The idea of a metaverse is not new to sci-fi readers. It isn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s recent invention. He renamed Facebook Meta and has the most popular VR headset on the market. In 1992’s Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson introduced the term to our vocabulary. The metaverse has been depicted in a number of science fiction works since then. One of the most popular and well-known is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and its subsequent adaptation by Stephen Spielberg. Evidently, the imagination of humans has been busy imagining a digital reconstruction.
All of humanity will be able to change how they interact with one another through the inevitable advancements in VR tech. It will revolutionize the way that we interact with each other. Brands will seek out ways to reach these emerging markets in order to sell their products. Big tech will also look to lower the entry cost and barriers to entry to increase consumer adoption via advertising and experiential models. There will be both winners and losers in this rush to market. My belief is that speed will not be the key to success. Understanding how everything fits together and having a clear view of where you should invest your capital will be more important.
You must be able to fully understand four technologies in order to reap the benefits of the future.
VR/AR is the first. It involves both hardware and software advances that will create virtual worlds and provide the tools to access them. Virtual Reality headsets are a great way to experience the world from a different perspective. Although the technology is still in its infancy, it has been improving for more than 50 years. Those who keep up with it can now spend hours immersed in virtual reality.
Augmented reality (or AR) has been around for some time. It can be experienced in very subtle and seamless ways without the need to wear a headset. Snapchat filters allow us to be a floating potato in our living room, and Wayfair allows customers to view furniture in their homes. As VR and AR merge, I believe the line between them is blurred. However, I predict that the lines between them will become blurred as more elements from the real world are added to VR, and other elements from the virtual world will be brought into the real.
These three elements are interconnected and will enable us to decentralize our entire system. This will ensure that no single company has a monopoly on virtual worlds and how we trade goods and services. This is the keyword: “decentralize”. These technologies have been in the news a lot lately, as crypto and NFTs have exploded into financial markets in ways no one expected. To fully appreciate VR, you will need to get a digital wallet and purchase some crypto.
As VR worlds develop and grow, brands will be able to purchase virtual real estate, create smart contracts, and offer services that are not limited by the physical limitations of the physical world. There will be a flood of digital goods that can be used to decorate virtual spaces. These goods will have demand and supply, and therefore a market. This is something we see in a lot of ways today. However, they are largely hidden in closed systems that use Robux in-game currency. Robux can be used to purchase digital goods within the Roblox ecosystem. Although you can buy in-game currency using credit cards, your Robux cannot be taken to Starbucks. Platforms like Roblox have the ability to enable developers to create digital goods such as NFTs and cryptocurrency with digital wallets. These digital goods can be purchased and sold independently of any gaming environment.
Take a moment to think about the following options for bringing this home.
Imagine yourself getting up in the morning and cleaning your teeth before you get to work. The mirror guides you through the process, showing you the inside of your mouth, hitting every corner, and offering product and service suggestions based on the camera in your toothbrush and mirror. The glass allows you to feel like you’re in a rainforest, with wildlife and hot springs all around, while you take a refreshing shower under a waterfall. The windshield displays price and availability information on all items you pass while you are driving to work. Click a button and all glass will turn black. This is a relaxing visualization that can help you relax before you start your workday. Once you arrive at your building you activate your smart glasses. Your virtual assistant will appear right beside you, helping you to digest and rearrange your day. You also get a digest of all the inbound communications from yesterday. You are greeted by a custom-made leather chair and a headset. This headset whisks you to a virtual showroom at Mount Everest where you can sell camping gear. People from all over the globe also appear as avatars and you can instantly buy your goods using Bitcoin.
There are endless possibilities.
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