What Is The Metaverse? Its Meaning And What You Should Know

What Is The Metaverse ? Meaning And What You Should Know it? Virtual World ? Virtual Reality ?


The term ‘metaverse’ is a portmanteau that combines the worlds ‘meta’ and ‘universe.’ It is used primarily to refer to an anticipated future iteration of the internet that’s often hailed as Web 3.0. This evolution of the internet is expected to see the rise of online 3-D or virtually integrated environments that provide users access to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

What Is The Metaverse?

The metaverse refers to both current and future integrated digital platforms focused on virtual and augmented reality. It is widely hyped as the internet’s next frontier and seen as a significant business and financial opportunity for the tech industry and other sectors.

In the vision for the metaverse articulated by social media and technology companies, devices like virtual reality headsets, digital glasses, smartphones, and other devices will allow users access to 3-D virtual or augmented reality environments where they can work, connect with friends, conduct business, visit remote locations, and access educational opportunities, all in an environment mediated by technology in new and immersive ways.

The metaverse is not just one type of experience. Instead, it refers to a continuum of immersive digital experiences that will be available to users in the future and which will allow them to engage in a range of different activities in completely digital spaces. That could mean participating in a massive virtual reality multiplayer game accessed through a VR headset or experiencing integrated digital and physical spaces such as location-specific immersive digital content from business users who are visiting via digital glasses or smartphones.


The metaverse therefore isn’t one digital space but a number of digital spaces and experiences currently being created by companies to offer more realistic and immersive digital experiences. The technology has a range of potential functionalities from augmented reality collaboration platforms that can enable better collaboration and integration to work productivity platforms for remote teams that might, for example, allow real estate agents to host virtual home tours.


Currently, some aspects of the metaverse are integrated into existing internet-enabled video games such as Second Life, Minecraft, and Fortnite. These games offer immersive social and virtual experiences that have a persistent virtual world in which players from around the world can engage simultaneously. While not synonymous with virtual reality, the metaverse will offer more of this type of virtual reality experience.


Many social media and tech companies such as Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft are investing heavily in Social VR with the goal of creating platforms where people can connect socially or work remotely via platforms like Microsoft Teams.


Note: The technologies needed to fully operationalize the vision for the metaverse have yet to be created and the willingness of companies and individuals to adopt metaverse technologies remains to be seen. Many critics are skeptical that there is a demand for an expansion of the internet into VR, a technology that has mostly failed to live up to its hype and revenue expectations thus far, and other critics are concerned about the privacy and health implications of the metaverse vision.


Metaverse Terms To Know

1. Virtual World

A virtual world is a simulated environment that can be accessed by many users who can explore the world simultaneously and independently through the use of an avatar. The virtual world presents perceptual data to the user while also including the real time actions and communications of other users along with their movements and gravity.


Massive multiplayer online games use virtual worlds to allow players to do things like build and change the world and travel between spaces within the world. Those behind the metaverse believe virtual worlds can have applications outside gaming including in things like collaboration software and medical care. Virtual worlds are also sometimes called synthetic worlds.


Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that’s usually provided by a virtual reality headset that projects realistic images, sounds and other sensations to a user within a virtual environment. Virtual reality is currently used for video games but could be used for virtual meetings, medical training, or military training. A person who is using virtual reality equipment is able to do things like look around a virtual world, move, and interact with objects and other users.


2. Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the integration of real and virtual worlds to create new ways to interact with physical and digital spaces and other users. In mixed reality, you are not solely in the virtual world or entirely in the real world but somewhere along the ‘virtuality continuum’ between the real and virtual environments.


Examples of mixed reality are place-specific simulations such as 3D representations of charts or concepts projected to virtual reality headsets or glasses in a university lecture or the use of augmented reality in Pokemon Go where users could see the Pokemon they found in the real world via their mobile device’s camera. Mixed reality has applications for video games, education, military training, healthcare, and the integration of humans and robotics.


3. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is similar to mixed reality in that it creates an interactive way to experience real world environments. Augmented reality often enhances the real world through digital sensory additions such as visuals, sounds, sensory data, or olfactory data. Augmented reality features an integration of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and 3D visualizations of both virtual and real objects. An example of how it might be used is to allow shoppers to visualize a product they are considering in an environment that resembles their home.


4. Virtual Economies

The term ‘virtual economy’ was first used to refer to the exchange or sale of virtual goods within online games, particularly massive multiplayer online games. In some of these games, players can buy things from each other and exchange real money for game-based money. However, virtual economies can also now incorporate crypto currencies and non-fungible tokens. Many believe that social media companies and other corporations might create their own virtual currencies in the future, although regulators might put limitations on their capacity to do so.


How Is The Metaverse Used Today?

In Fall 2021, Facebook announced that it was changing its name to Meta Platforms (FB) and investing heavily in creating metaverse experiences. In doing so, it will be leveraging its existing ownership of Oculus, a virtual reality equipment company.


Meta Platforms believes that immersive virtual reality experiences are the future way people will interact on social media. However, much of Meta’s vision is speculative and would rely on technologies and server capacity that doesn’t currently exist. It also assumes the wide-spread adoption of hardware such as VR headsets and digital glasses.



Microsoft (MSFT), meanwhile, is focused on adapting technologies it currently has for the metaverse. They have a service called Mesh, a mixed reality platform, that allows users to access augmented reality environments via their smartphone or laptop without having to buy a virtual reality headset. Microsoft also plans to integrate Microsoft Teams into the metaverse, creating a more immersive experience for remote workers and virtual meetings.


Companies like Roblox (RBLX) are creating integrative virtual experiences for gamers. Roblox is an online platform, currently focused on youngsters, where users go to play digital games. The company is hoping to expand to adult gaming.


Other companies working on metaverse projects are Nvidia Corp (NVDA) which is building an Omniverse platform that can connect 3D virtual words in a shared universe and which is currently used for creating simulations of buildings and factories. Nike (NKE) is also making a metaverse play by filing for digital trademarks of its main logos for the creation of virtual Nike sneakers and gear, and creating Nikeland on the Roblox platform, where players can play sports games.


The metaverse is expected to transform the tech sector, where many companies will be creating the architectures, hardware, and software that will power the metaverse version of Web 3.0. But it will also affect companies outside the technology sphere since the metaverse is proposing to shift things as simple as how people shop for groceries, navigate through a city, tour an apartment, and interact with businesses and ads as a consumer.


While it remains to be seen whether the visions for the metaverse will come to pass or if the health, privacy, and regulatory concerns its already generating will limit the scope of its roll-out, it has the potential to disrupt multiple industries and sectors by requiring that they spend more money on technology or compete with others to provide metaverse experiences to their consumers.


Note: Cryptocurrencies are expected to take advantage of the metaverse with Grayscale CEO, Michael Sonnenshein, saying that the metaverse presents a potential $1 trillion in annual revenue opportunity for the crypto world, first through virtual economies in the digital gaming world and then as the currency that could fuel other metaverse experiences.


Key takeaway: While broad implementation of the metaverse may still be months or years away, expectations surrounding its potential are already causing numerous companies to gear up, either by creating the hardware and software infrastructure to facilitate it, or by adapting their products and services to run on it.

Metaverse Examples

There are a number of companies who currently have metaverse products or services available to consumers or who have announced they are creating them. Here are some examples:


Second Life

Founded in 2003, Second Life, the once popular online massive multiplayer game, allowed players to live another life within a virtual world. The concept was an early metaverse experience created by the San Francisco firm Linden Lab, and was one of the first popular examples of the virtual economy as users bought tokens to buy things in the game.


Snapchat (SNAP) has been creating augmented reality filters since the app first launched. Their photo filters allow users to manipulate the world via their phone camera. In 2021, they launched augmented reality glasses which can be used to augment users’ experience of reality outside their app.

Epic Games

Epic Games is the creator of the popular digital game Fortnight. While the company started with video games, they have now moved to creating virtual social experiences like music concerts or dance parties. These allow users to have an immersive virtual experience.

Medical Learning

Medical learning companies are deploying virtual reality and augmented reality to disrupt medical learning, allowing for the simulation of patient and surgical interactions and allowing students to practice new techniques.


How Does Metaverse Intersect With Investing?

The metaverse offers an opportunity for many companies to disrupt industries by offering more effective or efficient ways to do things like train students or workers, provide services, advertise, and connect with friends or colleagues. Companies that find a way to deploy virtual and augmented reality effectively will likely perform well and deliver gains to their investors. However, not all metaverse visions will be successful or technically possible, and some could face hurdles from the lack of user interest, privacy regulations, security concerns, cost inefficiencies, or the physical and mental health implications of the technology.


Many startups and established companies are making metaverse plays that could offer good investment opportunities, but they are risky investments as the market is likely to overprice metaverse technology that hasn’t yet proven to be possible or to have an audience. That could lead to investment losses when those companies fail to meet their sales and growth projections. Currently, investing in the metaverse contains significant risk and requires investors to make investment choices without enough data to predict how metaverse projects will be received by customers and businesses. Investors should be wary of overinvesting in the sector and choose any metaverse investment positions carefully.


For those interested in investing in the metaverse, companies like Meta Platforms (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), Roblox (RBLX), Nike (NKE), and Nvidia (NVDA) are all investment opportunities that have or are developing metaverse-related products and services. This is not an exhaustive list.


Cryptocurrency’s connection to the metaverse remains unclear outside virtual economies in gaming — and gaming companies generally create their own tokens and currencies. There are no current crypto players poised to gain metaverse market share or who have a clear vision for how to take advantage of the shift to Web 3.0. In addition, regulatory changes for the cryptocurrency sector are still in the process of rolling out and could impact the size of the metaverse cryptocurrency opportunity significantly.


Bottom Line

While there is a lot of excitement behind the metaverse, much of that excitement seems to be from the hype put out by tech and social media companies themselves. Whether any company’s vision for the metaverse will be technologically possible or gain market share remains to be seen. Investors interested in the metaverse as an investment opportunity will need to be cautious and patient.




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