METAVERSE (OR WHATEVER WE SHALL NAME IT): VIRTUAL YET STRIKINGLY REAL
The term ‘Metaverse’ can be considered as a concept with varying interpretations and definitions, lacking clarity. Furthermore, we might even abstain from using this term in the years to come, but for today, I continue to use it as it remains the most prevalent phrase. I’ve attempted to summarize my readings, observations, and the questions I’ve received about this concept we’ve been circling around for the past couple of years. These notes represent the initial questions and answers solely related to the notion we’ve encountered. I call them ‘Notes to the Future’.
- The Metaverse, which stands out with events organized for company employees who come together for gaming platforms, PR activities, and collaborations, is actually what?
The idea of the Metaverse, first introduced in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash,’ describes a different kind of digital reality. Since then, people have been really interested in this idea, especially when Facebook changed its name to ‘Meta’ about two years ago. But during this time, the definition of the Metaverse has grown so much that it’s almost lost its clear meaning.
The Metaverse is a scalable and interactive network of real-time, virtual, three-dimensional worlds. Users can interact with other people, explore virtual spaces, play games, learn, and collaborate. In the Metaverse, users can move around with a sense of physical presence, manipulate objects, and engage with them. Additionally, there’s constant data exchange in areas like identity, history, goods, communication, and payments. Through digital avatars, users can personalize their experiences in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is a synchronized, three-dimensional real-time internet, offering users an interactive experience in digitally created worlds within a dynamic environment.
Alternatively, we can refer to it as the “digital twin of our lived reality.
- Is Virtual Reality headset necessary for the Metaverse?
For Metaverse experiences, virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, or similar devices can be preferred, but they are not mandatory. The Metaverse should be accessible on various platforms and devices, so experiencing the metaverse doesn’t require solely using virtual reality headsets. For instance, access to metaverse elements and experiences can also be achieved through computer games or mobile applications.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s crucial to remember that virtual worlds function most effectively when individuals are entirely engaged, mirroring a genuine human life experience.
Ideally, what’s desired is a platform that can support the same experience across all different devices, of course.
Some speculative predictions suggest that in the future, volumetric videos could enable simulation world experiences without the need for VR headset. The closest estimates indicate that in the near future, VR and AR headsets, mobile devices, and even computers are considered to be the most essential tools for accessing the metaverse.
These days, technology-leading companies are preparing to launch their new hardware, yet within the challenges of VR or XR reality headsets, two trends stand out beyond hardware development. Firstly, the ability to support an increasing number of users simultaneously in the same virtual environment. The other is the capability to capture data from the physical world. All of these will contribute to making simulated worlds increasingly resemble reality.
- Why are our experiences in the Metaverse visually lacking and poor? What can be done to improve this and avoid such issues?
Everything that happens in the Metaverse or virtual simulations can be likened to the definition in economics by Lionel Robbins: ‘
Economics is a science that studies human behaviour as a relationship between limited resources and unlimited wants which have alternative uses.’ When designing simulation worlds, limited resources must be considered, and decisions should be made on how these resources will be used. While it’s possible to create a realistic simulation or environment, displaying this simulation in real-time requires powerful devices, which limits access to a smaller number of people. To reach larger audiences, we may need to use our resources differently and let go of certain expectations.
For instance, when designing a store, should we focus on the realism of the environment or products, or should we prioritize the experience itself? Or should we invest effort in reaching a wider audience? We are in a process of seeking answers to these questions, and these decisions should be made collectively by companies and development firms, which are integral to the digital economy.
Considering that we are talking about an evolving technology, it’s essential to acknowledge that the technology and infrastructure may not meet all expectations at the highest level. Therefore, as we are continuously dealing with an emerging technology, we should evaluate the type of experience we want to offer and how much of it we can provide. In situations where we have limited computing power – like on a mid-range smartphone, for instance – we might encounter limitations such as the sense of reality and screen clarity. The resulting outcome depends on different questions and the answers given to them: How realistic of a reflection is required, how many people will be active simultaneously, which devices will be used, and how far apart will they be from each other, all need to be considered.
- Do we need the Metaverse? Why should we use it?
Why should I use the Metaverse? Isn’t this just a hype created by tech companies, or do we actually need these technologies?”
Before critiquing it as merely a push by technology firms or assuming we don’t need these technologies, it’s important to remember that technological development isn’t deterministic.
Regardless of how hard developers work to create a technology, the outcome is contingent upon the choices of the market that desires it. New tools pave the way for new behaviors, new use cases, and new technologies.
Put simply, we didn’t need the internet either. Therefore, we can foresee that the adoption of the Metaverse will likely happen without us even realizing it. Right now, when we use the internet, we often do so without being aware. For instance, when we want to cross a road, we press the traffic light button, and this action takes place over the internet. Similarly, when we make card payments at a store, we’re using the infrastructure of the internet. The use of the Metaverse will be similar – it will assist us in controlling the world around us, and we’ll use it without even noticing.
- How Close Are We to a Genuine Metaverse?
It’s difficult to provide a precise timeline for how far we are from a genuine Metaverse. The Metaverse is still a concept in the developmental stage, and its exact realization date remains uncertain. However, certain technological advancements and projects indicate steps are being taken towards its formation, although there’s still a long way to go.
According to some speculative predictions, advanced technologies such as displaying 3D images with volumetric videos or incorporating features like brain-computer interfaces for computer control through thoughts could potentially be part of the Metaverse. However, these ideas are still at the level of speculation and haven’t progressed beyond that.
Currently, small-scale Metaverse-like experiences can be had with certain virtual reality and augmented reality encounters. However, achieving a truly impressive, expansive, and fully integrated Metaverse requires further development and progress.
Just as predicting the exact date of its invention is challenging, forecasting the development of the Metaverse is equally daunting. For it to reach the level we envision, more than 30 technologies such as online identities and social networks, IoT sensor networks, realistic networks, lifelike avatars, accurate physical simulations, real-time environment scanning, practical XR optics need to evolve and stabilize. Additionally, factors like fast and reliable internet connections, data sharing, security measures, and AI-enhanced user experiences are crucial. The market, demands, and usage patterns will determine the sequence and priorities of these developments.
- One Single Metaverse? Or will there be multiple Metaverses?
The question of whether there will be an additional metaverse or multiple metaverses is a debated topic with differing opinions. Some believe a single universal metaverse will emerge, while others foresee the emergence of multiple parallel metaverses.
The scenario of a single metaverse is based on today’s experience of the ‘single internet.’ There will be one metaverse, and it will encompass the applications and platforms that constitute it. Similarly, just as there are many different platforms and websites today, in the metaverse, companies and organizations will create unique virtual worlds for their brands, and the sum of these will form a single metaverse.
In the scenario of multiple metaverses, separate digital realms can emerge, created by different companies, platforms, or technologies. Each metaverse could have its own rules, content, and communities. For instance, a game could have its own metaverse, or there could be independent metaverses created by major technology companies.
In the scenario of multiple metaverses, issues of interoperability and interaction can arise. Challenges might emerge in terms of data and content sharing, user transitions, interactions, and compatibility standards between different metaverses. Additionally, competition and conflicts of commercial interests could also arise among various metaverses.
Making a definite prediction about the development process of the Metaverse is challenging. However, considering current technological advancements, the interest of major technology companies, and user demands, it can be anticipated that the Metaverse will become more widespread and advanced in the coming decades. During this timeframe, efforts are expected to be made to align with the needs of the industry and society, in addition to technological and infrastructural advancements.
- What should be done for future-oriented strategic planning?
Rather than getting caught up in contentious definitions and making grand predictions, it can be beneficial to return to the fundamentals. While the concept of the Metaverse might be uncertain, it encompasses certain realities that we’re experiencing now. Breaking down these components, evaluating them in their respective contexts, and considering their relevance and necessities for the organization can be a prudent step to take.
Firstly, keeping the timeframes as short as possible is of utmost importance. Given the rapid changes in technology and trends, predicting a period longer than two or three years can be nearly impossible. Therefore, focusing on recent developments and staying updated with current innovations is crucial. Observing the actions of others, following early creators and developers, and learning from the mistakes of early adopters can be a valuable strategy for future success.
Remembering that the future belongs not only to those who can effectively distinguish signals from noise but also to those who can adapt best to whatever form the future takes is crucial. The future is filled with unexpected changes. Therefore, being flexible, adapting to change, and quickly adjusting to different scenarios are of vital importance.
Adapting to change and seizing opportunities primarily involves continuous self-improvement and learning, as well as preparing for the future or collaborating with individuals and companies capable of doing so.
These are just a few of the questions, and I hope to find answers to more, including those that will come from you