The Metaverse Isn’t Here Yet
STORY INLINE POST
When people talk about the metaverse, it’s like they’re describing Ernest Cline’s 2011 book, “Ready Player One” (which many may know thanks to Stephen Spielberg’s film adaptation from 2018). The picture is that of a seemingly endless network of online worlds we can all access through fancy virtual reality equipment and where people’s lives mostly take place, from going to school to working and, of course, shopping. However, this futuristic dream might not be what the metaverse really is, and the reality of it might be a lot less exciting, at least for now.
As of today, what we call virtual reality is more like having a TV on your nose. It’s true that graphics can be quite lifelike, as so many amazing video games can attest. But even photorealistic technologies, such as Unreal Engine 5, are an impossibility in real-time processing. Not to mention that many people still experience motion sickness or pain when wearing VR headsets for too long. Of course, you could still access the metaverse from a computer but how would that be any different from the old Second Life?
Meta’s presentation (Meta being the name with which Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make Facebook own the metaverse concept) featured outlandish things such as holograms and people interacting with objects in the air without any apparent kind of sensor. A nice-looking concept, but more appropriate for a sci-fi movie than any serious business venture. Current technology is still very far from these ideas. And if you look at most metaverse projects, most aren’t even close to promising anything of the like. Just old graphics and the chance to own real estate in imaginary lands, which may or may not be worth something in the future.
That is not to say that there can’t be anything interesting in the concept. Certainly, blockchain and NFTs are real enough, and there are great possibilities for the so-called Web3 regarding online anonymity and decentralization. But right now, the metaverse of vast virtual worlds and immersive virtual reality looks more like a bubble than anything real.
There are, however, existing technologies that have a great potential to provide great services to consumers, and profitable ones at that. Take augmented reality, for instance. Perhaps a device such as the Google Glass was a bit ahead of its time when it came out. But the possibilities for the use of augmented reality in everyday life are endless. You could be watching a soccer game and you could see all the statistics outside of the screen, or the chat screen you see in live streams could be there too. Ads could pop up in the real world, catching your eye.
Perhaps those interested in more realistic business opportunities would be better off exploring those possibilities that can provide more useful services to people right now, instead of losing themselves in an imaginary virtual world not much better than any of today’s video games.