Metaverse Guide: Understanding The Basics Will Open Up a New World
Fresh updates on the metaverse continue to hit news sites at an impressive rate, but it’s such a fascinating, rapidly developing topic that those reporting on the metaverse rarely provide a thorough explanation on what it is. And, crucially, why it’s such an important matter to so many of us.
Without doubt, the metaverse can appear to be complicated, but don’t worry: we’re here to explore and explain the metaverse in detail.
Below, you can find insights into the metaverse concept, the technologies powering it, how to use metaverse solutions, and other related topics. Read our metaverse guide to understand how this incredible innovation merges the physical and digital worlds so adeptly.
Metaverse: Explained for Newcomers
As a term, the metaverse can be applied to a variety of experiences. Most commonly, people use it to describe an immersive digital world accessed via a virtual reality (VR) headset. However, the metaverse can also become integrated into a real-world environment through a less rigid, more flexible digital overlay (e.g. augmented reality). For example, the hugely popular Pokémon GO app that allows users to find Pokémon in real-world environments using their smartphone’s camera.
It’s vital to consider, though, that the metaverse has amazingly practical properties that may be overlooked. It allows for seamless collaboration between online and offline components in such a way to open up the potential for ongoing development. Essentially, the metaverse is a bold new digital universe running parallel to the one in which we live. However, this universe can be merged with ours to deliver revolutionary, interactive experiences with an unprecedented level of realism.
While the metaverse is still being developed, it can be considered an extraordinary experiment bringing us astonishing new revelations. Brands and developers have the power to explore wildly diverse approaches to the metaverse concept, which means it’s hard to predict exactly how the metaverse will evolve in years to come. However, you can dive into it right now to understand it, and its development, better.
What are the Metaverse’s Key Features and Functions?
We’ll explore the metaverse’s defining characteristics in this section of our Metaverse Explained guide. With the metaverse undergoing an ongoing process of development and discovery, you can expect to find astounding new surprises if you use it frequently.
However, there are some consistent, staple features across the metaverse in all its forms. Different implementations can work with these rules in various ways, but you can always depend on the following elements within any form of the metaverse.
There are no obvious limits within the metaverse: yes, you can expect to run into spaces that you’re unable to move past, but that’s because nobody has created anything within those spaces yet. The metaverse as an environment is virtually endless — it’s up to visionary programmers to utilize this immense digital canvas properly.
It’s a Decentralized Space
There is no single owner of the metaverse: it’s not a privately held property or platform. Instead, the metaverse is more of a huge plot of virtual land in which countless people can live and work together. In the real world, we take ownership of our own houses, buildings, and land through deeds and contracts. But in the metaverse, this is usually demonstrated via systems related to blockchain technology.
The Metaverse Can’t Be Deactivated
No one person can switch the metaverse off — it’s a vast decentralized system composed of countless standalone components. Yes, a number of its elements exist on servers that could go offline for various reasons, but the metaverse in general is NOT based on a single server.
Its Functional Economy Echoes Our Own Economy
In the metaverse, there’s a functional cryptocurrency-driven economy that will enable users to purchase virtual products and land, as we have in the physical world. For example, digital assets involving art are protected as NFTs, which allows users to take ownership of those goods and sell them on to others for a profit.
The Metaverse Delivers a Powerful Experience for the Senses
One or more of your senses are engaged while you’re immersed in the metaverse — primarily vision (via a VR headset) and audio (via headphones). However, the metaverse can engage users through other senses, too, which allows you to tailor your virtual environment to suit you.
Build Relationships and Communities Online
You can form impactful social connections through the metaverse, primarily with other human users, though interacting with cutting-edge AI can also provide a satisfying social experience. You can discover new points of view and new elements of the metaverse by engaging with other users.
What are the Different Layers of the Metaverse?
Next, we’ll explore the metaverse’s seven layers. Why? Because it’s beneficial to discuss the metaverse in relation to it consisting of multiple layers that surround users, though there is no specific order to them.
Still, your connection to the metaverse can become deeper as you enter or enhance these different layers.
The layers are:
- Creator economy
- Spatial computing
- Human interface
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Experience Reality in a New Way
The metaverse is often imagined to be a 3D environment, and that’s generally correct. Users can, and will, engage with the metaverse through a set of VR goggles that simulate realistic environments in three dimensions. Interface tech will also allow you to hold and interact with digital tools within those 3D spaces. But the metaverse is NOT just about a 3D (or even 2D) realm.
Instead, it can be considered a dematerialized universe in which conventional spatial dimensions, frankly, have no relevance. For example, the hugely popular Alexa tech exists inside small items connected to huge quantities of data. But users inside the metaverse have the freedom to explore huge quantities of data that, in physical terms, exist on something as tiny and simple as a hard drive.
Essentially, the metaverse takes apart the user’s general understanding of spatial dimensions — and that’s not just inside the metaverse, either. The Internet of Things (IoT) can integrate the metaverse into the physical world in the same way that you can discover real-world elements within the metaverse.
2. Discover a Growing, Living Universe
Exploring the metaverse is one of the most important layers — as well as one of the most difficult to grasp. When we refer to exploration, we don’t just mean browsing the virtual 3D space, though that is a core part of the overall metaverse experience (especially with so many new, exciting locations to discover).
But exploration can also refer to inbound revelations, such as content created by the user community. There will be commercial interests targeting those looking for specific types of content, even niche ones.
Still, there will also be outbound discovery too, such as ads or what may be considered spam. Both inbound and outbound discoveries have one key thing in common: they relate to the metaverse bringing people new experiences they could not have without it.
3. An Exciting New Economy Allowing Creators to Flourish
There’s an entire economy in the metaverse, as it typically relies on cryptocurrency-based exchanges reliant on blockchain-based tech. However, the metaverse’s economy extends past the mere trade of currency for services and products. The creator economy helps differentiate the metaverse economy from that of the real world.
There were two early points of development for the early internet and metaverse. First came the pioneer phase, during which people creating content needed a significant degree of technical expertise to pull it off. Those building content would require high-level programming skills and experience when the internet or metaverse were still emerging.
Next, there was the engineering phase: even the most inexperienced creators can produce content thanks to a vast range of tools. However, the creator phase opens up the metaverse in its truest form, in which almost any user has the flexibility to make their own content for others to use. They can sell items, too.
4. Dissolving Barriers Between the Digital and Real
Remember when we mentioned that the metaverse can blur the lines between spatial dimensions? That will become more of an important topic as the metaverse develops and the boundaries get harder to recognize.
Yes, it’s easy to state that the digital world is synthetic when first stepping into the metaverse. But that can become tougher when you accumulate money, one-of-a-kind items, and even your own property portfolio within the digital realm. Even if you have a room in your home dedicated entirely to metaverse immersion, the space within those four walls could cease to feel like a physical environment.
Furthermore, the metaverse will be capable of simulating exceptionally realistic 3D locations. You could take long, relaxing walks in spaces you would never get to visit in the real world. You will even be able to keep fit by moving your body to explore 3D settings. It’s possible that you won’t even care that you’re not really traveling or exploring a physical environment — it will be the feeling of doing so that matters.
5. Decentralizing Experiences and Interoperability
When discussing centralized computing, we’re talking about an individual component or entity controlling a system that is completely digital. That’s the simplest way to utilize or create networks. Still, that doesn’t give end users much in the way of freedom or control.
However, the metaverse is dependent on development that is decentralized — it’s composed of countless components that are created, and owned, individually.
Decentralization’s exact nature differs from one implementation to the next, but all aspects of the metaverse share a key point: interoperability. Users design standard-based elements and make them interoperable with one another. As a result, components may be replaced or removed altogether, similar to extracting a computer’s RAM and switching it with a RAM stick built by a different brand.
In the metaverse, shared standards are used to work with the blockchain, and people can develop their own apps and extensions.
6. Take Advantage of Direct Communication with Human Interfaces
In the past 20 years, it’s become easier to overlook how much we interact with technology day in, day out. For instance, consider your smartphone — it’s not so much a phone as it is a supercomputer powered by a state-of-the-art network. They feature powerful sensors and innovative AI to make them easier to interact with.
Increasingly, smartphones are smarter and simpler to utilize, and are becoming integrated into interface tech compatible with the metaverse. Such as? The Oculus Quest practically blends smartphone and VR technologies, and integrating these components gives us a way to interface with the metaverse. Strange as it may sound, these solutions are transforming human beings into cyborgs like never before.
For example, the IoT makes the household devices we use each day smarter, such as smart glasses and watches that add new sensors to our bodies. And this is highly likely to continue for years to come.
7. Expanding the Digital Network and Interface Tools
The metaverse runs on a hugely intricate infrastructure. It’s not a nebulous thing, as some people may imagine. Most of us will be somewhat familiar with the metaverse’s components, such as wireless networks. For instance, 5G won’t just boost the quality of your phone calls — it provides faster internet access, which means that it will enable users to access the metaverse more easily.
As mobile technology’s capabilities are increasingly enhanced in this way, they become a better interface, and it’s simpler to build VR devices (and others) in a convenient, user-friendly format. For example, with the Oculus Quest, manufacturers have demonstrated that they can devise systems that blend common mobile components and VR technologies together.
The metaverse infrastructure’s development is aided by this comprehensive feature-convergence between technologies. Access to the metaverse will become more widespread with ongoing development in these areas.
Metaverse VS Web 3.0
Are you familiar with Web 3.0? If so, you may recognize a lot of similarities between it and the metaverse — and with good reason.
Web 3.0 can be considered as implementing the metaverse constructed on top of the internet. A web browser enables you to access metaverse content instead of a VR headset or similar device.
For instance, think about the number of businesses and metaverse implementations that utilize blockchain tech, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. These economic assets are related to the metaverse, but you can take advantage of them via a standard web browser too.
Still, this is one example of potentially many. Web 3.0 may connect people and AI systems found within the metaverse, or users could browse listings of metaverse real estate.
What Prior Versions of the Metaverse Have We Seen?
The metaverse has existed in other forms, including Second Life. This service is still in operation, and had an amazing 900,000 users at its most popular. Second Life remains one of the most notable examples of the metaverse concept, as it allows users to build unique avatars and interact with others in custom worlds.
Still, Fortnite, Roblox, and even MMOs (such as World of WarCraft) could be considered metaverse prototypes as they allow for social collaboration and interaction. But they still don’t deliver the level of immersion available in the latest metaverse projects.
Exploring Metaverse Use Cases from Today and Tomorrow
As we near the end of our guide, we’ll take a look at examples of applications created for the metaverse. It’s easier than you might expect to identify examples of the metaverse in many places, even though it may still seem like a revolutionary concept. You’ll find it in everything from gaming to business solutions.
1. Simulated Environments
Simulated environments, or virtual worlds, are digital spaces allowing many users to visit them at the same time. They can generate a custom avatar and explore a range of virtual locations, whether these are built by themselves or other users.
Meta’s Horizon Worlds is a terrific example of a recent metaverse platform. Users can wear the Oculus headset and explore animated settings as their own avatars, whether they want to meet other users, enjoy activities, or play games. Fortnite, Gather, and Hubs Mozilla are other great examples.
2. Metaverse Virtual Real Estate
DecentWorld, a Swiss digital real estate metaverse platform based on a real world example, sold $19 million worth of digital streets in less than two months since its launch. Others, such as Sandbox, have allowed for transactions on a similar level.
These can involve standard forms of currency, though most of the time transactions are completed via cryptocurrency. Regardless of the payment method used, though, these sales demonstrate the thriving economies within metaverses — and it’s hardly a new concept. Second Life, which helped to pave the way for today’s metaverse, allowed users to partake in a thriving virtual real estate marketplace around 20 years ago.
3. Playing Games
Roblox is a well-known example of metaverse gaming options, as well as Decentraland, Sandbox, and Axie Infinity. Immersion is one of the most important elements of any metaverse gaming platform. Players can undertake a range of missions and work to achieve goals based on varied motivations, all within an impressive social landscape. These games offer a vibrant, believable virtual world, and new users continue to sign up frequently.
4. Major Public Events and Activities
In the metaverse, you’ll find a wealth of events like those you would expect to see in the real world — and some that go far beyond. Sensorium Galaxy, for instance, is spectacularly suited to unique experiences, with artists like Steve Aoki and Armin van Bururen expanding the metaverse platform into something special. There’s a whole world focused on music, while users can also find spaces dedicated to fitness, meditation, and more.
Meanwhile, Fortnite and similar services have paired with big names to bring users outstanding experiences. Fortnite, in particular, hosts interactive events related to artists in its Soundwave series, with performers like Ariana Grande taking part. Other Fortnite events include offering director JJ Abrams as a custom avatar and showcasing new glimpses of the Star Wars films. Bridging online and offline events in this way is (and will remain) a key part of the metaverse.
5. Corporate Applications
The pandemic introduced many more people to video conferencing and, in countless cases, the limitations of webcam technology. A host of brands are providing metaverse-base solutions, such as Meta with its Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft’s Mesh for Microsoft Teams. With Mesh, you can make online meetings in Microsoft Teams more immersive and engaging with virtual environments.
The metaverse is allowing businesses to bring meetings and offices into the digital realm, providing an alternative to what can be impractical or unappealing real-world spaces.
What Devices Can You Use to Step Into the Metaverse?
In this section of our Metaverse guide, we’ll take a look at the devices designed to bring you into the metaverse.
One of the major contrasts between the metaverse’s early and current iterations is the technology we use to get inside it. Today, you can enjoy a powerfully immersive experience that makes you feel like you really are in another world.
So, what devices are available to you?
A VR headset fits comfortably over your eyes, just like a pair of goggles, with a display of the metaverse environment close to each eye. Headsets track the position of your head to ensure that your perspective adjusts as it would in the real world.
The Oculus Quest 2, from Meta, is one example of a VR headset. Meta also has an app known as Horizon Worlds for its Facebook metaverse. PlayStation users can also play certain games with Sony’s PlayStation VR, while Hololens from Microsoft is another option.
Like VR devices, AR technology incorporates digital visuals into your perspective on the world around you. But while VR replaces your view with a completely simulated space, AR overlays virtual elements onto your view instead.
Essentially, AR devices utilize two elements, which is why it’s typically more costly. AR tech must be more streamlined to facilitate your exploring the real world safely, and it has to track your position with more care so bigger pieces of tech don’t restrict your movement.
Video Games Consoles
Do you own one of the latest games consoles? Well, then it’s possible that you have a key metaverse component available already.
For instance, while the XBox lacks support for AR or VR, it provides users with its Roblox and metaverse museum platforms. Fortunately, though, if you own a PlayStation, you can take advantage of the PlayStation VR device to access virtual-reality features.
That’s because Sony innovated in metaverse concepts at an early stage, with PlayStation Home bringing state-of-the-art innovations to PlayStation 3 users. Sony is likely to make more big developmental leaps, with its PlayStation VR facilitating further exploration into the potential of the metaverse.
Standard computers provide users with ways to access the metaverse, due to their flexible configurability, though they may not be particularly user-friendly to non-experts. Most programs granting access to the metaverse operate on PCs, but not all computers are made alike.
Great graphics processing units (GPUs) are essential to render a simulated environment as intended, and VR or AR devices are crucial for the full experience. It’s possible that you would need a cryptocurrency wallet to perform transactions in the metaverse too.
Axie Infinity and other metaverse apps are restricted to one mobile platform. However, Roblox can be accessed via iOS, Android, and a host of alternative platforms. That means you could step into a simulated world using just your smartphone, with VR support available too.
So, you can utilize the same metaverse platforms on your phone as users use on intricate computers. As a result, Roblox is a terrific point for beginners to start, as you can upgrade your equipment while you continue to use the same software to access the metaverse.
The future of metaverses is fascinating and exciting, but you can start exploring this amazing technology today! You can take advantage of even fairly low-powered gear to taste the metaverse for yourself, while more high-end equipment allows you to see some truly jaw-dropping developments.
Thanks for reading our guide — we hope you feel inspired to start experiencing the metaverse with whatever devices are at your disposal.