What is Metaverse?
The metaverse has been a hot topic of conversation recently, with Facebook and Microsoft both staking claims. But what is the metaverse? And when will it get here?
Author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term "metaverse" in his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash," in which he envisioned lifelike avatars who met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
Since then, various developments have made mileposts on the way toward a real metaverse, an online virtual world which incorporates augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars, video and other means of communication. As the metaverse expands, it will offer a hyper-real alternative world for you to coexist in.

What Is The Metaverse?

The metaverse refers to both current and future integrated digital platforms focused on virtual and augmented reality. It is widely hyped as the internet’s next frontier and seen as a significant business and financial opportunity for the tech industry and other sectors.
In the vision for the metaverse articulated by social media and technology companies, devices like virtual reality headsets, digital glasses, smartphones, and other devices will allow users access to 3-D virtual or augmented reality environments where they can work, connect with friends, conduct business, visit remote locations, and access educational opportunities, all in an environment mediated by technology in new and immersive ways.
The metaverse is not just one type of experience. Instead, it refers to a continuum of immersive digital experiences that will be available to users in the future and which will allow them to engage in a range of different activities in completely digital spaces. That could mean participating in a massive virtual reality multiplayer game accessed through a VR headset or experiencing integrated digital and physical spaces such as location-specific immersive digital content from business users who are visiting via digital glasses or smartphones.
The metaverse therefore isn’t one digital space but a number of digital spaces and experiences currently being created by companies to offer more realistic and immersive digital experiences. The technology has a range of potential functionalities from augmented reality collaboration platforms that can enable better collaboration and integration to work productivity platforms for remote teams that might, for example, allow real estate agents to host virtual home tours.

Metaverse Terms

Virtual World

A virtual world is a simulated environment that can be accessed by many users who can explore the world simultaneously and independently through the use of an avatar. The virtual world presents perceptual data to the user while also including the real time actions and communications of other users along with their movements and gravity.
Massive multiplayer online games use virtual worlds to allow players to do things like build and change the world and travel between spaces within the world. Those behind the metaverse believe virtual worlds can have applications outside gaming including in things like collaboration software and medical care. Virtual worlds are also sometimes called synthetic worlds.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that’s usually provided by a virtual reality headset that projects realistic images, sounds and other sensations to a user within a virtual environment. Virtual reality is currently used for video games but could be used for virtual meetings, medical training, or military training. A person who is using virtual reality equipment is able to do things like look around a virtual world, move, and interact with objects and other users.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the integration of real and virtual worlds to create new ways to interact with physical and digital spaces and other users. In mixed reality, you are not solely in the virtual world or entirely in the real world but somewhere along the 'virtuality continuum' between the real and virtual environments.
Examples of mixed reality are place-specific simulations such as 3D representations of charts or concepts projected to virtual reality headsets or glasses in a university lecture or the use of augmented reality in Pokemon Go where users could see the Pokemon they found in the real world via their mobile device’s camera. Mixed reality has applications for video games, education, military training, healthcare, and the integration of humans and robotics.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is similar to mixed reality in that it creates an interactive way to experience real world environments. Augmented reality often enhances the real world through digital sensory additions such as visuals, sounds, sensory data, or olfactory data. Augmented reality features an integration of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and 3D visualizations of both virtual and real objects. An example of how it might be used is to allow shoppers to visualize a product they are considering in an environment that resembles their home.

Virtual Economies

The term 'virtual economy' was first used to refer to the exchange or sale of virtual goods within online games, particularly massive multiplayer online games. In some of these games, players can buy things from each other and exchange real money for game-based money. However, virtual economies can also now incorporate crypto currencies and non-fungible tokens. Many believe that social media companies and other corporations might create their own virtual currencies in the future, although regulators might put limitations on their capacity to do so.