse" during last week's earnings call.
It's not just Facebook and Microsoft who are alert to the possibilities that the metaverse represents. Almost every Silicon Valley investment firm, founder and tech influencer has been hyping the metaverse recently. And this makes sense as there's a growing feeling that this is the next big space for digital growth. And crucially, a space free from centralized control or pre-existing audience ownership.
Mark Cuban recently recognized the importance of blockchain for the creation of the metaverse world. He launched his NFT venture, Lazy.com, a digital art gallery designed to showcase NFTs as traditional art galleries work, with the support of Polygon Studios, a new NFT-centric gaming and metaverse hub designed to facilitate web 3.0 gaming. The latter is backed by a $100 million fund to accelerate mainstream adoption of metaverse projects.
The term "metaverse" was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his book Snow Crash. He described a popular virtual world experienced in the first person by users equipped with augmented reality technology. This idea was taken a step further in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. He defined it as a fully realized digital world that exists beyond the analog one in which we live.
While this futuristic vision may seem far-fetched, the reality which is beginning to take shape is just as exciting. Hailed as the next iteration of the internet, the metaverse sits at the intersection of the web, augmented reality and the blockchain. Until recently, you could only experience the internet when you go to it through a browser or app. The metaverse, with its wide range of connectivity types, devices and technologies will allow us to experience the internet on a huge variety of devices — from commonplace screens and cell phones to VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Ultimately, the metaverse will allow us to play games, shop, trade, chat, work or even attend concerts. All within a virtual world.
It's this bridging of offline and digital worlds which is most exciting. The closed loop systems, sandboxes, and ownership of audiences that typifies the current status quo are set to be disrupted by this new type of experience. Imagine being able to meet friends, invest, host a client meeting, watch a movie or learn a new skill — all in one place. This is what's coming down the line with the metaverse, and it's a huge opportunity for both new and existing tech players.
There are some innovative new players coming into the ecosystem every day. (Think Blockcities or Decentraland.) Some are gaming related, and some are bringing the offline world online to a global audience — creating new ways of shopping or meeting new people. Others are transforming the way we invest in our future. What links them all is that they are turning legacy thinking on its head and building totally new models with the future in mind.
Covid-19 forced a number of changes on us as a society. One of the biggest changes was to force social activities, the world of work and almost everything else online. This trend of enabling people to connect in the way they want, where they want, and when they want is here to stay.
The pandemic showed the world how feasible it is to operate remotely. Many industries have expanded their work at home capacity, at least for the types of jobs where this makes sense. Then there are the individuals who remain vulnerable for a variety of reasons and struggle to reintegrate as quickly as others. They too will see the benefit of better systems for working off-site.
"When you combine these needs with the growing possibilities afforded by the metaverse, it's clear to see this stands to be huge in the coming years," explains Shrey Singh, head of the gaming and NFT ecosystem at Polygon. "Web 3.0 offers even more functionality and interoperability than any of the preexisting services, so the possibilities for remote work, teleconferencing, telemedicine, remote socializing and so much more become profoundly enhanced. I would say it is reasonable that the metaverse will become a significant part of the regular individual's life in the coming decade and beyond."
The metaverse is being built around activities you'll enjoy with your friends and coworkers, and a whole host of entrepreneurs are already seizing opportunities to place their business front and center in this new digital ecosystem. As we've seen, Facebook is already planning to pivot into the metaverse by combining its myriad products into virtual communities, where users can communicate, work, shop and play in one space. All monetized by their commercial products.
The pace of change within the metaverse is accelerating with each passing week, and it is only likely to become a bigger part of our lives over the coming years.
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