Definition | Metaverse – Metaverse

Of the universe parallel to ours in which we will evolve and communicate as in real life, socialization, games or even work. This is the new Holy Grail ofinternet what do people like? Mark Zuckerberg : the “metaverses” or “metaverses”.

In English we speak of metaverse » and in French the term « metavers » is more commonly used. The etymology of the word tells us very well about its meaning. “Meta” means “beyond” and “to” refers to the word “universe”. So we get “beyond the universe” or “parallel universe”.

The origin of the metaverse

The first appearance of the term metaverse was in snow crash, “The Virtual Samurai” by Neil Stephenson. In this visionary novel, published in 1992, citizens avatar digital tools to explore a virtual world online – which for them is just another way to escape reality. It turns out that in snow crash, the global economy collapsed and governments lost most of their power to a small number of mega-corporations. The metaverse is therefore a way for them to escape reality. The hero of the novel, Hiro Protagonist, spends most of his time there, through his glasses and listeners.

Steven Spielberg’s movie, Ready Player One (2018) expresses a certain vision of such a concept: there is the virtual world Oasis, in which the hero of the film willingly immerses himself. However, this parallel world is mostly dedicated to the game.

With the advent of NFTs for non-fungible token in English (unique digital objects), some video games online are equated with metaverses, including: The sandpit Where Decentrallandin which anyone can claim exclusive access to a plot of a particular area and intervene as they see fit.

End of October 2021, facebook brought the concept to the fore, when Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of such a parallel world. The company even casually changed its name to adopt Meta’s and better mark its intent to develop an environment that would be the future of internet socialization. Zuckerberg described the metaverse as follows: Here you can do almost anything you can imagine – get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create. »

It should be noted that Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from the vision developed by Neil Stephenson in Snow Crash: The environment in this book is quite negative. I don’t think it will go like this… To Zuckerberg, the metaverse seems like a natural evolution of Facebook, sharing the same calling to bring people together. To that extent, we could assimilate the metaverse with a social network of another dimension, insofar as one can wander there at will, meet people and interact (enjoy a game of ping-pong), visit places…

What defines a metaverse?

Three points seem essential with regard to participating in a metaverse.

1. Immersion:

Mark Zuckerberg made it clear: It will be necessary for users to feel immersed in this universe. So you are in this universe as soon as you enter it. The whole reality perceived and heard during this experience is that of the metaverse. You can touch and feel things.

To that extent we could compare the metaverse to an experience of virtual reality which would be used on a very large scale. As a reminder, the virtual reality consists of defining an artificial environment, made entirely of synthetic images. So in a game like Indiana Jones… Eye of the Temple, an entire universe has been created specific to this saga. After putting on a helmet like theOculus Rift, HTC Vive or even the valve indexthe player must find the exit of a temple full of traps.

2. An open and permanent world

Everyone should be able to join and exit the metaverse at any time. And in this world we have our avatar that can be a reproduction of ourselves or an artificial character that we embody. It is through this avatar that one participates in competitions, training activities or even work.

3. Sustainable elements

The house you live in, the streets you walk in your favorite neighborhood, the objects you own, all of this is permanent. Thanks to NFTs, you can display unique elements such as artwork in your living room, a particular vehicle, armor that can be used in video games, etc.

It is likely that there will also be pre-programmed characters in the metaverse that take over certain social functions, much like a real information booth.

Which accessories for a metaverse?

Participation in a metaverse requires the purchase and use of certain equipment or real and virtual objects:

  • A helmet from virtual reality. This accessory is essential to induce the famous sense of immersion mentioned above. Oculus (from Facebook/Meta), Sony and HTC are among the suppliers of such equipment. Ideally, such a helmet should be replaced by glasses that are easy to put on and immediately immerse us in the metavers. Some have even made mention of neural interfaces, but it is unlikely that such intrusive equipment will ever be spontaneously adopted by a majority of the population.
  • Of the sensors high-resolution touchscreens that can mimic the sense of touch in this virtual world. One could also consider combinations that can transmit tactile sensations in the large parts of the body.
  • Custom clothing, accessories or homes. The enthusiasm of several luxury brands for NFTs is in this direction. A platform like Exclusible offers makers of jewelry, fashion, beauty products and other luxury accessories the opportunity to produce NFTs.
  • A parallel currency, and thus a cryptocurrency as found in The sandpit Where Axie Infinity with which we can buy and sell the objects of the game. play to earn (playing to win) are called upon to develop.

Who builds metaverses?

Besides Facebook, some of the major companies that are active in creating metaverses are:

  • Epic Games, creator of the highly popular Fortnite, which raised $1 billion in April 2021 and plans to invest primarily in transforming this game into a metaverse;
  • Roblox, another publisher, who plans to develop its online game in a way that facilitates relationships similar to those in real life;
  • the OVR platform that covers the whole world: you can buy land, build buildings, create online events…
  • startup Magic Leap, which is building an alternate reality platform and has hired Neil Stephenson as its chief visionary;
  • Microsoft. The Windows publisher wants to be application from video conference Teams to make it a metaverse, mainly dedicated to the business world;
  • In November 2021, Disney announced it was joining the movement without giving details about its technological approach.

A combination of advanced technologies

Metaverse visionaries usually point us to many years into the future, as many existing technologies must mature before such a parallel universe can be deployed. If visualization accessories and touch systems are part of that, then everything from above is too. debit. In addition to fiber optic, 5G and maybe even 6G are indispensable ingredients of such a comparison.

As for the integration of the metaverse in our civilization model, we can ask many questions. What can we expect from the countries where the metaverse will thrive? An artificial paradise that makes it possible to escape from a real world instead of facing its problems? A tool for individual liberation or slavery? An ecological disaster linked to the computing power that underlies such a system? It also remains to be seen whether dictatorial regimes will ever grant access to a metaverse where everyone is free to act and express themselves as they please.

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