A metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space.
The concept of a metaverse isn’t new to mankind, for thousands of years there have been stories passed down throughout history that talk about a world that is above our own, made up of all the lost souls in this life.
The Dreamtime is yet another idea passed down throughout history. The Dreamtime is the Aboriginal concept of an alternative reality which exists alongside our own world. This concept refers to the past, when mythological creatures created the world.
The idea of a virtual space that is above our own then isn’t new, what makes it any different from anything else out there?
What is the Metaverse?
The answer is simple, the metaverse is a world augmented with elements in our everyday life. We already have online communities on a basic level (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), where people communicate with one another on a daily basis.
Online games such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty or EVE online are becoming increasingly popular to the point that some people choose to live in this alternate reality over their own.
A metaverse is not just an online community, it isn’t just a virtual space that we visit every now and then, a metaverse is real life with an added layer of augmented reality on top. Metaverse technologies enable people from all over the world to create an online identity, represented as an avatar that exists virtually through which you can socialize and connect with others.
What Are the Potential Functions and Uses of the Metaverse?
Metaverse technologies offer a variety of useful features to a wide range of industries, from medicine and health to commerce.
Medicine and Healthcare
Doctors and other medical professionals will be able to perform surgeries through an augmented reality environment, the doctor sees their patient’s body as if it were his or her own hands inside of them. This innovative idea has already been put to use in the real world with the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device (RRDD).
Virtual Reality has also been used in training programs for new doctors and nurses. It helps medical students and professionals learn about parts of the body from different angles without having to use cadavers, saving money on materials as well as time.
In a metaverse users would be able to control their own avatars, creating identities that they can represent themselves with. Commerce will be done primarily through the use of currency, but rather than using a physical currency these currencies wouldn’t exist anywhere except in virtual space.
Users would purchase clothes or other items for their avatars, as well as renew parts of their avatar if needed. Users could create whatever type of identity they wanted, or free to be anything they wanted.
For example, the online game Second Life is a virtual world where anyone can create an avatar and then use it as their own. People go out into the world to buy furniture or clothes, which all translates back to real life money.
Many users of second life are completely detached from the real world, spending their time going to virtual parties and other events instead of taking care of the needs a normal life requires. The reality is that Second Life isn’t a real virtual world, it’s just a game with an added layer of augmented reality.
Classrooms could be transformed into an augmented reality environment through which students are able to interact with their teachers and other students. Classes would have a virtual feel, removing the boundaries of physical space between student and teacher.
Virtual Reality has already been tested in the education field, it is being used currently by various universities to teach subjects such as geography, history, and other STEM courses.
In the same way that Second Life has been used in classrooms to help students learn about geometry or economics in a virtual space, Metaverse technologies enable an even greater scope of subjects that can be taught through the use of augmented reality.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Metaverse
Because of the vast potential that Metaverse technologies offer, a lot of companies have put a lot of time and money into developing their own metaverse platforms. The benefits of the metaverse are quite obvious when compared to physical space. It is easier for companies to hold virtual conferences rather than physical ones, AV equipment is hardly ever needed when you have a completely customizable interface at your disposal.
The metaverse offers enormous potential in this sector, being able to provide the world with an expansive online community where everyone is represented by their own avatar.
While there are countless benefits to creating a virtual world where everyone is represented by their own avatar, it is important to realize that not everything will be safe within this virtual world.
There may or may not be strict policies in place for users that are creating their own avatars within the Metaverse, this lack of security leads to a lot of issues. Just like in Second Life where users can create whatever avatar they want to represent themselves with, hackers could potentially exploit even more advanced systems and do a lot more damage or cause a lot more mayhem than ever before.
The Metaverse has the potential to change how we live our lives by giving us an entirely new way to connect with each other and make memories. It isn’t a far-fetched concept, and the development of technologies to make it happen is already underway.
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