What’s the metaverse all about?
March 21st, 2023

Still under construction as an ever-evolving work in progress, and therefore problematic to define, the absolute metaverse doesn’t really exist yet.

The metaverse could be described as a combination of different types of technologies which include Virtual Reality (VR) in which virtual worlds continue to exist even without an individual’s involvement, or augmented reality (AR) which combines facets of the physical and digital worlds – basically, a world unconstrained by the physical one where the opportunities for activities and socialising are practically limitless.

However, that’s not to say that access to the metaverse is, or will become, available exclusively through VR or AR. Phones, games consoles and PCs may also enable access to virtual environments.

Currently, entry to the metaverse is through a VR headset enabling navigation through voice commands, feedback controllers, or eye movements. Total immersion gives the sensation of being present in the virtual environment through avatars.

And it’s not just for gaming – massive capability is there for virtual sports events, concerts, and particularly for education, training, medicine, housing and other services.

The metaverse is also considered to have potential as an environment for a thriving digital economy involving the creation and commerce of virtual goods – consider Nike’s virtual Air Jordans, for example. The world of digital fashion and NFTs is growing more popular and hence more profitable.

Depending on whether it’s for use with a PC or gaming console, stand alone or cabled, transformative, cutting edge VR headsets are available, and phenomenal innovation is ongoing.

However, despite all this, consumers appear reticent to embrace the use of VR, traction is slow, and the imagined VR revolution is surely yet to materialise. Although VR headsets are increasing in popularity, adoption has not taken off as anticipated.

It seems that the barriers still boil down to a few historical concerns, particularly concerning frequent use. People canfeel disturbed about a sense of disconnection to the outside world once immersed in VR, and while that escapism is a draw for some, it can engender a sense of unease in others. Actual physical discomfort from neck pain can be an issue, and feelings of motion sickness in some users is well known.

So, is AR a better option for the burgeoning metaverse? It certainly allows other devices such as phones to enable users to access the digitally enhanced physical world as more of a crossover space where they don’t feel disconnected, physical comfort is reduced and motion-sickness mitigated.

How the actual metaverse vision unfolds is yet to be seen, but the era of immersive media, though not really as yet widespread, is becoming ever closer, and for many businesses the possibilities for transformative opportunities are just beginning.

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