Metaverse: A deeper dive
Virtual worlds are a part of the metaverse, which is both the internet and a collection of 3D, game-engine driven landscapes. If you’re like most people, you’ll think that this definition already seems like a made-up term salad because it leaves out important details.
So, let’s dive a little deeper into this.
Metaverse and spatial computing
To get a sense of how the internet is changing, you need to start with the most obvious method of access: computers.
As a starting point, it’s helpful to look back at the evolution of computer interfaces. It is this human-machine interaction that I’m referring to when I use the term computer interface.
In our lifetimes, computers have gotten so easy and straightforward to use that we don’t even think about it. When programming was done in the middle of the 20th century, engineers would get into real devices and wire cables.
A new interface based on punch cards was later developed by engineers and allowed us to keep our hands off the keyboard.
Command lines (like MS-DOS) followed punch cards and allowed users to interface with the system via text input. But the graphical user interface (GUI) was the true game-changer for computers. At this point, most of us consider it “simply how they work today” that using a computer involves taking images. Everything from ATMs to ticketing machines now uses GUIs, which is why non-programmers can utilise these devices.
The point is that computers got easier to use, more accessible, and more widely available at each step of their development. In this day and age, the next great computing interface is emerging—it just doesn’t have a decent name yet. Some two-letter acronyms you’ve heard of include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and immersive computing (IC). All of these notions have one thing in common: they all utilise 3D space. That’s a major thing.
Since we are born into a three-dimensional (3D) world. We are born into a 3D world. It’s logical to assume that our brains and bodies are designed to work together in three dimensions.
These interfaces are now generally referred to as “spatial computing.” There has been a reported increase in the number of elderly people enjoying Nintendo Wii games. Swing your arms while holding a video game controller. An easy-to-learn method that everyone can master. The interface is in the form of a three-dimensional space.
In general, you should consider spatial items as having the ability to move around in three-dimensional space as well.
Metaverse building tools: Game engines
The next decade’s technology may be influenced by game engines. Developers utilise a game engine to create (and run) video games. You can upload 3D objects, impose rules for how they can move, and add sounds to these software programmes.
It’s incorrect to use the phrase “video game” in a business context, as it implies something fun and lighthearted rather than something more serious. Although game engines are powering the computing interfaces for all kinds of sectors, they are becoming increasingly important as the world becomes increasingly digital.
Also read: Web 3.0 explained for beginners
Imagine a brand-new electric car with a game engine-based user interface. The dashboard of the vehicle displays information from the vehicle’s sensors in 3D. This is what real-world spatial computing looks like.
You may hear the term “digital twin,” which refers to the idea that physical things might use their sensor data to build a software replica of themselves in a computer. This allows humans to engage with computer-generated industrial things as if they were real.
For instance, by using a digital twin in the Unity game engine, Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 1 provides a real-time glimpse of passenger activities and equipment that may need maintenance. Think of it as a 3D selfie for the terminal.
Unreal and Unity are the two most important game engines to be familiar with, however, there is a lot more going on in the field of game engines. Expect to see game engines advance at a breakneck pace over the next decade.
Graphics may no longer appear like “graphics” by the end of this decade. In the near future, we’ll be able to experience photorealistic virtual settings that resemble the real world. As a result, you should endeavour to see through the cartoonish image that much of today’s metaverse coverage will imbue in your mind.
As an example, think of Beyond Sports, a Dutch business that uses Unity and real-time location data obtained from sports to display live events as they happen within virtual reality. We’re getting closer to what we might be doing in the metaverse in ten years when we can roam around within a game with our buddies.
When it comes to popular coverage of the metaverse, spatial computing and gaming engines are where it all begins.
When we log on to the internet in the future, we’ll be doing so in virtual surroundings. In addition, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what they are. Discord (an online messaging platform) and Twitter, in many respects, are already virtual spaces where people interact and exchange information.
Let us focus on virtual worlds produced in game engines, and there are two types to investigate. Real-world augmented reality (think Pokemon Go) is the first step.
Second, there are the more typical online or entirely digital virtual environments that require the use of a computer (or a VR headset) in order to enter, but this difference is arbitrary and already disappearing.
The use of AR in the real world is exemplified by Pokémon Go. 3D characters are placed on top of the real world in a spatial game made with Unity. If so, does it indicate that Pokémon Go can be considered a part of the metaverse? As it is, the current definition is vague and difficult to understand.
Metaverse will not be a random collection of game worlds created by developers, as previously thought. Even the entire world and even your car will be digitally replicated in a similar way in the future. In the future, you may be able to sit in your backyard with your family and interact with them virtually, or you may be able to wear a virtual reality headset and travel to different places in real-time.
Talking about how games like Fortnite and Roblox are nascent metaverse experiences is also a popular trend in metaverse discussion. While they appear to be games, they are actually places where people gather and increasingly attend Travis Scott or Lil Nas X performances.
When all of these experiences (such as Beyond Sports, Pokémon Go, Fortnite, and Roblox) are integrated into a single metaverse, it will be like the internet but for something, you can do.
It’s safe to predict that, like the majority of businesses today, the majority of businesses in the future will have some sort of 3D virtual environment. When it comes to real-world activities like travelling to a concert or hanging out with friends, we’re decreasing the gap by using spatial computing, gaming engines and virtual environments like these.
Virtual economies in the metaverse
Fortnite, a free-to-play game, raked in $9 billion in revenue between 2018 and 2019. How? They provide virtual apparel, dancing techniques, and other products that allow gamers to express themselves in a number of ways in the game. It may be argued that the metaverse is nothing more than a massive online fashion industry.
If you think that seems ridiculous or bizarre, think about how someone meticulously arranges their outfits or their LinkedIn profile photo. It’s important to us how we present ourselves to others. If we’re going to spend more time online, it’s not so crazy to think that people will want to refine their metaverse presence as well.
And how do NFTs fit into this? NFTs provide the infrastructure to let people take control of this virtual property, among other things.
For this reason, NFTs and the metaverse are often seen as one and the same, as they are seen as the infrastructure that facilitates the exchange of information and assets in virtual markets.
To be clear, there isn’t consensus on this yet. Many platforms, including Fortnite, have been able to function without NFTs. Although NFT/crypto is one of the noisiest areas on the internet because of its fast speed, novelty, and an obscene amount of funding.
This is the uncharted territory of online life, where we are creating it as we go. In the early stages of this, there are some interesting projects, but whether or not NFTs power a dematerialized system of capitalism misses the point that NFTs are likely more essential than simply “owning goods.”