What Does Metaverse Mean?
The metaverse is an immersive, interactive environment generated by a computer. Although there is no unified agreement on what the metaverse will look like — or how individuals will interact with it — Star Trek’s holodeck is often used as an example to explain the concept.
Basically, after some sort of identity verification, metaverse visitors use an avatar (that may or may not resemble their real-life counterpart) to explore their new virtual environment. Technologies that support this type of immersive computing include:
- Virtual reality (VR) headsets
- Haptic interfaces
- Intelligent sensors
- Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs)
- Blockchain distributed ledgers
- Nonfungible tokens (NFTs)
- Digital twins
- Augmented reality
The metaverse is expected to create new revenue streams because it will provide companies with a new way to promote goods and services, while also allowing them to collect new types of data generaged by user interactions. Before companies can expect a high return on investment for this type of business initiative, however, there are still many technological challenges and social concerns that need to be addressed.
Microsoft, Facebook (rebranded Meta), Nvidia and Roblox are often pointed out as pioneers in the metaverse. These vendors are known for their research and development in mixed reality technologies and are currently exploring ways to monetize head-tracking and other types of user-generated data in the metaverse.
Future research is expected to focus on overcoming the current bandwidth, headset and haptic considerations that put limits on today's metaverse applications.
Techopedia Explains Metaverse
In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg referred to the metaverse as an embodied internet where the user is actually part of the experience. Zuckerberg has said that the metaverse will be the successor of the mobile internet and dramatically change the way people work and communicate. He’s not alone in his thinking. Goldman Sachs’ analyst Eric Sheridan called the metaverse an $8 trillion market opportunity.
Metaverse Security and Privacy Concerns
Metaverse-like digital experiences are raising new questions about monitoring and regulating online behavior. Access management for specific virtual worlds, as well as the question of interoperability between virtual worlds, is a major concern for metaverse developers.
Internet privacy is also an important consideration, and proponents are currently struggling with the question of whether there should be limits for what data can be collected and who it can be shared with.
Other compliance and security concerns surrounding the metaverse include:
- Managing access control and authentication in the metaverse.
- Preventing device hacks in augmented and virtual reality environments.
- Ensuring interoperability between two or more metaverses.
- Mitigating the potential for meta-identity theft.
- Protecting the integrity of non-fungible tokens.
The term “metaverse” was first used by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash. Many industry experts predict the metaverse will be the next evolution of social media, giving students, consumers, and employees new ways to connect and spend time together.