Metaverse: what is it?

Metaverse what is it

From universe parallels to ours in which we will evolve and interact as in real life, engaging in socialization, games or even work. This is the new Grail ofInternet that people like Mark Zuckerberg : the “metavers” or “metaverses”.

In English we speak of ” metaverse ”And in French the term“ métavers ”is more commonly used. The etymology of the word tells us very well about its meaning. “Meta” means “beyond” and “to” means the word “universe”. So we get “beyond the universe” or “parallel universe”.

The origins of the metaverse

The first appearance of the term metaverse was in Snow Crash, “The Virtual Samurai” by Neil Stephenson. In this visionary novel published in 1992, citizens use avatars digital to explore a virtual world online – which is just another way for them to escape reality. It turns out that in Snow crash, the global economy collapsed and governments lost most of their power to a few mega-corporations. The metaverse is therefore a way for them to escape reality. The hero of the novel, Hiro Protagonist, spends most of his time there, via his glasses and listeners.

Steven Spielberg’s film, Ready Player One (2018) relays a certain vision of such a concept: there is the virtual world Oasis, in which the hero of the film readily immerses himself. However, this parallel world is above all dedicated to the game.

With the advent of NFT for non-fungible tokenin English (unique digital objects), some online video games have started to be equated with metaverse, notably The Sandbox Where Decentraland, in which everyone can claim exclusive access to a piece of a given territory and intervene as they see fit on their appearance.

End of October 2021, Facebook brought the concept to the forefront, when Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of such a parallel world. The company even changed its name in passing to adopt that of Meta and better mark its intention to develop an environment that would be the future of socialization on the Internet. Zuckerberg described the metaverse thus: “ Here you will be able to do almost anything you can imagine – getting together with friends and family, working, learning, playing, shopping, creating.

It should be noted that Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from the vision developed by Neil Stephenson in Snow Crash: “ In this book, the environment is rather negative. I don’t think it will turn out like this … For Zuckerberg, the metaverse appears as a natural evolution of Facebook, with the same vocation to bring people together. We could, to this extent, assimilate the metaverse to a social network of another dimension, insofar as you can wander there as you wish, meet people and interact (indulge in a game of ping-pong), visit places …

What defines a metaverse

Three points seem essential with regard to participation in a metaverse.

1. Immersion

Mark Zuckerberg made it clear: “ Users will need to feel immersed in this universe. So then, we find ourselves in this universe as soon as we enter it. All the reality perceived and heard during this experience is that of the metaverse. You can touch things and feel them.

To this extent, we could equate the metaverse to an experience of virtual reality which would be deployed on a very large scale. For the record, the virtual reality consists in defining an artificial environment, entirely created from a synthetic image. So in a game like Indiana Jones – Eye of the Temple, a whole universe specific to this saga has been created. After putting on a helmet such as theOculus Rift, HTC Vive or the Valve Index, the player must find the exit of a temple full of traps.

2. An open and permanent world

Anyone should be able to join the Metaverse at any time, and also leave it instantly. And in this world, we have our avatar which can be a reproduction of ourselves or an artificial character that we embody. It is through this avatar that we engage in competitions, training activities or even work.

3. Sustainable elements

The house in which you live, the streets that you walk through in your favorite neighborhood, the objects you own, all of this is there permanently. Thanks to NFTs, you can in particular have unique elements such as works of art exhibited in your living room, a private vehicle, an armor that can be used in video games …

It is likely that there will also be pre-programmed characters in the metaverse performing certain social functions like an information booth in real life.

What accessories for a metaverse?

Participation in a metaverse will suppose the acquisition and use of certain equipment or real and virtual objects:

  • A helmet of virtual reality. This accessory is essential to induce the famous feeling of immersion mentioned above. Oculus (which is owned by Facebook / Meta), Sony and HTC are among the suppliers of such equipment. Ideally, such a helmet will have to be replaced by glasses that are easy to put on and that can instantly immerse us in the metaverse. Some have even mentioned neural interfaces, but it is unlikely that such intrusive equipment will ever be spontaneously adopted by a majority of the population.
  • From sensors high touch resolution, able to replicate the sense of touch in this virtual world. One could also envisage combinations capable of transmitting tactile sensations in the major parts of the body.
  • Personalized clothing, accessories or houses. The craze of several luxury brands for NFTs goes in this direction. A platform such as Exclusible offers designers of jewelry, fashion, beauty products and other luxury accessories to produce NFTs.
  • A parallel currency, and therefore a cryptocurrency as we find in The Sandbox Where Axis Infinity with which we will be able to buy and resell the objects of the game. play to earn (Play to win) are called upon to develop.

Who builds metaverse?

In addition to Facebook, among the large companies active in the creation of metaverse we find:

  • Epic Games, the creator of the ultra popular Fortnite, which raised $ 1 billion in April 2021 and intends to invest primarily in the transformation of this game into a metaverse;
  • Roblox, another publisher, which intends to evolve its online game in a way that facilitates relationships similar to those we have in real life;
  • the OVR platform which covers the entire globe: you can buy land, build buildings, create online events …
  • the startup Magic Leap which is building an alternative reality platform and hiring Neil Stephenson as chief visionary;
  • Microsoft. The editor of Windows wants to adapt its application of Teams videoconferencing so as to make it a metaverse, primarily dedicated to the business world;
  • In November 2021, Disney announced it was joining the movement without giving details on its technological approach.

A combination of high technologies

Metaverse visionaries typically take us back a lot of years in the future, as a lot of existing technologies will need to be matured before such a parallel universe can be deployed. If visualization accessories and touch systems are part of it, so are everything that comes from the top. debit. Besides the optical fiber, the 5G and maybe even also 6G are essential ingredients of such equation.

As for the integration of the metaverse in our model of civilization, one can raise many questions. For countries where the metaverse will flourish, what can we expect? An artificial paradise allowing escape from a real world rather than facing its problems? A tool for individual liberation or enslavement? An ecological disaster linked to the computing power underlying such a system? It also remains to be seen whether dictatorial regimes will ever allow access to a metaverse where everyone is free to act and express themselves as they wish.

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