What Is The Metaverse And Why Is Facebook Betting On It?
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know that everyone has been talking about “Meta” lately. Of course, if you are not in the tech industry, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Meta is a Marvel Cinematic Universe term or that it perhaps has something to do with philosophy or psychology.
However, that is far from the case. Rather, Meta has been the tech industry’s latest buzzword simply because one of the biggest social media platforms, Facebook, will be rebranding and changing its parent company’s name to Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, in an attempt to blur the lines between the physical and digital world.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, announced this on October 28 at Facebook’s annual Connect conference which brings together augmented and virtual reality developers, content creators and marketers to celebrate the industry’s growth.
At the conference, Zuckerberg elaborated on what the metaverse would mean for users and how it would contribute to building the future of the tech space while also bringing together social connections, entertainment, gaming, fitness, work, education and commerce.
“We’ve learnt a lot from struggling with social issues and living under closed platforms, and now it is time to take everything that we’ve learnt and help build the next chapter,” Zuckerberg said.
He also added that Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp will be keeping their names under the rebranding.
If you still have no idea what all this means for you as a consumer, keep reading because we are going to break it down for you.
What is a metaverse?
No, a metaverse is not where the Avengers blipped to in the Avengers: Endgame movie. Rather, Zuckerberg explained that it will be a social, three-dimensional virtual space where users can share immersive experiences with other people. It will also allow users to do things they can’t in the physical world.
When we first heard this, we certainly thought it was a high-end version of The Sims. But that isn’t exactly the case. Rather, it is a world with absolutely endless possibilities.
Using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps and other devices, users can engage with virtual communities and work, play and meet each other in the virtual realm.
The metaverse will also bring online shopping and social media aspects into the realm. It will essentially be a hybrid of today’s online social experiences that will allow people to be together even when they cannot physically.
Considering today’s climate with the pandemic and current restrictions and border closures, this is certainly a timely move by Facebook.
What can you do in the metaverse?
From virtual concerts to online trips overseas, painting, trying digital clothing, working out and more, the possibilities are truly endless in the metaverse.
With the ongoing pandemic, the metaverse could also bring about another massive shift when it comes to working. In fact, instead of hopping onto a Zoom call, you might soon be able to join your colleagues in a virtual office.
To supplement this, Facebook has already launched a meeting software for companies called Horizon Workrooms that is meant to be used with its Oculus virtual reality (VR) headsets. That said, considering its hefty price tag, this might not be made a commodity just yet.
That said, it will certainly be a game-changer that saves time and effort.
"A lot of the metaverse experience is going to be around being able to teleport from one experience to another," Zuckerberg says.
While all that sounds cool, we certainly aren’t looking forward to having to wear pants during meetings once again.
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Why is it called Meta?
Meta was chosen by Facebook because the word can mean beyond which essentially captures the company’s commitment to building social technologies that can take us beyond what digital connection makes possible today.
Along with this, Facebook will be introducing a new logo and colour to accompany the new company branding. The logo is designed to be experienced in the three-dimensional space and really comes to life that way.
Will Facebook be introducing new products to make this a reality?
VR and Augmented Reality (AR) are already major players in the gaming world. However, Facebook will be investing more in the core technology and will be working towards bringing fully-featured AR glasses to market.
While they do this, the social media company will be working to make Facebook more compatible with these glasses and looking for every avenue to enhance a user’s experience with AR.
What is a Presence Platform?
Presence Platform is one of the new tools that Facebook will be introducing to help people build for the metaverse. The system will allow for mixed reality experiences on Quest two.
It will also include a US$150-million investment in immersive learning in order to train the next generation of creators for what will be a revolutionary upgrade to the world of tech.
Is Facebook the only company involved in this?
Part of the draw of the metaverse is that it will be combining many different tech companies. In fact, tech companies such as Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia are already talking about the metaverse.
Gaming companies such as Epic Games, the company that created Fortnite, have also already raised US$1 billion from investors that will go towards building their metaverse.
However, that’s not all. In fact, fashion brands are also jumping in on the bandwagon. In June this year, Italian fashion house Gucci collaborated with Roblox to create a virtual Gucci Garden metaverse for consumers to explore and it was a resounding success as visitors tried on items and purchased them while interacting with the space.
When will this launch?
Facebook plans to start in limited beta this year and expand to more beta participants in 2022. They plan to fully launch the metaverse to all businesses in 2023.
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