What Is the Purpose of the Metaverse, and How It Will Affect You
Contrary to popular belief, the idea behind a Metaverse is not a novel concept: components of Metaverse technology have already been developed in online video games as far back as 2003. The virtual world platform Second Life is often described as the first Metaverse, where users can represent themselves as avatars to interact with one another online.
Applications of the Metaverse have since expanded beyond just games: one can now buy virtual real estate on Decentraland, a virtual reality platform powered by the blockchain. Companies like Gather, Teamflow and Virbela have designed virtual office companies to facilitate fully remote work with perpetually available social interaction.
So what exactly is the Metaverse, and why has it risen to popularity once again in recent times? In a 2022 interview with Wired, Philip Rosedale described it as a persistent three-dimensional Internet populated with live people. In fact, the rise of the Metaverse has been so prominent that tech giant Facebook rebranded itself in 2021 to Meta Platforms, as a commitment to develop the Metaverse space.
The Possibilities in Education, Health and the Workplace
The internet has already transformed the way we learn. Search engines make fact-finding virtually instant. We carry around an infinite library of knowledge in our pockets in the form of mobile phones. Classes can be taught on video conferencing platforms. In the near future, we could be able to learn in 3D — bringing the study of architecture, or history, or even calculus to life in ways flat screens never could.
The potential for revolutionising education and training using the Metaverse is limitless.Through a $150 million fund, Meta has been actively investing in virtual education. For instance, it has partnered with Victory XR to launch 10 digital twin campuses: replicas of existing campuses constructed in fully spatial 3D, at colleges in the United States. In these virtual campuses, students will be able to move about, socialise, learn and compete in activities, and take part in classes remotely.
Another area where Metaverse technologies have the potential to be transformative is healthcare. There are endless possibilities for training healthcare professionals — from practising surgeries without risk to patients, to training first responders without putting them in dangerous situations. Virtual technology can also make medical school more accessible by removing geographical limitations.
Augmented reality also has the potential to be revolutionary. An article by The Medical Futurist suggests a few ways that AR could be utilised. Some examples include helping nurses find veins more easily, showing people how drugs work in 3D, showing people where nearby defibrillators are, helping medical students visualise anatomy, and even motivating runners by having them chased by virtual zombies.
Hybrid work is the future, even though some companies might disagree. A growing number of organisations think the solution is the Metaverse, by creating constant, digital spaces you can log into as some form of avatar. It might seem like a strange concept to sit around in a virtual room and bump into digital forms of your colleagues all day, but many companies are already doing it.
For instance, Microsoft plans to integrate its VR/AR platform, Mesh, with Teams and hinted at future “immersive spaces” within the messaging app. Meta built Horizon Workrooms to hold meetings with Oculus headsets. Even new startups are getting in on the action: Gather looks like an old-school video game, with small, pixelated characters and a decorated 2D world. In Teamflow, you move around a modern-looking office as a floating circle of video.
Do We Really Need the Metaverse?
Differing people have various opinions on the Metaverse. Some might think it’s a gimmick that will never take off, like flying cars of the future. Some might think it’s just a money-making tool for crypto entrepreneurs to make a quick cash grab. But it is undeniable that the Metaverse has real, far-reaching utility in the real world. Certain Metaverse crypto games like Axie Infinity, even served as a source of stable income for people to support their families during the COVID pandemic.
The Internet has come a long way since its inception. This evolution has been driven by improvements in speed, availability and connectivity of the Internet. But we interact in three dimensions. We use multiple senses, body language and spatial awareness to communicate with each other. Advances in technology have now reached a point where such three-dimensional interactions are possible virtually. Therefore, it is logical that the next step in the evolution of the Internet is one that reflects this.
Twenty years ago, computer science and knowing how to code were seen as more of a novelty. Now, software engineering is one of the most highly paid industries. Ten years ago, cryptocurrencies were seen as more of an experimental project. Now, entire industries in blockchain development and DeFi are forming the backbone of the FinTech movement. Right now, the Metaverse is the next biggest trend, with both tech giants and startups fighting to claim their right to the space.
Like it or hate it, the Metaverse will revolutionise our lives. The question is, are you going to be the one to drive this change?
Happening soon on the 22nd of August 2022 at Singapore Management University (SMU), discover what it takes to thrive in the Metaverse and explore the endless opportunities the future has in store for you in the Diving into the Metaverse Course. Participants can enjoy up to 90% SkillsFuture Subsidies while gaining an extensive inventory of specially curated Metaverse content and a certificate jointly issued by SMU Academy and Techfin!
Register here today!