How significant is the influence of the metaverse? Will it change our habits and online activity significantly, or can it be incorporated into the current trajectory of tech development?
The metaverse has the potential to be a game-changer, affecting everything from mobile slots to the latest virtual reality (VR) tech. Technically, we already have the technologies it needs to function, but the main issue holding it back is that many technologies don’t share a common platform.
So, what is the metaverse, exactly? And which technologies need to be integrated for it to succeed?
Defining the metaverse
The metaverse allows its users to create a digital identity. Theoretically, this ‘avatar’ will be able to access any digital platform, regardless of which company owns it. It also allows users to transfer digital assets between these platforms with no restrictions.
For this dream to become a reality, platform developers must embrace integration, which is a tough sell when you consider how competitive the tech industry is.
As a basic example, let’s say you’re a metaverse user and you’re on a platform owned by a tech giant. You just bought a digital asset on that platform, like a car or a clothing item. In the current tech landscape, you would have to accept that your purchase could only be used on that specific platform.
You wouldn’t be able to use that asset on another platform, and that’s precisely when the biggest challenge for the metaverse rears its head. See, the metaverse wants digital personas that can be carried across platforms, and the tech industry isn’t one to take the sharing of platforms lightly.
Firstly, it goes against the competitive nature of the industry. Secondly, it would mean that proprietary tech would have to be shared between multi-billion dollar companies.
Several tech giants are contemplating this conundrum as we speak. The main issue holding many companies back is that if they agree to all share the metaverse, won’t that make the owner of the metaverse the one who comes out on top?
The answer depends on various factors, the most important of which is the integration aspect. How do we get all these technologies and platforms to work together seamlessly when they’re owned by entirely different companies with distinct design philosophies?
If we can reach an optimum level of tech integration and find common ground for these tech companies, the metaverse may yet become the way of the future. But which technologies require integration? Let’s take a look at the three most prominent tech types relevant to our discussion.
The immersive nature of the metaverse would be impossible without extended reality (XR) tech. XR is an umbrella term for VR, augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).
Devices granting access to the metaverse must have at least some form of XR capability. Still, some XR devices are less practical than others. VR is still expensive in the grand scheme of things, and only focusing on affordability can make it the primary platform for mass adoption.
On the other hand, AR devices (like your smartphone) are affordable but aren’t as immersive as their VR counterparts. Only time will tell which XR category wins out in the end. We may end up with a combination of XR devices, essentially leaving the choice up to the individual.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another key area of tech for the metaverse. It has the potential to affect multiple aspects of the metaverse, from avatar creation all the way through to world generation.
Through machine learning and data analysis, AI can streamline the experience for the user. It can collect biometric data and build databases, translate languages automatically, and even measure our patterns of behavior.
Ultimately, AI is highly versatile and can improve the efficiency of numerous metaverse systems. However, there’s simply no way of knowing what the extent of AI’s influence will be. For all we know, it could end up running the entire system.
Digital currency could have a massive role to play in the metaverse. Cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been around for a few years now, but they’re yet to cross over into the realm of ‘accepted norms.’
The decentralized nature of crypto might be just what the metaverse needs. After all, the main concern right now is the lack of control for platform providers and the end user. Corporations and conglomerates will be the ones holding all the proverbial cards, especially when it comes to the control of information.
If NFTs and crypto coins, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, can facilitate safe and secure transactions, then we won’t have to worry about currency conversions and international trade policies. Everyone will have the same payment system, making the cross-platform integration of goods and services far easier to accomplish.