Mark Zuckerberg recently shocked the world by introducing Meta—a rebranding of the Facebook Company, whose goal is to ultimately be seen as a metaverse company.

So what is Metaverse? In a nutshell, the Metaverse is a digital universe made up of interconnected spaces on the internet, filled with 3D customizable avatars that interact with the environment and each other. 

It sounds promising when distilled into a single statement, but will this change the way we interact on a whole new level? Is this the next step for internet social connectivity? Let’s discuss what’s got everybody excited and explore what the Metaverse is, how it works, and what lies in its future. 

Origins of the Metaverse

The idea of the Metaverse, as it is thought of now, was first mentioned in the sci-fi novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It was through this book that a lot of the tech industry’s giants found their direction, with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg just two of the examples of those that were influenced by it.

The idea of virtual reality, though, existed even before that novel. In 1932, the first-ever mention of virtual realities was seen in The Theatre of Cruelty (First Manifesto) by Antonin Artaud. 

Over the next few decades, the concept of virtual reality would be combined with theories of what computers might be able to accomplish.

How the Metaverse works

How the Metaverse works

The Metaverse is the next step to all the developments in the augmented and virtual reality space—something we saw in the presentation given by Mark Zuckerberg where he showed us the potential these two technologies have. It aims to revolutionize how people meet, engage in social activities, and basically do most, if not all, the things they do in real life virtually. So what technologies are involved in making this possible?

Metaverse works by recreating and remodeling real-world things into a digital space that can connect different spaces, allowing people to explore unique yet familiar environments. Think of it as something similar to the world of the film Wreck-it Ralph 2 where different avatars are able to interact with each other and the environment.

That said, it should be understood that the Metaverse and all its potential developments rely on more than just AR and VR. Aside from these headset technologies, other technologies that have a role to play in the Metaverse are the following: 

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

With all the data that’s set to be collected and distributed across the Metaverse, developers will need to make use of A.I. and machine learning where they can. 

A.I. and Machine Learning will help developers sort and apply data in batches and in real-time by teaching the software to organize and apply data where it might be needed. This is necessary if people want a seamless online experience for better immersion.

Data here doesn’t necessarily mean personal data. This could mean data from environmental sensors, data from population servers, and even data concerning who lives where and who owns what.

Internet of Things

The Internet of things (IoT) describes the network between devices within a locale, allowing them to communicate with each other through sensors and the internet. With IoT, people are able to control lights, air conditioning, and locks from their smartphones. 

This technology can be appropriated in the Metaverse, letting the environment shift quickly according to real-world scenarios. Say there’s a storm in your area at the moment, Metaverse can take this into consideration and integrate it into your virtual environment. Shifting this technology to cater to the Metaverse is one way to improve immersion and the total experience.

3D modeling and reconstruction

Seeing as all this would be happening virtually, 3D modelers will have their work cut out for them. People should expect to see digital recreations of real-world structures in the Metaverse. 

Both of these considerations are already progressing thanks to the developments in the video game industry. Unreal Engine 5, for example, is already allowing filmmakers to make use of 3D virtual environments to aid them in their work.

But that’s not to say that people had attempted to create their own Metaverse prior to today’s technology. As early as 2003, Linden Labs successfully created Second Life, an online Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) that allowed users to create avatars, shop, explore, and interact with one another. 

How NFTs tie into the Metaverse

As people migrate to their online lives, they will need things inside their digital world to personalize their home or character. Can you see where this is going? Imagine, as you live a life in a digital suburb, your character will need clothes, a car, and decor to make it feel like an actual home. 

This is where non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can come into play. Take Decentraland for example, a currently-operating online world where users can buy plots of land by buying them as NFTs. These NFTs, called MANA, act as proof of ownership thanks to the non-fungibility of NFTs.

Since NFTs can be assigned as tokens, this makes them ideal for digital assets that can be applied to Metaverse. This could become what we now have as certificates of ownership, doubling as a record of ownership. Even now, in the physical world, NFTs are already making artists money by helping them sell their art online.

This advantage with NFTs has already allowed projects like Built with NFT to gain traction. This project under the partnership of Built with Bitcoin (BWB) and Satoshibles is directing ETH towards humanitarian projects by selling NFTs produced by BWB students in Rwanda, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The current state of the Metaverse

The aforementioned Decentraland, as well as the Sandbox, are some of the more progressive Metaverse examples when it comes to integrating NFTs. In these games, users can mine, or add liquidity, to earn more coins all while playing and building. This money-making angle is what helps these games gain popularity. 

Already, we are seeing more examples of this technology at play, with the simplest forms present in games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the most complex recently being demonstrated by Facebook and Microsoft.

Microsoft’s approach revolves around the workplace. With more offices adopting work from home (WFH) practices, developers are looking for ways people can efficiently meet online. Microsoft’s Metaverse would have office spaces recreated and reimagined digitally, allowing teams to get creative while improving productivity.

Facebook, meanwhile, would focus on the social networking aspect. Avatars are playfully animated, and customizability and interactivity take priority over other features, not that they’re lacking.

How to make money with Metaverse

Considering how we are only now talking about Metaverse and crypto as a large-scale operation, you can easily see how investing in it as soon as possible might be a great idea. Don’t worry though, considering how fresh so much of this is, you are bound to find an investment that interests you. 

Traditional investors might prefer investing in the companies involved with the development of Metaverse technology. Understandably, Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) takes the lead after their demonstration. Another company to watch out for is Roblox (NYSE: RBLX) considering their current popularity for both young and old gamers. 

Another way you can invest in Metaverse is by buying digital assets (like land) on the various Metaverse platforms. It’s similar to buying physical assets, but you can expect these to get a little confusing given how many platforms there are already. Safe choices would include Decentraland and The Sandbox, of course.

Future applications for the Metaverse

The world is on its toes waiting to see what the future holds for the Metaverse. That’s one side effect of the global pandemic we experienced—working from home, online meetings, and online seminars have become viable options for many companies. 

The Metaverse’s social interaction aspect is another point to consider. With digital assets already becoming a profitable investment tool, we can expect our online social interactions to be filled with NFTs ready for us to invest or customize. 
The bottom line here is simple—the Metaverse will happen, just as it was shown on the many examples and demonstrations. The only question is when will it happen and to what extent we can take our digital selves.