The term Metaverse comes from Snow Crash, a sci-fi novel released 40 years ago. The name combines meta, which means something that refers to itself, and verse, which is just a contraction of ‘universe’. Together, they don’t have a consistent meaning yet, but the generally accepted idea is that a metaverse is like a 3D gaming environment that you can enter using a virtual reality headset. Once inside, you can interact with other people, explore your surroundings and even spend money.
This interactive, sensory, wraparound version of the Internet seems to offer a brand new realm of opportunity to retailers and entertainment producers. That is why many games, music, and e-commerce producers are exploring new ways to monetize these environments.
Like anything new and different it has attracted its own unfamiliar vocabulary, so we’ve set out a few of the terms you need to know to understand this new frontier below.
Metaverse doesn’t describe a single technology; instead, it ring-fences a concept that is currently under development. However, when it is fully realized, it will most likely include 3D shared virtual environments that will feature extended reality, virtual reality, augmented reality, crypto, and artificial intelligence. People will be able to access them together and they will engage some or all of their senses. Some of it will most likely be for work, some for play, and some for socializing and shopping, just like in the real world.
Technology corporations like Meta, Microsoft, and Tencent are among many who are working on the solutions that will bring these new environments to life. They are hoping that the metaverse will be the next incarnation of the world wide web, and will feature several interconnected virtual worlds with their own economies and communities. Nicola Mendelsohn at Meta thinks that within the next ten years the metaverse will have a billion users, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers. Its overall value could be in the trillions.