Identifying the essential components of Metaverse
People are particularly interested in learning about the metaverse’s capabilities and potential threats. With similar queries cropping up all the time, I decided to compile a list of the most relevant definitions in one spot. So here we go:
VR and AR are the two cornerstones of the immersive media area. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been around for over 30 years, with VR first appearing in the late 1980s and AR in the early 1990s. The main distinction is the user’s sense of presence. In virtual reality, the user is immersed in a simulated environment, whereas in augmented reality.
As a result, the following definitions emerge:
The user must interact with virtual information in natural and engaging ways to have a true VR or AR experience. This sets VR apart from 3D movies and simulations. It also distinguishes AR from “heads-up displays” (HUDS), which project non-immersive material such as text, data, and flat images into the user’s line of sight.
Virtual reality and augmented reality were the most often used terms in academia and industry for decades, although other words have gained popularity in recent years. For example, the term “extended reality” (XR) was coined to encompass the complete range of VR and AR capabilities and has since evolved into an applicable umbrella term for a variety of immersive media.
The term mixed reality (MR) has also gained traction, but it’s a bit of a misnomer because it’s essentially a synonym for augmented reality. When Microsoft released its revolutionary HoloLens headset in the mid-2010s, it used the concept of “mixed reality” in its marketing materials. People have been looking for ways to distinguish between AR and MR since then, but it’s primarily a matter of personal preference.
More confusion has arisen due to certain businesses marketing smart glasses with ambiguous terminology, referring to them as AR/MR when they are heads-up displays that project non-immersive content into the user’s line of sight. When contrasted to actually augmented reality eyewear like Microsoft’s HoloLens and Snap’s newest Spectacles, such devices can be highly beneficial, but they can also generate market confusion.
Imperial has conducted the world’s first virtual ward round for medical students. An entire class of 350 students can watch a consultant examining patients when they wear @Microsoft‘s HoloLens glasses and stream the video to the students’ computers https://t.co/EttbDhzDEW pic.twitter.com/PHapIjrgRh
— Surgery and Cancer (@ImperialSandC) July 6, 2020
To add to the perplexity, the term “metaverse” has recently gained a lot of traction. The time has its origins in 1990s science fiction, but it wasn’t widely used until Facebook (now Meta) backed it up with marketing muscle. The following is a definition:
A metaverse is a permanent and immersive simulated world that vast groups of simultaneous users experience in the first person and share a strong sense of mutual presence. It can be entirely virtual (i.e., a virtual metaverse), or it might consist of layers of virtual content placed on real-world information (i.e., an augmented metaverse).
Some argue that a metaverse should also include explicit norms of conduct and a fully functioning economy. While many worlds will have these characteristics, including them in the description feels overly restrictive. Similarly, some people anticipate that all virtual and augmented worlds will be linked into a single interoperable metaverse, with elements shared between them. While many worlds will most certainly share features and substance, some will undoubtedly stand alone and still qualify as a metaverse.
No, the metaverse isn’t a novel concept. There.com, which launched in beta in 2001, was the first dedicated metaverse I ever encountered. Even by today’s standards, it was outstanding. Soon after, Second Life appeared, which was likewise spectacular and quickly attracted a significant following. ActiveWorlds was another early metaverse that may have predated the two mentioned above, though I didn’t encounter it until 2006.
Also, read – Is Metaverse a fertile ground for future architects?
In fact, previous metaverse platforms did not include modern notions like Web 3.0 or NFTs, which are now part of the discussion. Many people are perplexed by these new words, so it’s essential to provide some background and explanation.
The discussion of Web 3.0 and NFTs in relation to the metaverse has nothing to do with immersive capabilities. Instead, they are concerned about whether metaverse data is stored centrally by platform providers (such as Facebook user data) or disseminated across networks (like cryptocurrency on the blockchain). Both are valid options for constructing a metaverse, but distributed networks allow for more interoperability and data security. Still, the platform providers will have to select which option to adopt.
Before moving on, it’s worth talking about NFTs because many people mistakenly believe they’re “digital collectibles.” Yes, they’re trendy for that purpose right now, but the NFT is a far bigger concept targeted at transferring ownership of digital goods.
NFTs, remind me of vehicle identification numbers or VINs. The VIN number on each vehicle, which is connected to your title and tracked in a variety of databases, could readily determine ownership. You and I could possess a white Tesla in the real world, both brand new from the manufacturer and nearly identical. We could walk to our cars in a vast parking lot and be unsure of who owns which one.
The same thing could happen in the metaverse – you and I could both possess virtual Teslas that look the same and are parked in the same virtual parking lot. We may be perplexed as to who owns which. Instead of using VIN numbers to resolve this, many metaverse platforms will most likely use NFTs linked to each virtual car to track such ownership (and to every other virtual object that can be owned).
We may look back in the future and chuckle at the irrational speculation markets for NFTs that exist right now. Instead, we’ll recognize that the principal purpose of an NFT is to identify which automobile in a virtual parking lot belongs to you. Because NFTs are decentralized, they may also allow you to move that virtual car from one platform to another. This is significant since an NFT establishes ownership irrespective of collectability.
Finally, haptics is a concept that some people are unfamiliar with.
The term “haptics” refers to the addition of a tactile sensation to computers. Tactile sensations (such as texture and vibration) are felt through the skin, while force sensations (such as weight and resistance) are felt via the muscles. The majority of haptic feedback devices on the market today focus on tactile sensations (because of cost). However, by giving virtual objects tangible realism, gear that also provides force sensations makes VR and AR substantially more immersive and intriguing.
Consumers should be informed that many people in the sector are now misusing these terms. Every virtual environment is not a metaverse; every pair of smart glasses does not deliver an AR/MR experience. Even if it is a desirable goal, it is not assured that all virtual worlds will be interoperable. On the other hand, as the market matures and consumers become more knowledgeable, our language will undoubtedly become more exact. Until then, the definitions listed above should help clear things up.