Metaverse has undergone a long evolution from its initial concept stage, powered by frequent innovations by corporations all over the world. The possibilities of the effortless switching between real-world lives and VR immersion have fuelled its rapid growth. Another key ingredient that has made the development of metaverse a reality is the operating platform lying underneath cryptocurrencies- blockchain technology.
What is a Metaverse?
The metaverse revolves around a virtual environment that facilitates interactions with other community members, mimicking real life. Participants can enter the metaverse using AR/VR headsets, customize their persona(avatar), make transactions through cryptocurrencies, and many more. Cryptocurrencies and digital assets are used for buying/selling.
The term “Metaverse” originated from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. Major tech corporations all over the world are deeply involved in metaverse research, with Meta(previously known as Facebook) being one of the biggest investors with assets exceeding $10 billion allocated towards metaverse research. Other major players include Nvidia, Epic Games, Roblox, Microsoft, and more.
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The Metaverse Potential
Not only major corporations, but nations worldwide are also investing heavily in metaverse development. Saudi Arabia recently held a LEAP technology forum in Riyadh which saw multi-billion dollar investments in the metaverse. Digital assets drive the metaverse’s working economy, which blockchain is the technology powering the entire operations. The future looks even brighter, with projections estimating the market to surpass $800 billion within 2024.
Independent developments across the metaverse are currently converging on improving the virtual 3D immersive experience. Along with this human co-experience, designers are prioritizing an additional element- the factor of social impact. On a nascent scale, metaverse experience is rather boring from a one-on-one perspective. Metaverse will enable users to enjoy a social experience in VR, complete with immersive interaction with other persons. This will create a whole new market segment featuring metaverse headphones, accessories, and gadgets. Built upon decentralized blockchain technology, the metaverse features democratization, empowering the user with global visibility. In addition, the user experience improves significantly thanks to collective creativity.
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The possibilities of metaverse applications are endless. A 3D virtual environment can house as many features of the real world as necessary, resulting in uses across sectors such as:
a) Virtual Meta-Office
The metaverse can be developed to create a virtual office environment, and include employees working from remote locations, using avatars. Both Microsoft and Facebook have developed 3D workrooms for office purposes, though the results are still in the prototype stage.
b) Meta-Education Centers
The metaverse can address the challenges of online education, offering a more immersive and global learning experience for students. Teachers can also enjoy an enhanced teaching experience.
c) Metaverse Real Estate
The metaverse has numerous opportunities across the real estate industry. It can offer a 3D virtual tour of the premises to prospective clients, even from distant locations. In addition, virtual real estate in Decentraland and other metaverse games are highly sought after, being sold at record-breaking prices.
d) Retail Applications
Retail businesses can incorporate their services and offerings into the metaverse, providing consumers with an immersive virtual experience.
Metaverse in the E-Commerce Sector
The E-commerce segment will witness significant metaverse disruption in the upcoming years. The sector still operating on Web 2.0 technology will be transformed with the 3D-VR space offering better scope for user engagement and immersion through permissionless interactions.
The aspect of social interaction will act as a booster for the e-commerce segment further aided by cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based applications. Blockchain’s direct P2P transaction mechanism across the internet assures the safety of cross-border instantaneous fund settlement at a negligible cost. Object proprietorship is assured through non-fungible tokens(NFT), or digital collectibles.
The Role of Blockchain Digital Identity
Among the invaluable merits of blockchain implementation, digital identity stands out the most. The innovations brought forward by blockchain allow users to protect their crypto assets in the VR space offering them proof of ownership. Metaverse developers universally acknowledge blockchain being the functional platform upon which future innovations will be built.
In reality, a person has a unique identity that is distinctly his/her own, even while migrating cross-borders. The challenge in the digital world lies in preserving the identity as users shift between platforms instead of creating a new profile from zero. In addition, the ownership of the data lies in the hands of big tech corporations in Web 2,0, whereas the upcoming Web 3.0 technology will bestow the power in the hands of the creators.
The relevance of this feature is especially more significant across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others. The ownership of all information provided on a social media platform at present does not reside in the user’s hands, but rather the property of the corporation. A company can easily delete a profile they deem unfit for their liking, or discretely sell the information stored.
The metaverse works using alternate Web 3.0 and blockchain solutions which facilitate data interoperability while safeguarding ownership and identity. Decentralization also enables hassle-free work processes without the need for central supervision. Cryptocurrencies power the internal metaverse economies, resulting in a comprehensive solution for the most relevant challenges at present.
Without a doubt, the metaverse is one of the most hyped upcoming innovations in the field of technology, despite being in a developmental stage. Experts in the field remark while the technical challenges may be addressed sooner or later, AR/VR hardware remains the main constraint. The architects in the metaverse community are working towards creating environments that inspire creativity and contribution from the user end. And, blockchain lies at the core of these operations, offering a foundation that allocates ownership and interoperability to the hands of users.