Microsoft: What is the “metaverse”?
LONDON, Oct. 18 (Reuters) – Facebook announced on Monday that it would hire 10,000 people in Europe to help it build a “metaverse”.
The concept of metaverse is quickly becoming a buzzword in tech and business. But what does that mean?
WHAT IS METAVERS?
The metaverse is a broad term. It generally refers to shared virtual world environments that people can access through the Internet.
The term can refer to digital spaces made more alive by the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).
Some people also use the word metaverse to describe game worlds, in which users have a character who can walk around and interact with other players.
There is also a specific type of metaverse that uses blockchain technology. In these, users can purchase virtual land and other digital assets using cryptocurrencies.
Many sci-fi books and films take place in full-fledged metavers – alternate digital worlds that are indistinguishable from the real physical world. But this is still fiction. Currently, most virtual spaces look more like the interior of a video game than real life.
WHY IS IT TAKING OFF?
Fans of the Metaverse see it as the next step in Internet development.
Today, people interact with each other online by going to websites such as social media platforms or by using messaging apps. The idea of the metaverse is that it will create new online spaces where people’s interactions can be more multidimensional, where users can immerse themselves in digital content rather than just view it.
The increased interest in the metaverse can be seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more people have started working and going to school remotely, there has been a growing demand for ways to make online interaction more realistic.
WHO GETS INVOLVED?
The idea of the metaverse is generating a lot of interest from investors and companies who want to be a part of the next big innovation.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in July that the company would try to transition from a social media company to a metaverse company within the next five years or so.
The term is popular in Silicon Valley, with Microsoft also mentioning the convergence of the digital and physical worlds.
Popular children’s game Roblox, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in March, describes itself as a metaverse business. Fortnite from Epic Games is also considered part of the metaverse.
Musicians can do virtual concerts within these platforms. For example, in September millions of people watched singer Ariana Grande perform virtually in Fortnite, Epic Games said.
The world’s largest fashion companies have also experimented with making virtual clothing, which people’s avatars can wear in metaverse environments. (Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by David Evans)