You probably know that Facebook has renamed itself Meta and that bets are on that the metaverse will be our next major technological leap forward. But what is the metaverse and, for those of you who have all eyes on Beijing right now, how might it impact the Olympics in years to come?
In very simple terms, the metaverse is a blend of virtual, augmented and physical reality. This merged reality (MR) blurs the line between the digital world and the real world as we know it today.
Virtual reality (VR) is typically made up of imaginary digital places, whereas augmented reality (AR) changes the experience of the true physical reality that you already exist within by adding new digital elements to it.
At this time in our human existence, if you want to visit the Olympic Games, you likely have to purchase airline tickets, book accommodations, and physically attend the Games. If you only want to watch the Games, you can pay NBC to watch them. If the metaverse was fully developed, you’d be able to experience the Games as if you were in Beijing from the comfort of your home, providing an experience that would be exponentially better than cable TV or any streaming service. For example, you could transform yourself into a drone hovering over the real ski jumping slope in the Zhangjiakou cluster, or push and leap into an athlete’s bobsled as it catapults down the run at the Yanqing Sliding Centre, or just hang out at one of the 3 Olympic Villages. The possibilities are endless. What I’ve described to you are all potential visual, auditory, and movement-based experiences - I haven’t heard much discussion yet about the digital future of touch, smell, and taste to complete the full human experience.
The word ‘metaverse’ was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” in which he portrays humans as programmable avatars who buffer between a dystopian Los Angeles and a virtual world called the metaverse. For those of you who aren’t book worms, there is the promise of an eventual series or movie being made.
Though Stephenson admits that he just “made shit up” 30 years ago, I can’t help but think of the 1964 Star Trek pilot (“The Cage”) in which a distress call and the subsequent discovery of a lost scientific expedition are just illusions created by humanoids to lure the USS Enterprise to their planet. Will our future equivalent of humanoids be software developers?
Virtual reality still requires a cumbersome headset, while augmented reality can be experienced with a smartphone. I’m pretty sure the military is already light years ahead of us, with a completely different solution that delivers the metaverse without the feeling of being imprisoned in a welding helmet or subjecting data-heavy users to seemingly endless throbber icons. Computing power and internet transformation are essential pieces of the puzzle. The metaverse assumes complete interoperability provided through a network of interconnected experiences and applications, devices and products, tools and infrastructure.
“The metaverse is not simply a world in a headset.”
“It’s about being within the computer rather than accessing the computer. It’s about being always online rather than always having access to an online world.” (Matthew Ball)
Described as an embodied internet, the implications of the metaverse will be profound and game-changing, yet difficult to predict. As VC man Matthew Ball says, “This will be a multi-decade transformation that will create, destroy and transform trillions in value and reach nearly every industry and category”.
To some cynics, the metaverse is described as a black hole of consumption. I wonder how much it’ll cost to watch/interact with the Olympics differently in the future, with the IOC, technology and media companies holding the reigns. You know the answer already.
Now challenge yourself and your friends to our Metaverse Quiz of the Day, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Our Metaverse Quiz of the Day Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at www.quizefy.com, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy on social media, so we can remind you of the upcoming blog and quiz content.