Is the Metaverse, the future?
Have you heard about something called The Metaverse? I know what you are thinking – “oh come on! Who hasn’t heard about it?”
After 10 years of research Facebook has officially entered the space, cue one impeccably timed name change, and here we are, with the Metaverse fast becoming a household name. But, for the benefit of those who haven’t heard, let’s discuss further.
By definition, the Metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with other users in a computer-generated environment.
The Internet has come a long way since SGI dogfight and “Ask Jeeves”, and as a result it has brought people immense opportunities that have impacted the world in ways, which – lets be honest, we probably did not see coming. It has evolved into something that is much bigger than just videos, text, and photos! Now it is time to bring our imagination into reality through a 3D world and the Metaverse.
In this modern era, technology is creating infinite opportunities and some quite unbelievable innovations. You can literally transform an idea into reality, as I have done with my business partner when creating Platform OMS. Now, as we roll out this potentially industry disrupting software venture in the UK, and the Middle East, I am already thinking of the next crazy idea or creation to come up with, cue…. the Metaverse.
So, what is a Metaverse?
The Metaverse is an online, three-dimensional environment that integrates numerous virtual spaces. It may be compared to a future version of the internet (Also known as web 3.0 – explained by Forbes here). It is primed to be the next big thing in open-source technology. Users will be able to collaborate, meet and communicate, play games, earn rewards, and interact in these 3D environments.
The two main technologies that construct the Metaverse are Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VR consists of robust virtual environments that exist even when you’re not online or playing. AR compromises an amalgamation of the digital and physical worlds, although access to those areas is not solely dependent on using VR and AR devices alone.
It does not however, necessitate that those areas be only accessible through VR or AR. For example, a virtual environment can be accessed through PCs, gaming consoles, smart phones, and tablets. A great example of this would be the popular game Fortnite, which may also be considered a Metaverse.
You may be surprised to know that the well-known ROBLOX metaverse has 47 million daily users worldwide and 9 million developers, who have built in game experiences known as “user generated worlds” in both AR and VR games.
Now, as an innovator, a creative thinker, and crypto enthusiast, the Metaverse and its unique features and possibilities both excite and intrigue me a great deal. Ideas and solutions are on paper, and work is underway on developments that will catapult the virtual world into the mainstream, and I cannot wait to see how different industries will embrace it.
Maybe it’s just because the Metaverse is fresh, exciting, and totally unique? Or maybe because it is the future of a wide range of industries, and businesses? I mean, why would this not be possible? Stranger things have happened!
What are the benefits of the Metaverse?
Remote Work Challenges
The Metaverse has the potential to address all existing challenges of remote working. In recent times COVID-19 has shown that working from home can be achieved and is effective, but it has also presented challenges. A Metaverse will allow managers to effectively communicate with the employees in the virtual world, including such things as reading their body language and providing in-person interaction. Software such as Teams, Meets and Zoom are all now commonplace; businesses have widely adopted these solutions, and in the main, to a positive effect. But what if the Metaverse could take business meetings, networking, and socialising that one step further?
Making online gaming more exciting
Most Metaverse games today have a decentralized economic model where developers and publishers own the in-game assets and the right to distribute them. Meanwhile, the idea of allowing avatars to explore the vast virtual space is exciting for gamers.
Tokenising and offering reward programs is a simple concept, and something that attracts a lot of people in to the Metaverse, initiatives such as Play to Earn (P2E) and Move to Earn (M2E) are becoming more and more common, but what if I was to suggest introducing Learn to Earn, or Work to Earn (maybe W2E is a little farfetched?) into everyday life. The concept slightly different, but the principle remains the same as P2E and M2E in the sense that you move or play, complete tasks, and earn tokens for doing so, earning yourself passive income as you move through the Metaverse. So, what if that could be created and implemented into a normal working environment, or in to learning?
Providing the experience of virtual tours
Most people dream of travelling abroad to discover a plethora of experiences and adventures and to immerse oneself in new cultures, cuisine, art, and architecture. But travel is a costly endeavour in both time and resources. That’s where the Metaverse becomes advantageous. It allows people to visit places virtually where they can’t go physically. By utilizing the combined power of Metaverse, AR, and VR, an advanced virtual world is being developed that offers a first-person experience to the user. Yes, I can hear you thinking it – “But that isn’t the same as actually visiting” – I hear that, but as we touched on above, travelling can be costly and to a lot of the world’s population, particularly after the previous 2 years we have all endured, it may not be an expense they are able to justify paying out.
So, with all the above in mind, Can the Metaverse work in the Education Industry?
Personally, I firmly believe that it can. Why not? Imagine walking into a virtual classroom where a trainer, teacher or lecturer has laid out virtual documents you can pick up and read, notice boards are pinned with salient material specific to a certain class. Relevant information that is data swept in real time from the internet to provide the most up to date news and information for learners and course leaders alike.
Course delivery can be accessed from every corner of the globe (subject to suitable Wi-Fi access) learners can be rewarded for learning (L2E) and certification can be produced and secured by the blockchain, the possibilities, and my ideas on this, really are endless.
In an educational Metaverse, you could invite guest speakers to attend events that they otherwise may not be able to present at, allowing them to reach audiences that are currently impossible to reach. Moreover, this would be achieved in a more personable and intimate way than what is currently available to the education sector.
Imagine new work opportunities being promoted to “new blood” (learners) that are fresh out of College/University/Private training, being pitched jobs that match their skill set using AI technology, or businesses having their pick of top talent coming through the education system by using smart analytics. You don’t think that is possible? Of course, maybe not right now, but it will be in time.
When first researching to fully understand the Metaverse and it’s benefits and potential, it was clear to me that there are unique possibilities for digital marketers, and a vast array of other professions, within a Metaverse. This newfound craze can be yet another approach to collect data and analyse user/learner behaviour, that can be utilised to benefit trainers/teachers/lecturers by presenting the most effective learning style for the student, which in turn presents to them an infinitely better all-round learning experience.
Where next for the Metaverse?
It is fair to say that online games and realistic digital landscapes have been around for a while now, virtual reality is the newest feature that is bringing the Metaverse to the mainstream.
What was once a clumsy, esoteric technology has found its way into the homes of millions of people and it might be used to help lead retail into a future where physical and digital interactions merge. But one of the side effects VR has, is motion sickness, and it can cause headaches; so why would I use this technology? Well, to be brutally honest, I absolutely wouldn’t. The beauty of all of this is that VR or AR is not a necessity to access or use a Metaverse, it is just another angle of usage and adds to the appeal for many people who do or would enjoy the VR/AR experience.
With all this information and new technology available and at the forefront of people’s minds, brands are taking note and either adjusting to, or adopting fully, the Metaverse. There are many examples are of companies that are pushing boundaries in this new world.
Nike recently acquired a company called RTFKT – “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming”. They are looking into virtual storefronts in addition to utilising ‘downloadable virtual items.’ A move has been made to trademark the swoosh logo for usage in the digital realm to protect the brand as the product evolves and they have also designed and released their famous Nike trainers as NFT’s with the idea of extending their current digital footprint.
For me, this next example is the most difficult for me to wrap my head around, simply because it is both ingenious, and bat shit crazy.
Walmart, in a recent statement said that they are “continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences.” Shortly after they filed trademarks for digital currency and then in mid-January a video was released of a full grocery shopping experience done in the Metaverse. A personal shopper will accompany you around the virtual store, reminding you of what is on your list and guiding you to where you need to be heading, they will then advise on things such as wine pairings for certain meals or recipes using the groceries you are buying. Don’t believe me? You can see the video here.
My final example is Sportemon-Go, which is a crypto based sports ecosystem that are looking to take over the sports industry with AR and VR digital experiences. They are aggressively innovating in the space, and are now looking to the Metaverse to introduce their own version of Play2Earn gaming and wagering with Metarace World and the soon to launch DeF1 Racing. They have also partnered with several other projects and have developed next gen products that will genuinely, in my opinion, revolutionise the crypto and NFT world.
Digital marketing within the Metaverse is another industry that is going to be taken to the next level, by helping brands convert and generate sales with interactive, realistic experiences all from the comfort of the consumer’s home, it will not look like your typical marketing. I will be watching this closely and will find it exciting to see how brands use this large platform to gain the maximum possible benefits.
The Metaverse use case is not only reserved for the aforementioned industries. I believe there exists a multitude of use cases that can be adopted across many business sectors and social platforms. Which is why I believe that, as an industry, this is one technological development that the education sector cannot afford to pass by. A large proportion of the world is headed into the Metaverse, and into a realm of infinite possibility.