Internet, Broadband, Mobile Computing… Big Change Takes Time and Metaverse Will Be No Different
“Most successful jobs don’t require retraining 250 million people.”
Wired magazine published this line in 1995 citing the Internet.
You can apply the same thinking to the metaverse. There is a lot of skepticism about this digital ecosystem in the market, and many critics have dismissed the innovation as nothing more than hype or enhanced virtual reality. However, the skeptics are wrong. They often start with a flawed premise – the metaverse is being built from scratch.
5G and more
This task – to create a large virtual world network that anyone can access – is particularly difficult given that the necessary hardware (VR and Augmented Reality) and required connectivity (ideally 5G and beyond) may not be readily available.
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But this task can be done. Skeptics are not viewing the metaverse in its proper context. Metaverse differs from the Internet in key ways: it is spatial, experiential, and highly interactive. Just as shopping online is different from shopping in real life, the metaverse is different from the internet.
Think of the metaverse—or collection of smaller metaverses—as an extension of the Internet, rather than a separate entity. The phone evolved from landlines to car phones, to bulky cell phones to flip phones, and eventually to the small but powerful computers in our hands. This evolution took decades. This required breakthrough design and engineering, powerful new microprocessors and operating software. And then there was the issue of consumer adoption. The evolution of the metaverse will be no different.
In the early 90s, my college launched peer rooms on our campus intranet. Soon, companies such as AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve created subscription access to the World Wide Web. Most of us didn’t see these events as steps into the nearly infinite, decentralized network that most of society operates on.
The Metaverse similarly permeates our daily lives. Most people are aware of it, or at least we think so: One survey found that 38% of respondents said they were familiar with the Metaverse, but only 16% could correctly define the term. In other words, we know that some kind of revolution is knocking on our door. We’re just not sure what that revolution is or looks like.
But there are ways we can see it if we know where to look.
Nike has launched a brand activation with NIKELAND through Roblox. According to the company, this digital world allows customers to try on a variety of Nike products, as well as play games like tag, dodgeball and floor lava. The digital world even allows users to mirror real-life actions with the virtual world, “using accelerometers on their mobile devices to translate offline action into online play.”
Investment giant Fidelity has launched The Fidelity Stack at Decentraland, an eight-story digital building with a mission to convert Metaverse visitors into investors, according to Reuters. The interactive and gaming environment provides visitors with a unique and immersive financial education experience. Home improvement store Lowe’s allows visitors to download more than 500 product assets for free to help them visualize their home design and improvement ideas.
Even the unobserved can see clear signs of this evolution. Facebook has become Meta. Magic Leap has raised billions for its hardware. Apple has filed patents, but has yet to reveal a potentially game-changing roadmap. Alibaba, Google, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, Qualcomm, ByteDance are developing business use cases on Metaverse.
Last November, Microsoft announced the upcoming launch of its “Mesh” platform, which will allow its Microsoft Teams video conferencing platform to connect users via a 3D avatar. This will allow those who cannot or do not wish to join the meeting via video to still participate dynamically in the call. The thinking is that this will make interactions more personal, even in the digital world.
What’s not so obvious are the use cases — and the companies behind them — whose incremental steps add up to volume efficiency. These use cases push the boundaries of what is possible even now, after the metaverse or metaverses have fully formed.
Where do we go from here?
Undoubtedly, the Metaverse has real hurdles to overcome. Harassment and discrimination are just as effective in the virtual world as they are in the real world. Intel claims that we will need a thousand times increase in computing power.
There are, and will continue to be, numerous cultural, ethical, technological, and political challenges to the Metaverse. Perhaps Unilever’s Chief Digital and Commercial Officer Johnny Braams said it best: “As we begin to invest and create the next environment in which people spend their time and money, we need to be clear about what we’re building and what we need. prevent.”
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And naysayers will say that these challenges are proof of the imminent demise of the Metaverse. They will repeat the opening quote of this piece – there are too many people the Metaverse can’t reach. Slow adoption will be mistaken for stalled progress. We’ll see articles and talkers claiming that the Metaverse is dead. And of course, we may not see a single, decentralized Metaverse in the near future. But we’re already seeing companies expand their own little metaverses, or microverses, while decentralized applications become more widespread.
But neither Rome was built in a day nor the internet. In 1990, there were fewer than one Internet user per 100 consumers in the United States. By 2019, that number was around 100 to 90. It’s a remarkable change, but it also took decades to reach mainstream usage. The same will be true for the Metaverse.
We are already seeing clear examples of its adoption. And once that adoption happens, the use cases are endless. We will be able to interact authentically with our colleagues and family members, even if they are on the other side of the world.
We will be able to train police officers, doctors and first responders by placing them in the most realistic and challenging simulations – giving them a wealth of experience before their first day on the job. Users will be able to visit places on the other side of the world, giving them the opportunity to understand different cultures and broaden their perspectives.
Co-founded by Steven Fromkin Talespin.