What Is Metaverse and What Does It Have to Do With Facebook

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Featured

Mark Zuckerberg loves to be dramatic and mysterious, which makes the sudden Facebook rebranding to Meta less surprising. However, it’s more confusing than anything for most people. What is metaverse and how exactly does it relate to Facebook? The two tie together more than you might believe, but first, let’s dive into what “metaverse” means and how you might already be a part of it.

What is Metaverse?

Neal Stephenson is typically credited with coming up with the term metaverse in his popular 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash.” In his novel, he envisioned a futuristic world where people interacted in virtual worlds using avatars. If that future sounds more like now, then you’d be right.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook What Is

The ultimate purpose of the metaverse is to serve as an alternative to reality by using a combination of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), video/voice communication, 3D avatars, and more.

For example, if you wanted to hang out with friends, you’d never leave the house. Instead, you’d use technology to step into a realistic virtual world where you and your friends would hang out in avatar form. You might go to a concert, watch a movie together, play games, or just sit around and talk. It’d be just like real life but more convenient in many ways, especially if you live far apart.

To answer the question of what is metaverse: it’s a digital universe where you live, play, interact, and even work. In fact, in the popular virtual community/game Second Life, many users work full-time jobs creating and selling digital goods.

You’re Already a Part of the Metaverse

While not everybody is technically a part of the metaverse, millions already are, and you probably never even realized it. For example, if you’re an iPhone user, how often have you communicated using your custom memoji? While it’s a simplistic example, you’re using an avatar version of yourself to communicate digitally.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Memoji

If you love playing video games, you probably already have avatar versions of yourself that interact with other characters (real people, not NPCs). This is the metaverse in action. Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox are three highly popular examples where users are living and playing in the metaverse.

You could even consider some types of online meetings to be part of the metaverse. For instance, if a team uses a virtual meeting space where everyone’s avatars gather together to chat, this is the metaverse. The idea is to have a more immersive experience than just your standard video chat.

The great thing about it is it’s so simple to step into this virtual universe and interact as if you were simply walking down the street. In many cases, it doesn’t feel that much different.

As games, social networks, and online communities start using more advanced technology to merge reality and digital, you’ll find yourself jumping from the real world to the metaverse with ease.

It’s More than Just Virtual Reality

If you’re thinking that the metaverse is just virtual reality, you are only partially right. VR is an integral part of the metaverse. But, it’s not all it is. VR on its own just involves feeling like you’re a part of another reality or to experience something in a risk-free environment.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Healthcare

For example, healthcare professionals use VR to test new surgeries or during training to get experience before working with live patients. People dealing with mental health issues, such as anxiety or PTSD, use VR to step into calming worlds where they don’t have to feel afraid or worried.

With the metaverse, you add a social element. It’s not just about you – it’s an entire world or universe. Using the healthcare example, a full team might practice a surgery together or PTSD patients from around the world might meet together in a virtual room to talk, hang out, and deal with their trauma together.

This universe takes your daily life and brings it online. As the technology improves, you’ll see avatars transforming from cartoonish and obviously digital to holographic versions that look nearly real.

Facebook Becomes Meta

With all of the above to consider, why did Zuckerberg suddenly decide Facebook should be called Meta? The first reason is simple enough: to sound more cutting edge. The second reason is because Facebook is investing heavily in the metaverse future with over $10 billion this year alone. In fact, the company invested $150 million in immersive learning to prepare creators for developing the new meta reality.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Facebook

The name is designed to encompass all of Facebook’s apps and technologies under one brand. The purpose is to become a truly metaverse company. In layman’s terms, you’d be able to live in a Facebook world. Instead of scrolling through posts, you’d actually hang out virtually with friends, go to work meetings (using Horizon Workrooms), watch movies together, attend events, and much more. Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be known as where you go to step into the metaverse.

Since Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are all keeping their names, what does Meta even mean? The original Facebook brand also included devices and other platforms, such as Portal and Oculus Quest, with future devices in the works. Currently, the company’s at work creating a universal account system that’ll work with all Meta properties, so you won’t be required to have a Facebook account.

Project Cambria, which is a mixed-reality headset, and Nazaré, which a re AR glasses, are just two of the new projects Meta is working on. While the concept of AR glasses isn’t new, it’ll be interesting to see how Meta might be able to make these far more popular than Google Glass.

It’s all more conceptual right now than reality. Rebranding to Meta is just the start. While some feel it’s just a way to distract from all the negative news about Facebook in the last several years, it could be that Zuckerberg doesn’t want to miss out on an emerging and already popular market. It’s worth taking a look at the official announcement to see what Zuckerberg is envisioning.

Facebook’s Not Alone in Investing in the Metaverse

Facebook is far from the only or even the first to invest in the metaverse concept. As mentioned before, Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite have already invested in the future and players already get to experience the metaverse for themselves.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Fortnite

Epic Games, which is the company behind Fortnite, has helped users attend concerts virtually with artists such as Travis Scott and Ariana Grande. You could even step back in time to experience the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech from Martin Luther King Jr.

To make gaming even more realistic, Epic’s working on creating photorealistic avatars using MetaHuman Creator. The beta launched in April 2021. The tool helps platforms create “digital humans” in around an hour. Imagine being able to go to a concert with a few friends without ever leaving your home, yet all of you look exactly like yourselves and not the typical cartoonish animated avatar. This is what Epic’s investing in.

Obviously, Microsoft isn’t about to be left out of the metaverse. The tech giant is adding metaverse features to Microsoft Teams as early as 2022. This will include virtual avatars and holograms, which will allow teams to meet in real time at a virtual office or other virtual locations.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Microsoft

Microsoft’s also working on creating full 3D workplaces and retail environments. This would allow employees and customers to interact together in a more realistic environment but from the comfort of home, a local coffee shop, or anywhere with a good Internet connection.

Of course, Minecraft was already creating the metaverse long before Facebook or Epic Games. Instead of relying on VR, AR, and headset devices, you could just play on any compatible device. Plus, the game took a different approach. You create or join an existing metaverse. There isn’t just a single metaverse world – it’s a constantly growing collection of metaverses.

Stepping into the Metaverse

More and more companies are jumping onboard the metaverse train. Everyone wants to be the first to offer the most immersive, fun, and useful experiences possible. But, what can you actually do in the metaverse?

Some of the top examples right now involve video games or game developers. But you can do far more than just play games with friends or random strangers around the world.

After remote work became the new norm for millions in 2020, you may already realize how lonely and strange the experience can be if you’re used to working with others all day long. In a metaverse world, remote work may mean you stay at home but still go to meetings, gather at the watercooler during breaks, get together to hangout with co-workers after work, and even work side by side on big projects. Naturally, this is all virtual, but you get the benefits of remote work and actually being at work at the same time.

While VR and AR have already been used to help with training in various fields, training becomes far more in depth and realistic thanks to fully virtual worlds. Soldiers can train together and practice scenarios safely, for instance.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Fitness

The metaverse can transform nearly any experience, including how you exercise. Hate the gym? No problem. Step into a virtual studio to attend a fitness class without ever leaving home and get real-time feedback from instructors. Attend classes at any university and even gather in study groups without being on a campus.

The metaverse offers the chance to do nearly anything virtually. Attend concerts, explore museums, travel the world, celebrate holidays, experience major events in history, browse store shelves, and much more.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is another area affected by the metaverse. Grayscale, a crypto company, estimates the metaverse could be a $1 trillion industry in years to come. Part of the appeal could come in the form of cryptocurrency. For instance, try your luck in virtual casinos with other real players. Win and lose real crypto.

Art galleries, celebrities, and brands are all launching NFTs, letting users buy unique digital goods. Much like real items, value can increase over time, making these popular investments for people. Anyone can hold concerts, accepting cryptocurrency as payment.

Of course, virtual platforms often have their own currencies, which users can trade out for real money or use on other platforms that accept various crypto. There is a wide variety of metaverse games in the blockchain space that you can play right now.

Some metaverse platforms are also taking a lesson from cryptocurrency and creating decentralized platforms where users own everything versus a single company owning it, like Meta would own its metaverse.

What Is Metaverse And What Does It Have To Do With Facebook Decentraland

For example, Decentraland is a virtual world owned by players. You can buy and sell virtual plots of land, a form of NFT, using MANA, which is cryptocurrency based on the Ethereum blockchain. In fact, one plot of land sold for $2.43 million. This shows just how valuable metaverse property is becoming.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need special equipment or software to be a part of the metaverse?

It all depends on which part of the metaverse or which company owns it. For instance, with Meta, you may need one of the company’s special headsets or glasses.

On the other hand, you can play Fortnite, create your own games in Roblox, create your own personal metaverse in Minecraft, or step into a virtual life in Second Life without any special equipment outside of a computer, mobile device, or gaming console.

Mainly, you’ll need a strong high-speed Internet connection.

2. What is mixed-reality?

While the metaverse relies heavily on VR and AR, mixed-reality is a more commonly used term for many metaverse experiences. This is where the virtual and real worlds meet. For instance, something as simple as an Instagram filter is considered mixed-reality.

A more extreme example is holographic 3D avatars. For instance, a friend may “appear” in your living room as a holographic version of themselves. Or a school may use holographic models to help students learn to work on machinery.

3. Can I live and work in the metaverse?

Technically, yes. In fact, that’s how some companies envision the future. You won’t need to leave home to go to work or meet with friends. In reality, you’ll always need to live in the real world at least some of the time.

However, it’s becoming more normal to have remote doctor appointments, virtual therapy sessions, and virtual meetings.

As shown in examples throughout this article, some people do make a full-time living just in metaverse worlds by creating digital goods or hosting virtual experiences, such as concerts and speaking engagements.

4. When will the metaverse become the norm?

That’s harder to answer. It’s already normal in many ways, such as gaming. But, it could still be years before it’s just as normal to go to a virtual concert as an in-person concert. As the technology behind the metaverse changes, experiences in the metaverse will feel more real, which will lead to higher adoption rates.

Images credit: Flickr/BrotherUK, Microsoft

Crystal Crowder
Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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