WHAT is the metaverse? It might sound confusing but it’s actually very simple.
Here’s a quick guide on what it means, and how tech giant Facebook is involved.
What is the metaverse?
The definition of the metaverse really depends on how you ask.
According to the dictionary, it’s: “A 3D virtual world, especially in an online roleplaying game.”
Billionaire Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg called it “the next version of the internet”.
He said: “This isn’t about spending more time in screens. It’s about making the time we already spend better.”
Facebook has even rebranded its parent company operation as Meta, as part of its commitment to the metaverse.
Speaking to journalists including The Sun, Meta’s VR boss Andrew Bosworth said: “The metaverse is a set of virtual 3D spaces where you can share immersive experiences with each other when you can’t be together.”
“What comes after the internet? Instead of looking at a screen, you get to be in the experiences.
“You don’t have to experience it in VR. Most people initially will experience it on screens they already have.”
If you think it all sounds very broad, you’re right. It is.
The rough idea is that it’s an internet, but immersive – so you live inside it, and interact with it.
The metaverse will have loads of experiences, including games, social networks, videos, shopping, health and fitness and more.
It already exists in some forms now – with Facebook’s Oculus VR, and games like Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft.
But it’s not huge in terms of scale.
Zuckerberg thinks that the true metaverse will be ready within the decade.
Aspects already exist now, and we’ll see significant leaps in the next few years.
Tech giant Meta (formerly Facebook) has poured billions of dollars into building the “metaverse” already – and recently vowed to hire another 10,000 staff to work on the project.
How do you interact with the metaverse?
The point of the metaverse is that it’s an immersive layer on top of reality.
So the two main ways you’ll interact with the metaverse are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
AR is when computerised images are overlaid on the real world – think Pokemon Go.
Eventually you won’t see these images through phones, but through smart glasses.
The other option that’s now readily available is VR, which is totally immersive – because you wear a proper headset.
VR headsets used to cost around £1,000 and require a £1,500+ gaming PC to go with them.
Now Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 does much the same job for $299/£299 with no PC required.
This cheaper headset lets you move around freely in a VR space with no wires, and can even track your hand movements.
Facebook is also working on a pair of AR glasses, expected in the next few years.
Zuckerberg says that Meta will sell this hardware at cost – or even subsidise it – to get the tech into as many hands as possible.
Expect the price of these headsets and glasses to come down over the years.
And we’ll likely see their designs shrinking in size too, to make them more practical.
If you want to try the metaverse today, you can easily sample bits of it using an Oculus Quest 2 headset.
What will the metaverse look like in the future?
It’s impossible to say exactly what the metaverse will look like.
There are lots of companies with interests in various parts of the metaverse, from tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to gaming titans like Roblox and Fortnite.
Even the people building the metaverse can’t say for sure what we’ll end up with.
What we do know is that there’ll be some kind of economy in the metaverse.
Zuckerberg recently unveiled the Horizon Home – letting you create a house in the metaverse, with the potential option to pay for some goods inside it.
Pals will be visualised with new and more lifelike avatars they’ve created.
And you can watch TV in your virtual home, play games and more.
Your Horizon Home will have a personal workspace environment inside of it.
And you’ll be able to customise this with logos, posters and designs.
Bosworth said that one day, the metaverse would support a whole economy inside it.
This would include interior designers for your home, and personal stylists for your avatars.
These professionals would be able to make a living inside VR one day, Bosworth told journalists.
Facebook has vowed to launch a $150million Facebook Reality Labs education program.
This will help to train creators of the metaverse, and increase access to VR devices.
Probably many of the services and experiences you enjoy in real life will be available in the metaverse.
Already we see popular apps in Oculus VR inspired by golf, table tennis, climbing, exploration and even watching TV.
As the metaverse is created by humans on computers, almost anything you can imagine may be possible.
But it also comes with risks.
Sci-fi has warned of the horrors of virtual life – dystopian movies like The Matrix are based entirely on the concept of living in a digital world, ignoring reality.
And with private companies running a virtual world, who polices it? If it’s an important as the internet, is it ever fair to ban someone from it entirely?
Tricky problems that exist with the current internet will only get more confusing when the metaverse truly arrives.
The only thing we know for sure is that billions of dollars are being spent to create it, so it’s largely inevitable. After all, it already exists in many ways.
It’s just waiting for you to log on.
- Read all the latest Phones & Gadgets news
- Keep up-to-date on Apple stories
- Get the latest on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram
Best Phone and Gadget tips and hacks
Looking for tips and hacks for your phone? Want to find those secret features within social media apps? We have you covered…
Get all the latest WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and other tech gadget stories here.
In other news, check out the best iPhone 13 deals in October 2021.
Take a look at your hidden Facebook rejection folder.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at email@example.com