The technological leaders, with Mark Zuckerberg at the helm, point to a parallel and virtual world where we can be who we really want to be and without physical barriers to try any type of experience. Of course, will we have to go through the box?
Virtual reality glasses want to become the gateway to a new world. Beyond having fun with them in simple games or living isolated experiences, many see in this device the possibility of moving us to another parallel universe. Specifically, the metaverse.
The word results from uniting goal and universe and comes to mean beyond the universe. Several technology leaders, led by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, are taking steps so that ‘soon’ we can move into that other virtual universe. In fact, Zuckerberg is already saying that his company is “a metaverse company.” We do not know yet if it is proof of outages or server disconnections?
To clarify, it would be about replicating this world in a virtual way. We would all have a kind of avatar with whom we would live any type of experience – also virtual, of course. To many, this metaverse will remind you of Second Life. “That made a lot of noise and served as an opening act.
It didn’t work because people weren’t ready. I don’t think they are ready now either. It is true that there are many advances in that sense and that there are people who are very willing to get fully into their avatar. , but not at the level that the metaverse implies. ” This is how Juan Quintanilla, CEO of Syntonize, sees it.
The best image to explain the phenomenon we are talking about can be found in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film ‘Ready: player one’. Its protagonists live in a quite apocalyptic scenario. In fact, they reside in a kind of shantytown and do not pay much attention to the physical world, which is increasingly deteriorating.
They prefer to escape with virtual reality glasses and slip into a suit full of sensors. Thus, they spend most of their time developing all kinds of activities and enjoying the powers that they do not enjoy in real life. We trust that we do not reach that situation of abandonment of the real world, for when we have to return to it.
“The metaverse will be an extension of our own life, but on the Internet. The virtual will cease to be solely auditory and visual, and will acquire the key term of virtual reality: presence.” With these words, Laura Raya, director of the postgraduate courses in virtual reality at the U-tad University Center, describes it. “We will start to feel really present on the Internet, both physically and mentally.
A sensation not known before until the use of virtual reality spread in the different fields of application. A virtual personal presence that brings with it another experience of distance relationship more immersive and with more possibilities, “he adds.
From science fiction
The concept of a metaverse was first coined almost three decades ago by the American writer Neal Stephenson in his book Snow Crash (1993). What seemed a distant reality at the time, now seems to be much closer, although there are still many barriers to overcome. Once all these challenges have been overcome, the metaverse would allow any type of action to be carried out and would present itself as an opportunity for brands and companies.
They will be able to create new categories of products and virtual experiences, many of them without attending to the laws of physics. There is also talk that the metaverse will become a key testing ground for creating things that end up in the real world.
Video games like ‘Fortnite’, ‘Minecraft’ or ‘Roblox’ can already be considered a kind of metaverses in an embryonic state. In them, the participants not only play, but also collaborate, create their character, etc. However, the future idea is that the metaverse is more like open worlds and includes the freedom of action that we are used to seeing in other sandbox-type games such as the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or ‘Far Cry’ sagas, although without violence. .
Of course, all the experts are clear that for this to work there must be a single metaverse with standards that allow us to jump from one experience to another without a barrier. There is talk, among many other technical challenges, of the need to standardize a 3D object in a universal format, similar to the jpg that we use for photographs. Or that if a user buys a vehicle in one place, they can enjoy it throughout the metaverse.
Because here, let’s not fool ourselves, what gives impetus to the construction of this parallel reality is the possibility of monetizing, of doing business. And that’s where non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, come into play, the virtual assets that are traded in the metaverse. An NFT can be an image, a video, or a game item. Thanks to the blockchain, all kinds of intangible assets can be bought and sold. “As the metaverse brings a new dimension to the internet, brands and companies will need to consider their current and future role within it. Some brands are already breaking through and establishing a new genre of marketing in the process: direct to avatar ( D2A), “explains Nick Pringle, Creative Director at R / GA London. And it reminds us that Gucci has already sold a virtual bag for a higher price than the real one in ‘Roblox’, that Nike launched virtual Jordans sneakers in ‘Fortnite’, that Coca-Cola launched wearable avatar devices in ‘Decentraland’ and that Sotheby’s has an art gallery that the avatar can wander through at their leisure.
“I imagine the metaverse as a virtual world where we can replicate the social dynamics that we do in the physical world, but in adapted environments, where we can move in an instant and through our own personalized avatars. An open world, where everyone chooses who they want to be, with the facilities that the virtual has compared to the face-to-face, “explains Laura Raya.
For Juan Quintanilla, “I imagine that it should be something so natural that very few people would refuse to enter. The interesting thing about the metaverse is that anyone can be whatever one wants? And that’s where I find the attractiveness of this issue. I think it will allow us to go going further and living experiences that we could not imagine in our ‘real’ life. As a counterpoint, I believe that there are risks and that not everyone would be prepared to live in a metaverse. ”
For the graduate director of virtual reality at U-tad, security and the regularization of norms and controls of the metaverse should be an essential framework. “There cannot be a metaverse without a digital citizenship framework that regulates users and ensures privacy and security of their data,” he explains. For the CEO of Syntonize, it is true that there are still many challenges to solve.
“I think one of the main ones would be to get all the big manufacturers together to unify metaverses and be a transversal experience, to be able to jump from one world to another.” And remember another movie, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, in which the protagonist goes from one game to another from a central station. “Even so, I don’t think the technical issue is the main barrier, I think this would be resolved sooner or later.
The main barrier is people, I think it is still early days and we are not prepared to have full experiences in a metaverse. It is a cultural and social issue, “he points out. In this, it is enough to check the changes in attitudes even in the young population. While older millennials spend part of their free time browsing social networks, generation Z and generation Alpha tend log in to explore virtual worlds, connect with friends, and attend digital experiences.
An extension of our life
We asked the experts what it would bring us to move to that virtual world in which we will continue to pay for goods that we will not be able to touch?
“The metaverse is considered as an extension of our life, in which we can do things differently and in a different way. We do not only speak socially (attending concerts, events, teleworking, meetings, meeting people, sharing virtual experiences, etc. ), we are talking about the activation of a new virtual industry that nurtures this metaverse and its avatars.
The purchase of virtual goods through electronic commerce in the virtual world, the maintenance of the objects and functions of the metaverse, the appearance of new positions of I work both for the construction and maintenance of the metaverse and virtual jobs within that world that offer virtual services to users.
Will the metaverse be accessible to everyone? Won’t new gaps emerge? Juan Quintanilla responds: “For me, it makes sense if it is aimed at everyone, although without a doubt it is starting with younger people, because they were born with it and they see it as something natural. Precisely, I think it will be open to everything the world and that there will be opportunities to be someone you long for. However, the richest, as in the real world, will have greater options to improve. I do not think it will change. In the end, whoever pays has more options ” .
A metaverse without gaps
At this point, no one is surprised that, when we browse the internet, the experience is increasingly personalized. According to the searches we have made, according to our previous interests, some content or others appear. Not only on streaming video, music or book content download platforms, but also at a quick glance on the web. And that customization goes to more.
The maximum customization experience will most likely arrive in the metaverse, which we can translate as a space in creation ‘beyond the universe’. It is the next technological stop, resulting from the mix of virtual reality, social networks, video games and the internet of maximum speed. That parallel world, let’s say that in another dimension, will offer us the possibility of being who we really want to be, without limits even for Physics. We are talking about a hypothesis, of course, of something future, of one of those technological projects that we see on the horizon … But for now Mark Zuckerberg has already announced the hiring of 10,000 people to bring that metaverse to life.
The video games ‘Fortnite’, ‘Minecraft’ or ‘Roblox’ can be considered a prelude to that metaverse for which we may have to prepare ourselves. We already know how fast times have changed lately … Even with an incipient idea of that metaverse, many questions assail us: Will the norms (moral, ethical, civil?) Of this world be replicated in the metaverse or will they be different ones ? On what values will these regulations be based? Who will be the authority to ensure compliance with these laws? Or are we prepared to live in a world without rules?
From a commercial point of view, companies can find a vein for their brands in this new reality, since at no time has it been said that we are facing an altruistic initiative … There is even talk that many companies will first present virtual editions of the products that we can purchase later in real life. It is difficult to understand that there are those who are willing to pay large sums for intangible goods, which they can only ‘enjoy’ during their disconnection moments playing a role different from real life in the fashion video game.
On the other hand, experience has already confirmed this point and companies take good note of this marketing possibility. Even so, there is still a long way to go towards a global metaverse, the only one that could be technologically feasible, where we could all jump from one experience to another without compatibility or standards issues. And, by the time that moment arrives, it is hoped that we do not create new digital divides in society because of the price that must be paid to access that new and magical reality.
What do the experts think?
Opinions are divided about the new reality that is revolutionizing the Internet these days. Some think that it is a technology that “will revolutionize the business world”, as it is currently conceived, with transparent appearances and ubiquitous employees, while others consider that it is an improved version of Virtual Reality. While the young beast discreetly pulls out muscle, Facebook surprises with the announcement of hiring 10,000 employees to promote the prodigy.
“The accelerator of ‘new work'”
Jonathan Escobar, CEO of ActioGlobal:
Metaverso supposes the real digital transformation of the way of working in companies; all that had been done so far were just steps in that direction. It means making the Phygital world (acronym for Physical + digital) a reality, where physical people from anywhere on the planet interact in one hundred percent virtual spaces that reproduce the physical world through bits.
From my point of view, one of the essential elements for the development of the metaverse will be the real time speech translation and the ‘natural language processing’. These technologies will be essential for the simultaneous translation of conversations and for human interaction with digital machines.
To the extent that we achieve the simultaneous translation of the different languages in the metaverse, we will be talking about a world in which localization will no longer matter because in a work room there will be people from anywhere in the world creating, collaborating, disagreeing . The place and the language will no longer matter. In contrast, empathy regarding cultural habits, synchronization in time slots and the quality of data infrastructures will gain weight.
Metaverso is the revolution of the business world as we conceived it until today. The walls become transparent, companies become ecosystems or platforms that integrate talent from inside and outside the organization from anywhere in the world, from any discipline and from any sector.
Companies disappear as places reserved for employees, to become connectors of the passions and capacities of talent. The metaverse will be the accelerator of new work, a revolution that will radically change how companies and individual work are, and that will further impose the need for speed, agility, effectiveness and for any company in the world to be, in essence, a digital company focused on understanding the data your customers provide.
“What if it were the future of the Internet”
Marc Bara, professor at OBS Business School:
By definition, a metaverse would be a “digital universe” in which its users could connect and interact within a virtual environment, emulating physical reality. It would be a typical digital space with realistic 3D graphics. So, in principle, the concept could seem like an improved version of Virtual Reality (VR) that is already in development and use especially in the world of video games.
Unlike the current virtual reality, which is used mainly for games, this virtual world could be used for practically anything: work, play, concerts, leisure … The term itself is not new, it has been decades since the human imagination he is thinking in virtual realities.
The enthusiasm for digital worlds and augmented reality appears every few years, but it usually disappears as users have a frustrating experience with the available technology. As advances in technology can enable these applications, the expansion and use of the metaverse may be approaching. In fact, the belief is that it could be a paradigm shift for virtual reality such as that brought about by the modern smartphone compared to the first mobile phones of the 1980s.
Now there is a feeling that, for the first time, the Technology is almost there, with advancements in virtual reality gaming and connectivity getting close to what might be necessary. That’s why 2021 is building up a lot of excitement about the metaverse among investors and big tech companies, and no one wants to be left behind if it turns out to be the future of the internet.
There is still much to improve
José Ángel Olivas, researcher at OBS Business School and professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha:
In the 60s and 70s the fathers of artificial intelligence said that in 15 years robots were going to do everything and this has not been the case. Something similar will happen with the metaverse.
Gradually it will tend to something like this, but we are very far away because there are certain components that have to improve a lot. If we want to make a videoconference in the metaverse, we will need, for now, a much higher level of communication, a 5G or 6G that lacks time to achieve. I think that for now the metaverse will be limited to the technical-scientific, work and leisure fields.