Emerging Technologies: The Metaverse
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
In our previous blog, we talked about Augmented Reality or AR, and its effects on the world. AR, as we previously discussed, refers to technology that allows us to enhance our real-world experience. Examples of AR technology include apps like Pokemon Go or PairPlay. Companies like IKEA and DHL have also implemented VR in their businesses to enrich buyer experience and improve logistics and management. VR, or Virtual Reality, on the other hand, is different from AR as it completely replaces the real world instead of adding new elements to it. One major example of VR, and the focus of our blog today, is the Metaverse. Some also refer to VR as Extended Reality or XR.
The purpose of VR is the create new fantastical worlds that function to our liking. VR requires the use of immersive headsets that block out the outside world and can be made from just a smartphone and some cardboard. The Metaverse is the most cutting-edge implementation of Virtual Reality and it will change how the world works.
What is the Metaverse?
Not to be confused with the Multiverse, the Metaverse is a form of VR. In the met averse, as we explained in our last blog, people will be able to create their realities. In these realities, people can take on any shape or form as their avatar, and go on several adventures—all virtually. People could also do business, sell virtual homes or even attend concerts, all from the comfort of their own homes. The Metaverse is not the Multiverse, and you’re unlikely to encounter evil alternate reality versions of yourself. However, you can travel to other people’s”metaworlds”, which, in essence, are tiny, custom-made virtual universes. So in a sense, it is like the Multiverse.
Some of the top tech companies have been investing in the Metaverse in recent years. For example, Microsoft recently bought gaming company, Activision Blizzard, for a whopping USD 68.7 billion! That’s almost a quarter of Pakistan’s complete Gross Domestic Product! Mark Zuckerberg and Meta have also been developing this kind of technology, and even the company name reflects that. Tech companies are not the only ones eyeing this new frontier. Nike has filed 7 trademarks to create and sell virtual Air Jordans in the Metaverse.
VR and the Metaverse share many of the same advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, VR enhances our social interactions and communication. This is especially true for times of these when people may not be able to meet due to COVID restrictions. Through the Metaverse, people could have parties or get-togethers, even if they are in different parts of the world. The idea of being able to travel to people’s own personal universes in the Metaverse also upgrades how social media works.
People could even attend school virtually through head-sets. Distance learning would become a lot more effective if students felt like they were really in a classroom, a laboratory or an operation theatre. Teachers could use VR to simulate chemical reactions so that students could better visualise how atoms work. People could even move offices into the Metaverse, and make working from home less monotonous.
A while back, we discussed cryptocurrency in one of our blogs. It is a digital, unregulated and secure but highly volatile type of currency that many claims are the future of the free market. Nonetheless, many countries, including Pakistan, have moved to ban it because of the high amounts of risk associated with it. But the Metaverse could be the perfect environment for cryptocurrencies and NFTs to thrive, as to buy digital goods, one needs digital currency. Crypto could be used to purchase virtual real estate or invest in digital stocks. The possibilities are endless.
Like all things, there are disadvantages related to VR and the Metaverse along with the advantages. VR set-ups are generally expensive and not available for everyone, though, as the technology develops further, prices are likely to come down. VR headsets are also known to cause vertigo and motion sickness, so the price may not be the only factor keeping people away.
Too much reliance on virtual interactions through VR may cause erosion of our relations and society. People might become addicted to the Metaverse and lose interest in real life. However, one could argue that this is already happening with existing forms of social media and gaming technology.
There are also cybercrime concerns when it comes to the Metaverse. People could obtain your personal information or breach your privacy. This fear is not unfounded, seeing that Meta, one of the corporations leading Metaverse technology, has a terrible history when it comes to protecting its users’ privacy, and it is currently facing legal action for sharing people’s medical data. That’s not all. Just a short time ago, news broke of a 21-year-old woman being harassed in the Metaverse.
LearnOBots and STEAM
LearnOBots is an Islamabad-based startup and we aim to bring STEAM learning to all kids in Pakistan. Our services include both stay-at-home and in-person classes on robotics, coding and much more. We also provide DIY Robotics Kits for hands-on experience and a STEAM Summer Camp. Experts working on the Metaverse tomorrow will be STEAM students today, so if you’re interested in LearnOBots, please contact us through our WhatsApp or email.