After Facebook changed its name to Meta back in the fall of 2021, a heavy influx of news stories about the Metaverse eventually followed. The concept is likely complex for anyone who hasn’t been well-educated in the digital space since the term was coined back in 1992. Anyone who feels like they’re on the outside looking in when it comes to anything related to virtual reality or the metaverse isn’t alone. Although virtual reality has made strides in the past few decades, it’s only recently gained the potential to become a hot consumer item with Meta’s (then known as Facebook) 2020 release of the Oculus Quest 2. The technology of the Oculus Quest 2 offers users ranges from expanded work from home capabilities to VR chat rooms. Even though the potential the metaverse possesses is great, there are still numerous questions people need answers to before taking the leap for themselves.
What Is the Metaverse?
Simply put, the metaverse combines augmented reality with virtual reality to create an immersive experience where people can connect to play together, collaborate on work projects or just socialize. The term ‘metaverse’ first appeared in the sci-fi book by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash. The concept has gone from a dystopian concept in a science fiction novel into a multi-billion dollar industry. Some estimates report that the Metaverse could eventually reach $1 trillion in annual revenue. After an investment of $10 billion, Meta anticipates the Metaverse generating at least 10,000 jobs over the course of the next five years.
Meta is at the forefront of the movement to make the Metaverse mainstream, but there are numerous additional tech companies aiming to gain their fair share of profit, too. Some of the other major players from the tech space currently constructing the metaverse include Epic Games, Apple, and Microsoft. Each of the companies currently working to construct the Metaverse are capable of bringing something special to make it capable of exceeding even the wildest of imaginations.
What Is the Metaverse Capable Of?
One of the most confusing aspects of the metaverse is that it’s so hard getting a straight answer as to what it will be primarily used for. When most people hear the words virtual reality, the first thing that typically comes to mind is video games. While an immersive gaming experience is one of the most widely known benefits to joining the Metaverse, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of grasping its full capabilities. Aside from gaming, other ways users will be able to leverage the Metaverse include virtual home tours, mock brick-and mortar store locations, and theme parks, along with much more. Essentially, the idea of the Metaverse is to provide people with a myriad of experiences all from the comfort of one convenient location.
Even though the goal of the metaverse is generally harmless, that doesn’t mean it won’t come without its fair share of downsides. One of the risks that the metaverse poses to users is an increased likelihood of developing an addiction to technology. On a broader scale, as people get more comfortable communicating solely through digital mediums like VR chat rooms, the risk of social fragmentation becomes greater, too. For current participants in the Metaverse, the risks haven’t averted them from acting as pioneers in the next digital frontier. There are numerous ways people curious about the Metaverse can join.
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How Do People Join the Metaverse?
Although the most common pathway into the Metaverse seems like Meta’s Oculus Quest, there are actually numerous ways people can explore the Metaverse. Other options for virtual reality platforms, aside from the Oculus Quest, include the HoloLens2 Microsoft Smart Glasses, HTC Vive, and soon the PSVR 2. Each of the platforms has its own pros and cons that consumers will need to closely analyze before making a decision. Most people have chosen to go the route of the Oculus Quest due to the fact that it doesn’t require the connection of a PC or external gaming system. It’s also important to keep in mind that each virtual reality headset has different capabilities. Taking that into consideration, if someone is hoping to purchase a virtual reality headset for the purpose of being able to take meetings in VR, they’ll be seeking different specs than someone on the search for one for gaming purposes. The advent of the Metaverse seems as though it’s still in the early phases. Where it could end, along with the impact it has on humanity still remains to be seen.