Imagine a virtual reality where billions of people may communicate with one another, shop, learn, and live comfortably on their couches in the real world.
In this universe, the computer displays we use to access the world wide web have transformed into portals into an actual, three-dimensional virtual world that is more expansive and superior to the real world. Digital replicas of ourselves called avatars travel freely between experiences while carrying our identities and money.
Despite the excitement, this is the so-called metaverse, and it doesn’t exist at the moment.
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A single, shared, realistic persistent, 3D virtual realm where people can experience different ways of life which they couldn’t have in the real world is what many in the computing industry refer to as the “metaverse.”
The idea is not new; author Neal Stephenson first used the word “metaverse” in his science fiction book Snow Crash in 1992, and the development of the technologies that support a virtual reality-based internet has been ongoing for decades.
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There is minimal consensus over how the metaverse will operate because it is yet mostly unbuilt.
However, a general definition of the metaverse is a digital ecosystem built on a variety of real-time collaboration software, 3D technologies, and decentralised finance tools based on blockchain technology.
The success depends on the elements like the level of interconnection between virtual worlds, governance, data portability, and user interfaces.
Three potential scenarios were presented by Lauren Lubetsky, senior manager of Bain & Company, at a session on the metaverse at the MIT Platform Strategy Summit in 2022:
- Consumers continue to use the metaverse for playing games and entertainment, but it still falls short of being a fully immersive virtual reality.
- Similar to the internet in 3D, the metaverse is an open, dynamic, and interoperable environment.
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