There is far more to the Metaverse than just an escape from reality — it is a horizon we are yet to explore and understand to our best
The digital world is forever expanding, travelling as far as human imagination can go. It is where one’s wildest dreams can come true and the possibilities become endless.
But life in this digital world is not a new concept by any means — the theories and visions go back as far as the early ’80s. Not many will remember the ‘Tron’ movies that came out in 1982 and a sequel in 2010. But this movie is perhaps the pinnacle of imagination of a digital world where life took on a new form.
“Tron, the doorway to a digital frontier. We stand at the precipice and we can no longer afford to ignore the potential of merging artificially intelligent programming into increasingly complex human interaction,” said Kevin Flynn, the protagonist of Tron franchise, before creating a digital space where people could live a life different than that in reality.
Looking at 2023, such a place now truly exists for us — the Metaverse. It is difficult to fathom that just two years have gone by since the pledge of the digital realm was made where, as Mark Zuckerberg had stated, we were assured the ability to “be able to express ourselves in new, joyful, completely immersive ways.”
The promises were endless.
Within the metaverse, neurosurgeons based in Scotland could perform surgeries on patients situated in New Zealand, while friends could assemble in virtual space stations, opulent alpine getaways, and magical forests.
The ‘Metaverse’ is a groundbreaking concept with the capacity to revolutionise our familiar world. Its applications are boundless, encompassing various facets of life such as healthcare, employment, and commerce.
But the keyword here is that this universe is a concept, therefore still far from being the perfect digital world as we are used to seeing in movies.
Since its debut, this vision has experienced a gradual decline in technological enchantment. The promised dynamic virtual bodies materialised as rigid cartoon avatars, and the Oculus headsets proved to be cumbersome. Given that the physical world still comprises doors and walls, the most ardent users often found themselves running into them.
However, the commitment to its potential remains alive, and technological advancements appear to be on the upswing.
The Metaverse as a journey: Zuckerberg’s perspective
During Meta’s Connect event in September last year, Zuckerberg discussed the Metaverse as more of a journey than a final destination, one that is already in progress.
Emphasising that our present world is inherently ‘meta,’ he pointed out its fusion of the physical and the digital, foreseeing the gradual dissolution of boundaries between these realms into what we term the ‘metaverse.’
This is the realm where screens will transform into headsets, tangible objects will slowly incorporate interactive holograms, and the ordinary world we inhabit will metamorphose into something splendid, almost imperceptibly.
One of the Metaverse’s most enticing features is the potential to escape the digital-physical divide mediated by screens and to once again have a more integrated connection with ‘reality.’
But there is far more to the Metaverse than just an escape from reality as we know it. It is a horizon we are yet to explore and understand to our best to utilise it to the best. And at the pace technology is progressing that day of glory might not be too far.
AR and VR in shaping the Metaverse
The pivotal role of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are the most thrilling features in the Metaverse. These technologies, being integral to the virtual world, provide participants with an immersive environment.
The virtual nature of the Metaverse necessitates the use of AR and VR to create a sense of presence and engagement.
The demand for heightened immersion and interactive experiences fuels the continuous advancement and widespread adoption of these technologies in the dynamic landscape of the Metaverse.
Reshaping lives and society
The Metaverse is capable of changing lives and reshaping society completely.
First, this universe will make society cashless. Should the Metaverse become dominant, there is a possibility that wages might be disbursed in cryptocurrency. This is because the Metaverse centres around the concept of trading digital assets within its virtual realm. Each individual would possess a digital passport containing their assets, akin to NFTs, requiring cryptocurrency for participation.
When the pandemic brought significant changes to our individual and teamwork dynamics, remote work gained widespread acceptance and is now a permanent fixture. The Metaverse is poised to revolutionise remote work once more, transforming how teams collaborate.
In this virtual realm, teams will operate within a shared space, interacting through virtual avatars. There is even the potential for groundbreaking augmented reality technologies to facilitate collaborative work in a more immersive manner.
The Metaverse and other AI technologies have the capability to transform global learning experiences by eliminating physical barriers. Regardless of their geographical locations, students can engage in immersive learning experiences.
These can be done with virtual classrooms, participating in virtual campus activities, participating in lab activities as if the student is physically present in labs and doing the experiments and working directly with prominent personalities in various fields.
In essence, the Metaverse is poised to bring about significant changes to our familiar way of life. We can anticipate a gradual shift into the realm of virtual reality, an experience that holds the potential for both enjoyment and apprehension.