What is the metaverse?

That’s the big question because different people and different companies define the metaverse differently. For some, it’s the next evolution of virtual and augmented reality. For most, it’s an immersive internet that you are part of.

Meta (formerly Facebook) did not create the metaverse. Some think the metaverse was a concept that Zuckerberg and others came up with but that simply isn’t true. The term metaverse can be traced back to Neal Stephenson and his dystopian novel Snow Crash. The novel was released in 1992. In this book, the metaverse is a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and the internet.

Metaverse is such a vague and complex term. The term doesn’t refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift in how we interact with technology.

The technologies that make up the metaverse can include virtual reality—characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you’re not playing—as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. In addition, accessing the metaverse is not exclusive to VR and AR, it can be accessed through PCs, game consoles, and smartphones.

Why is there so much buzz about it?

The metaverse translates to a new digital economy, where users can create, buy, and sell goods. There are aspirations to make the metaverse interoperable, allowing you to take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another. In the real world, you can buy a shirt from the store and then wear it to a movie theater. Right now, most platforms have virtual identities, avatars, and inventories that are tied to that specific platform, but a metaverse might allow you to create a persona that you can take everywhere as easily as you can copy your profile picture from one social network to another.

There will be a multitude of ways to generate revenue in the metaverse:

  • Selling the hardware you need to access it.
  • Selling the bandwidth you need to enjoy it.
  • Selling virtual products. People will be able to curate and collect items in their metaverse.
  • Selling real estate you’ll want to own in this world. World’s first digital NFT house sells for $500K.
  • Traveling to destinations instantly. Imagine sharing a joint Disney experience with extended family that’s at home while you’re physically at Disney World with your family.

Whatever the metaverse becomes is up to the technologists, futurists, and visionaries. We are at the very early stages. I’m sure some promises will fall short… and in other cases, will deliver experiences beyond our dreams.