Last month, Facebook announced that it has changed its company name to Meta – a rebrand that reflects the company’s growing ambitions beyond social media. Based on the ‘metaverse’ concept from science fiction, the term describes Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for a virtual world, utilised for both work and play.
With a prototype or any beta testing still many years away – understanding the concept of a ‘metaverse’ can be difficult. In fact, a month onward and we’re still trying to ascertain the implications of the tech conglomerate’s announcement – hence why in this week’s blog, we’re delving into the facts and our predictions for the future of the internet.
The term “metaverse” was first coined in Snow Crash, a science fiction novel published in 1992, in which author Neal Stephenson imagines a virtual world where humans, as avatars, interact with each other (and other artificially intelligent versions of people, almost bots if you will) in an online virtual world that has been built to resemble the real world.
Simply put, the metaverse is where the physical and digital worlds converge. Alongside its potential to revolutionise gaming and the way in which people socialise – the technology could also transform the professional environment; particularly amid the work-from-home shift instigated by the pandemic. Instead of seeing co-workers on a video call grid, employees could interact with them virtually via the metaverse.
The scope of the concept is so vast, Mark Zuckerberg has said that he envisions a world where it changes the entire premise of his company. “I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
The way in which people enter the metaverse will most likely determine whether it succeeds or fails. It’s likely that there will be countless ways in which you can access it – including your smart phone, computer, and the somewhat archaic concept of a television. However, we anticipate that the metaverse will truly flourish within the realm of virtual and augmented reality.
Several businesses, including Facebook, Apple, Google, Ray-Ban, and others, have been working on digital spectacles, headsets and contact lenses in recent years, which might wind up bringing a layer of the metaverse to real life. In the context of augmented reality, the metaverse wouldn’t simply be an environment that exists only within the digital realm – but a place layered on top of the real world.
For example, imagine playing a game of Pac-Man in the real world – running around trying to capture virtual coins that no one else can see, or evading multi-coloured ghosts who want to eat you alive. You could sit in a coffee shop in New York while a friend sits in a coffee shop in Paris, and both have a “real” coffee together, even though you’re not in the same place.
If you’re confused by the concept of cryptocurrencies, it’s likely that you’re completely bewildered by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – the recent breakthrough in digital asset acquirement. Currently, those lucky (and rich enough) to own a Beeple digital NFT, can only share it with people via a computer screen – however, in the metaverse, they would be able to hang it on the wall of their digital house and invite digital guests over to enjoy it.
With this concept in mind, it’s easy to envision a scenario where people select one of these limited avatars and subsequently become a new form of celebrity in the metaverse. Present-day Bitcoin billionaires can also expect to lead a lavish existence within the digital metaverse, comparative to the super rich in the real world.
Despite the company’s change in identity, its services and corresponding brands such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Facebook will not change their names. Instead, Meta and the technologies it develops will eventually be integrated into these platforms.
Meta’s focus is on developing technologies that connect people in collaborative digital environments. The Facebook social network remains important to Meta’s user base, therefore it’s extremely unlikely that the company will modify the present experience or introduce drastic changes that would make the site difficult to use.
Although a true “metaverse” remains some years away, parts of it are already here – and even more are on the horizon. Augmented and virtual reality experiences are transforming the way we socialise and consume content. At Cordis, we’ve utilised Snapchat’s AR capabilities to create digital experiences that increase footfall and sales for our retail clients. It’s clear that immersive technology will be the driving force behind marketing innovations over the next decade.
If you’re interested in embracing the future – amalgamating both technology and creativity, get in touch with Cordis today.