Let’s travel back in time to the year 1994. Everyone is asking what is the Internet? What can you do on it? What is surfing on the Internet like? In hindsight, what would you have replied? Today feels much like 1994, almost three decades later. The same types of questions, but now all around the Metaverse. Starting with: what is the Metaverse?
Having founded and directed <o> Treeview, a Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) software development studio since 2016, I have always found it challenging to explain what we do to the average Joe.
Recently the term Metaverse has started to come into the public conversation. But what exactly is the Metaverse? No one really knows yet. It is an ambiguous term being adopted by many technological sectors and is still manifesting into reality.
The current vague state of the term reminds me of growing up in the 90s when the Internet still hadn’t been fully adopted by the masses. Thousands of questions were being asked because the term had not been fully formed in the collective consciousness.
We are now at a similar stage in the creation of the term Metaverse. Is the Metaverse Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? Is the Metaverse web3? Are NFTs part of the Metaverse? Haven’t we already had Metaverses like World of Warcraft and Second Life?
With Meta’s recent company rebrand, the term Metaverse has been trending in the public conversation. Meta’s vision is fusing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies with social connection, creating the next generation of online social engagement.
AR/VR are independent technologies to social aspects of connecting humans. These technologies are transforming the way in which humans interact with technology. They are disrupting the concept of a screen, a window through which we look into the digital world. AR will fuse the digital world seamlessly with the physical world, while VR will fully immerse the human conscience into digital realities.
The crypto community has recently started associating web3 and NFTs with the Metaverse. The vision is to create a parallel world of governance independent of the current geopolitical landscape of nation-state-controlled economies. This community associates the term Metaverse with a new frontier where individuals can migrate into a new world and define new rules of governance.
The gaming community claims that there have been Metaverses for the last two decades. I spent most of my early teenage life in World of Warcraft, a virtual world with its own rules, economy, and a fulfilling sense of purpose. This virtual world was full of other humans represented by avatars under alias names where we connected on a personal level.
The reality is that today no one knows what the Metaverse is yet because it hasn’t fully manifested. It is being incubated by society’s creators, innovators, and early adopters at this very moment. It is being created in a very similar way to the last chapter of technology, which was a combination of a key set of new technologies:
- Smartphones: bringing the personal computer into every person’s pocket, making “online” synonymous with awake.
- Social Media: transforming the social fabric of society and how humans interact with each other.
- Cloud Computing: bringing scalability into front-end software development.
- 4G: Enabling multimedia consumption from anywhere.
This last cycle, known as web2.0, has transformed the world at a societal, economic, and industry level. The next generation of technology that many people believe has already started and is at its infancy will be powered by the following key technologies:
- AR/VR: Augmented Reality will allow humans to fuse the digital and physical world, and Virtual Reality will allow the human consciousness to travel into the computing world.
- Blockchain: underlying technology of the crypto revolution, enabling the creation of digital native economies, new forms of human governance and the decentralization of key components of the internet.
- 5G: enabling remote rendering that will unlock the scalability of rendering power of our everyday devices.
- Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Robotics: revolutionize the concept of work by automating many sectors of the economy thus freeing humans to focus on other life purposes.
The next chapter of technology will continue to exponentially transform society as we know it, redefining the concepts of:
- Reality. Today we use the terms real world to describe the physical world. The basic concept of what is real and what is not will start to evolve. We will begin to assimilate the physical and digital world, both as equally real.
- Current Geopolitical Landscape. The world order comprised of the 195 nation-states encompassing all humans, assets, resources, and currencies will start to see exit gateways into new independent self-governed economic realities.
- Work. We will start to see a disruption in the traditional notion of work and begin to see new economic industries that today may be considered playing a video game.
No one knows exactly how this next chapter of technological innovation will play out, but the societal impact will dwarf the previous 15 years of innovation.
The Metaverse feels like the term that will be used to describe the next cycle of technological innovation. A chapter of history driven by society’s builders hungry to manifest the insatiable human desire for creation.