Into the Metaverse
"This universe is only one of an infinite number. Worlds without end...
Who are you in this vast Multiverse?"
- The Ancient One, Doctor Strange (2016)
Did you know that there are 161 universes in Marvel? To put it simply, Multiverse is a collection of parallel virtual worlds that exist simultaneously, each with their unique traits and features.
On the other hand, Metaverse is a shared, digital environment where users can "live" and do activities together. Instead of having multiple virtual worlds like Multiverse, there is only one shared universe in Metaverse, which allows seamless movement of users among different platforms within the environment. It is highly connected with various entities such as AI, robots, and human participants, and users have ownership of their assets and experiences.
Can you imagine living in a digital world where you work, hang out, play sports, and attend events somewhere on the other side of the world - all virtually? The metaverse has the potential to assimilate most aspects of our lives, to a point where our digital selves will become more important than our physical ones. Whether this idea is amazing or frightening, well... that's up to you to decide.
However, it is undeniable that technology has made us more concerned about our digital avatar. Around 60% of Gen Z (18-25 y.o.) believed that our online presence is more important than our actual one; 44% were more comfortable presenting themselves online than in person, according to a July 2021 Harris Poll survey.
It is also important to note that Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to this transition of people prefering virtual interactions than real-life ones to some extent.
As we all know, Meta (formerly Facebook) has committed a $10 billion investment into the metaverse technology. Zuckerberg envisions a virtual world where digital avatars connect through work, travel or entertainment with just VR headsets.
Major figures like Bill Gates foresee that within three years, work and office meetings will move to that digital platform.
The world's largest software maker has in fact uses holograms and is developing mixed and extended reality (XR) applications with its Microsoft Mesh platform, which integrates real world with augmented- and virtual- reality. Interesting fact: The U.S. Army is currently partnering with Microsoft on an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset for soldiers to train and fight in.
In January this year, they announced a buyout of "Call of Duty" and "Candy Crush" maker - Activision Blizzard - marking the biggest acquisition in the gaming industry and showing the bet on the metaverse.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of the company that developed Fortnite, stated that it is no secret that Epic is invested in building the Metaverse. Epic most recently invested in Spire Animation and raised $20 million in a funding round. With Spire's animation pipeline and Epic's three-dimensional creation tool, the metaverse experience will allow Epic to move its existing character assets and worlds to the metaverse.
So... Why Does it Matter?
If you think about it, millions of people, including you and me, are already spending hours in virtual social spaces everyday such as Instagram, Discord, Twitter, Slack, Zoom, and so on. In the near future, hybrid offices, video-based education, and online communities will be the new normal. For better or worse - these are just a few of the ways in which our lives is spent on the digital world.
Nonetheless, the Metaverse certainly has potential. Despite being in a virtual space, the community can be more niche and thus more intimate. We can customize our avatar and connect with people we are interested in. Even though we are behind the screen or behind a headset, we can still build meaningful human connection and get unprecedented access to opportunity, no matter where we are.
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