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Facebook has just announced that it will hire 10,000 people in Europe to develop the “metaverse.”
But what exactly is this concept that is grabbing more and more headlines, concentrating more investment from big tech companies and being described as the next great frontier of the digital world?
It is still an idea in development and to someone outside the industry it might just seem like an enhanced version of virtual reality (VR).
But experts say it will be to VR what smartphones were, in terms of technological revolution, to the rudimentary first smartphones.
This virtual universe would be accessed with a VR viewer and probably with a 3D avatar, and it would connect all kinds of digital environments.
Unlike current virtual reality, which is used mainly for video games, the metaverse would be used for all kinds of activities: work, games, concerts, movies or just to hang out.
Why suddenly became important?
Interest in digital worlds and augmented reality resurfaces from time to time.
And now there is great enthusiasm for the metaverse among the investors with big capital and lthe giants from technological. Nobody wants to be left behind if it turns out to be the one future of internet.
Furthermore, for the first time there is a feeling that the necessary technology is almost ready, with advances in virtual reality games and connectivity.
Why is Facebook involved?
Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its top priorities.
You have invested a lot in virtual reality through your device Oculus, which is cheaper than its rivals.
According to analysts, the price could be causing losses to the company, which in return gets the viewer of its brand reach more people.
You are also creating virtual reality applications for social gatherings and for the workplace, including those that allow you to interact with the real world.
Despite its history of acquiring rival companies, Facebook claims that the metaverse “It will not be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate with the sector.
It has recently invested $ 50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly.”
Although the social network believes that it will take between 10 and 15 years to consolidate.
Tim Sweeney, the director of Epic Games (owner of Fortnite), has been talking about his aspirations in relation to this technology for some time.
Online multiplayer games have shared interactive worlds for decades.
They are not the metaverse, but they have some ideas in common with it.
In recent years, Fortnite expanded its product, organized concerts, brand events and much more within your own digital world.
Other video games are also getting closer to a metaverse idea.
Roblox, for example, is a platform with thousands of games they are connected to a single larger ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Unity, a 3D development platform, is investing in “digital twins”, digital copies of the real world.
And graphics company Nvidia is building its “Omniverse,” which it describes as a platform for connecting 3D virtual worlds.
Then,it’s about video games?
Although there are different ideas about what the metaverse could be, most see human social interaction as the core of everything.
Facebook, for example, has been experimenting with a virtual reality meeting app called Workplace and a social space called Horizons in which avatars are used.
Another virtual reality app, VRChat, focuses entirely on hang out on line and chat, with no other objective or purpose other than exploring environments and meeting people.
And there may be a whole host of possible applications yet to be discovered.
Along these lines, Sweeney recently told The Washington Post that imagines a world in which an automobile manufacturer trying to advertise a new model “lends his car to the virtual world and lets it drive.”
Maybe when go shopping online, First you try on the clothes in digital version and then you order them to arrive in the real world.
Does the technology already exist to develop it?
Virtual reality has come a long way in recent years.
exist high-end devices that can fool the eye human to see in 3D as the player moves through a virtual world.
It’s also become more common: the virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Quest 2 was a popular Christmas gift 2020.
The explosion of interest in NFTs, which can provide a way to reliably track the ownership of digital goods, could be one example of how a virtual economy would work.
And more advanced digital worlds will need better, more consistent, and more mobile connectivity, something that could resolved with the launch of 5G.
For now, however, it’s all in an early stage.
The evolution of the metaverse, if it occurs, will be fought among the tech giants over the next decade, or maybe even more.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.