Conceptualized nearly two decades ago, the metaverse universe was first fantasized in works of science fiction. Subsequently, several companies in the 2000s launched virtual worlds where the player creates an avatar to interact with other members of a community.
This ecosystem of metavers has been experiencing a revival since the 2020s, particularly following the Covid pandemic. We are talking about a market estimated at approximately $30 billion at present. But what is this new approach, what is its potential and above all what are we really talking about?
What are Metaverses?
The term metavers is an Anglicism overlapping the words “meta” and “universe”. It is simply a virtual reality space open to the world to create an immersive experience. For some, metavers are the successor to the internet (Web 3.0).
This shared virtual world combines the use of all the latest advances, technological or not, of recent years: cloud, ultra-fast internet connections, social media, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Not to mention the use of cryptocurrencies for transactions via the blockchain, works of art (NFT), consumer products and artefacts, but also online games.
Facebook, now Meta, fully launched into this universe at the end of 2021 and offers the following definition: “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who are not in the same physical space as you “.
How does it work in summary?
The universe of metaverses is difficult to apprehend as its depth of field and possibility is great. The purpose of these virtual worlds remains to offer the user a three-dimensional experience to interact in total immersion with other virtual people present nearby or on the other side of the world..
To provide a complete experience, metavers develop spaces dedicated to users, but also a real digital economy. This second point is also changing very quickly since many economic players and giants of the stock market and the media have taken the plunge and invested massively in this technological revolution. The best known of all remains Meta, ex Facebook, which announced at the end of 2021, to invest around 10 billion dollars to develop its virtual universe.
In the metaverses that already exist and are operational (such as Sandbox or Décentraland for example), major brands have already positioned themselves by buying land in particular. We can mention Carrefour, L’Oréal, Disney or even McDonald’s.
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Example of the metaverse experience for shopping at WALMART
What are the advantages and disadvantages of metavers?
Metavers offer many advantages:
- True social interaction with relatives and strangers on the other side of the planet.
- A enhanced learning experience for pupils or students (virtual classes, conferences, virtual tours of monuments, etc.).
- For signs, new possibilities for product placement and sales.
- Increased opportunities for creativity with built-in editing tools that allow users to easily add new content and customize their settings.
- A accessibility from anywhere in the world and from any electronic device.
Among the main disadvantages that can be noted:
- The issue of data control and privacy settings.
- The technical problems still present : internet speed, overloaded servers…
- The security risks in these virtual worlds where hackers find a new playground (identity theft, embezzlement, etc.).
- Content and interactions still too limited.
Conclusion: To infinity and beyond
The prospects offered by these virtual worlds seem limitless and will revolutionize multiple business sectors. This concerns in particular consumption, the art market, collaborative work, video games, sport, travel, entertainment, real estate, etc.
But metaverse technology is still in its infancy, and will only be fully exploitable in a few years.. There are currently many technical hurdles to overcome. On the one hand, online infrastructures capable of accommodating millions of simultaneous users. On the other hand, ultra-fast and reliable internet connections. Not to mention the unknown of the legal framework that will be put in place in these real Far West of the 21st century.
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