The world of technology is constantly changing. We grew up in a world where the largest companies were General Motors, General Electric, and Exxon. Today, they are Apple, Microsoft, and Meta. There is a lot going on in the technology world, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of everything. And now everyone is speculating on how the Metaverse will change everything (except that no one is sure what “Metaverse” is).
The term “metaverse” is now everywhere, from Fortnite discussions to the pages of the New York Times to Mark Zuckerberg’s speeches, where he said in June 2021 that Facebook’s “overarching goal” is to “bring the metaverse to life.” Metaverse has become one of the buzzwords of 2021, and search trends also indicate the same.
Google Search Trends data for “Metaverse” in the past 12 months:
So what is Metaverse?
Nearly three decades after sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson coined the term, the Metaverse is becoming more real. While it is still a vague concept, many view the metaverse as the next phase of the internet, where online experiences will merge to create an immersive virtual experience.
Today, the majority of people view Metaverse as a fantasy, comparable to video games, and it is commonly mislabeled as virtual reality. Some games, such as Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox, may resemble the Metaverse because they blend so many technologies and trends into a unified experience. They, however, do not constitute the Metaverse.
Benedict Evans, a well-renowned technology analyst quoted that “crypto is being re-branded as Web3” and “AR/VR is being re-branded as Metaverse”.
Metaverse is not a game or a virtual environment where you may socialise. Instead, think of the Metaverse as a type of successor state to the mobile internet. The metaverse will be a way to blend the physical and digital worlds while allowing us to be completely present in either — it’s the real world, AR, VR, and the internet all wrapped into one where users will be able to connect with others, shop, play games, and attend events virtually.
Why is Metaverse significant?
We are turning into a digital-first species while rejecting institutions. These two factors are combined to make work more decentralised and creative, therefore driving the creator economy and enabling anybody to innovate using technology. Taylor Swift’s recent battle to own her art and the r/WallStreetBets feud with Wall Street over GameStop are two notable examples. The creator economy is a reaction to broken and rigged career paths.
This ideology will be carried over to the next generation of the internet: Web3 and the Metaverse will finally fulfil the internet’s promise of eliminating gatekeepers and allowing creators and their communities to capture and share value, leading to the formation of thriving digital economies. This will eventually result in an immersive, decentralised Metaverse.
So how far have we come?
With each passing day, Metaverse appears to grow more real than a dream. Recent advances in Web3 and NFTs have accelerated the development of the Metaverse. But it’s been a long trip to get here:
Though millions of dollars have been invested (and lost) in numerous projects (such as Second Life and EVE Online) to get here, we still have a long way to go.
Today, businesses are banking on the buzz by developing new customer engagement in the Metaverse to sell more products, fintech is capitalising on new financial demands, and a flood of startups are inventing totally new virtual products, running the gamut from avatars to crypto-collectables.
The Metaverse market map below breaks down 100+ companies that are building the foundational blocks of the Metaverse.
Where do we go from here?
The Metaverse will not evolve in the same way that the internet did. Government agencies, research labs, and non-profits built the internet with open standards because they were effectively the only ones with the computational talent, resources, and ambitions to develop a World Wide Web at the time, and few in the industry saw its economic potential. When it comes to the Metaverse, none of this holds true.
The majority of Metaverse research and development is driven by corporations, who are building a walled garden wherein they behave in their own best interests. For example, all video game console operating systems that are required to use console hardware today have chosen not to support open or third-party rendering API libraries such as OpenGL or WebGL. Instead, Windows/Xbox use DirectX, PlayStation uses GNMX, and Apple uses Metal.
This strategy severely restricts Metaverse adoption, and in order for Metaverse to realise its full potential, we will require an ecosystem of ‘interchange’ solutions that interconnect, and exchange data between competing platforms. Over the last decade, a variety of interchange solutions have evolved to mitigate the difficulties and cost of multiplatform development while also limiting the supremacy of dominant platforms. Unreal Engine and Unity are two outstanding examples of cross-platform gaming engines. These independent cross-platform engines have massive influence as they provide unified backend infrastructure capabilities to publishers, and because of cross-platform play, every platform will compete on hardware, content, and services rather than lock-in.
Even though software delivers the actual experience, a large part of the experience is dependent on the actual hardware, which requires better sensors, longer battery life, advanced haptics, vibrant displays, sharper cameras, and so on to enhance the experience. Not only this but there are several other hardware issues that remain to be resolved. XR headsets are yet another fantastic example of hardware innovation and unmet needs. The resolution of the Original Oculus (2016) was 1080x1200 per eye, whereas the Oculus Quest 2 (2020) has a resolution of 1832x1920 per eye. Palmer Luckey, one of Oculus’ founders, believes more than twice this resolution is required for VR to overcome pixelation and become a mainstream device.
The majority of these challenges are deep-tech in nature, and the paradigm shift can only be accomplished by extensively investing in deep-tech. We at Inflexor are looking for ambitious founders to bring the metaverse to life sooner. Please feel free to contact us if you are a deep-tech startup working on Metaverse.