Metaverse is a digital place inhabited by the digital representations of people (Avatars) and things. It is a new vision of internet.
Metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connections. It is often described as iteration of internet as a single, universal virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality.
Metaverse has its origin in the 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash” as a combination for “meta” and “Universe”. In this he envisioned lifelike avatars who met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
Some of the platforms already developed can be considered metaverse (e.g., “second life”).
Applications of Metaverse:
- Meta envisions a virtual world where digital avatars connect through work, travel or entertainment using VR For e.g., it may include fake houses where you can invite all your friends to hang out in.
- Microsoft envisages that it could involve virtual meeting rooms to train new hires or chat with your remote coworkers.
- Entertainment: Attend a Concert virtually
- VR headsets are still very clunky, and most people experience motion sickness or physical pain if it is worn for too long.
- Many Technological challenges – For e.g., if the person would be wearing headsets, how the facial expressions would be scanned and made available in real time.
- Lack of Common Standards: Various big tech players are building their own versions of an extended virtual reality.
- Cyber Security: For e.g., by not limiting the number of avatars, Metaverse would allow users to create online representations of others without their consent or verification. While celebrities may be protected by various impersonation mechanisms. Common people would be more vulnerable.
- Users are going to require regulatory support which integrates governments, industries, and other users.
What is being done and what is the way ahead?
- Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the newly named Meta (formerly Facebook), estimates it could take 5 to 10 years before key features of the metaverse become mainstream. But various components of metaverse already exist – Ultrafast broadband speed, virtual reality headsets and persistent always-on online worlds are already up and running.
- Open-Source Platforms like Web3D Consortium, World Wide Web Consortium, XR Association, and several other industry players have come together as the Metaverse Standards forum to build interoperability into the metaverse.
- It is important that the work on regulating metaverse starts parallelly. Here civil society, tech companies and the government will need to work together to evolve appropriate rules and cybersecurity framework.
Metaverse has the potential to disrupt the way humanity interacts. Discuss the key opportunities and challenges associated with metaverse [10 marks, 150 words]