With the renaming of Facebook to Meta, the word metaverse once again came to the fore. Although Metaverse is not a new term and dates back to at least thirty years ago, but with the widespread development of technology, the possibility of creating and full access to Metaverse has been provided. Increasing the speed of the Internet around the world, creating decentralized and secure platforms for building applications, and creating virtual world-realizing devices are among the reasons for Metaverse progress. In this article, we answer the question of what is Metaverse by examining its features. The technologies used in Metaverse, the large companies active in this field and the applications of Metaverse are among the other topics that are comprehensively and completely examined in this article.
What is Metaverse?
“Metaverse” is a combination of the two words “Meta” meaning “beyond” and “Universe” meaning “world”, which together mean “beyond the world”. The term first appeared in the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. The world that Stephenson has created in this novel is such that people in the virtual world, using their avatars, associate with each other and trade, and even fight and defeat their rivals.
What is presented as a metaverse in the world today is similar to Stephenson’s story, except that the concepts presented are no longer stories, and different parts of it are becoming a reality day by day. The virtual world is beyond the physical world, to which people connect using different hardware and software, and with an independent identity, they can perform various activities such as attending a concert, buying and selling, participating in a competition, and holding a business meeting.
With the spread of science and technology, many everyday activities in the real world will be possible in Metaverse, and the cycle of human activities is likely to change dramatically in the coming years. The point to note about Metaverse is that Metaverse is fundamentally different from existing cyberspace and social networks. In the following, we will examine this issue in more depth in the section What are the characteristics of Metaverse.
What are the basic features of Metaverse?
In the What is Metaverse section, it was said that Metaverse is very different from existing cyberspace and social networks. In fact, it can be said that the creation of cyberspace and the expansion of social networks is a prerequisite for the construction of Metaverse. Metaverse has three basic and key features, and these features show the fundamental difference between the world of Metaverse and the existing cyberspace. “Presence”, “interoperability” and “standardization” are the three basic features of Metaverse, which we will discuss the meaning of each of these features in the following.
What is the feature of “presence” in Metaverse?
“Presence” in the metatarsal space means that when people are in this space, they should feel as real as possible and touch the space in it. In the virtual world, part of this feeling is created by voice and video calls. Naturally, video calling makes people feel better than voice calling and chatting, but the two-dimensional image created in video calling still fails to convey the true sense of presence without the environment being the same for both sides of the contact.
In Metaverse, they seek to increase the feeling of presence by using new devices and technologies. An example of this type of presence can be experienced using 3D and multidimensional glasses. Using these glasses and screens, users are able to touch the world around their audience in three dimensions. In addition, having sensors in the head, arms and legs, it is possible to simulate movement and touch in this space.
What is the feature of “interoperability” in Metaverse?
The second major feature of Metaverse that makes it so different from the current virtual world is the “interoperability” feature. The feature of interaction means that the different worlds created in the meta-space must be able to interact with each other. This means that if you have a car in a transfer game, you can use it to travel to another transfer world. With this feature, you will be able to carry your virtual assets with you in all available spaces and sell or trade them if needed.
This feature does not exist in cyberspace today. The personality you have on Instagram, for example, and the content in which you have registered yourself as an asset, has nothing to do with your content and profile on LinkedIn. In addition, many buying and selling transactions can not be done without the help of centralized tools such as the banking system. Keep in mind, however, that seamless interactivity can cause problems for users, and in addition, many companies that work on Metaverse do not benefit much from the interaction. Therefore, interaction in this space is also unlikely to be borderless.
What is the feature of standardization in Metaverse?
The “Standardization” feature is a practical attempt to set standards for the construction of equipment and applications so that different transformations can support common features, thereby enabling interaction between different platforms. Without setting a specific standard for this work, the efforts of different companies in this field will be meaningless. Naturally, standardization does not necessarily mean providing complete freedom to interact with different platforms.
Assume that 3D tools made by Facebook are not usable on other application platforms. In this case, users have to buy special tools to use each platform. This both imposes a high cost on users and reduces the likelihood of expanding the Metaverse. Therefore, standardization of activities in Metaverse is a vital part of it. This standardization is developed by companies and individuals active in the field of Metaverse. One of the issues that helps to achieve this feature is the use of blockchains because many third generation blockchains can interact with each other.
Philosophy of Metaverse creation
The desire to create is one of the basic characteristics of human beings that distinguishes them from other beings. This desire has existed throughout the history of mankind and has led to the creation of new tools and technologies. Newly created tools, in turn, have led to the creation of new cultures and fundamental changes in human life. Metaverse can be considered as a creative idea that allows people to participate in their favorite activities more than before by removing some limitations of space and resources.
In the first and second industrial revolutions, human beings increased the efficiency of their activities through the division of labor, which led to the separation of the production process from consumption. In the Third Industrial Revolution, with the creation of the online platform, online data became an important commodity, and today many transactions and information transfers take place through these platforms. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an intelligent revolution is taking place in which human beings are more connected than ever before. There is a convergence component in this age in which simultaneous production and consumption occur.
In the offline world, according to the Pareto Principle, the focus is only on goods, concepts and needs that are 20% in high demand, but in the online revolution, according to the concept of “Long Tail”, it is possible to focus on the needs of 80% low demand. The Fourth Revolution unites the two worlds in various fields of production, procurement, finance, education, medicine and other everyday issues. In the first to third industrial revolutions, the problems of supply and demand of goods were considered and solved. In the fourth industrial revolution, attention has been paid to the personal interests and spirits of human beings, which is done by converging between the real and virtual worlds.
Combining virtual and real worlds in Metaverse
Metaverse represents an alternative world whose properties are not achievable in the real world. There are political, economic, social and cultural interactions in Metaverse that are based on imitation of the real world. The relationship between the metaverse and the real world can be summarized as follows.
On the Minecraft virtual reality gaming platform, which is an example of Metaverse, Berkeley University students celebrated their graduation with virtual characters due to the limitations of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and even threw their graduation caps. The same thing has happened with the Sandbox platform for virtual concerts. In Metaverse, users can trade goods and services based on the method provided on the platform. This means that money in bit units can replace real-world money.
Technologies involved in Metaverse
As stated in the What are the Basic Characteristics of Metaverse, Metaverse seeks to create a world beyond the physical world in which many real-world activities are possible. In addition to these activities, other activities that can not be done in the real world can also be done in this world. Activities such as time travel, traveling to the celestial spheres, talking to the avatar of the dead are all activities that can be done in Metaverse. But which technologies make this possible for human beings? In the continuation of this section, we will review the main technologies involved in Metaverse.
What is Augmented Reality in Metaverse?
Augmented Reality (AR) is an advanced version of the real physical world created through the use of visual, audio and digital sensory stimuli. The concept of augmented reality was first introduced in computer games where people could use special headsets to view the physical world with more and more complex features. Today, augmented reality is increasing its scope and ranges from various manufacturing industries to medical care.
One of the main features of augmented reality is the placement of objects made in cyberspace next to other real objects, which is done using special screens. In addition, virtual objects in augmented reality must be geometrically compatible with real objects. Otherwise, a good image will not be created for the user.
The third feature of augmented reality is that the user must be able to interact momentarily with virtual 3D objects in this space. This interaction must be such that the virtual object also responds immediately to the user interaction. For example, the user in this space can open the window and the window can be opened with this command.
With these explanations, we can answer the question of what is the use of augmented reality in Metaverse. At Metaverse, we seek to create a virtual world where virtual objects can be placed next to real-world objects and give users a sense of being real in the world. This can be done using augmented reality technology. You do not need a headset or any special hardware to experience these features, and in many augmented reality applications, you can see the combination of real and virtual worlds just by having a mobile phone. However, the use of headsets and other similar devices can provide more capabilities to users.
Although the main use of augmented reality is in computer games and other entertainment industries such as watching 3D movies, but augmented reality is used in 3D modeling, virtual education, business, tourism industry, navigation system and various other fields. Pokemon is one of the augmented reality games in which the real world environment becomes a place to play. This game does not require a headset or other device, and you can connect to it and start playing using the game application and the phone’s camera.
What is virtual reality in Metaverse?
Virtual Reality or VR is the experience of a simulated environment that can be similar to the real world or have completely different features. In virtual reality, using the best hardware and advanced graphics, a simulated environment with artistic features is created, in which you are not a passive participant and are fully involved in the conditions in space.
In these systems, with a virtual reality headset, you enter a three-dimensional world that resembles the real world and gain a new experience of being in cyberspace. In these programs, your position in the game space is determined and using the screen, you are able to see a three-dimensional effect. Virtual reality typically uses video and audio feedback, but can also use touch sensors to provide tactile and sensory feedback. As you can see, in virtual reality, unlike augmented reality, there is no connection with the real world.
Virtual reality is now more widely used than augmented reality. One of the products of Meta Company is “Horizon Workrooms”, which is also known as “Meta”. This product is a virtual reality space that organizations can use to hold business meetings. In this space, there is a meeting table that different people can connect to using glasses or video calling. People’s voices are adjusted based on their distance around the desk, and it is possible to write virtually in the whiteboard of the application space.
What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality?
In general, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are in line with each other and their goal is to create a virtual environment by combining real information so that people can use them to experience a sense of realism with others without being with them.
The differences between the two technologies can be summarized as follows.
- Augmented reality uses real-world information, but virtual reality is completely virtual.
- Virtual reality users are controlled by systems, but augmented reality users control their presence in real and virtual space, and these two types of presence are practically interdependent.
- Virtual reality requires a headset while augmented reality is also accessible with a smartphone.
- Augmented reality improves both real and virtual worlds, while virtual reality seeks only to enhance imaginary reality.
What is artificial intelligence in Metaverse?
“Artificial Intelligence” refers to the sciences that seek to intelligently operate machines using the model of natural intelligence found in humans and animals. Artificial intelligence technology enables various machines and tools to take appropriate action by understanding environmental conditions. For example, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence can type text when you hear it, or even translate it into another language.
In Metaverse, huge amounts of diverse data are created due to user activity.This data can be textual, visual, audio or even geographic data. In blockchain-based Metaverses, these data each have a unique identification tag that is used as traceable data. This data is a suitable input for artificial intelligence in Metaverse, which can be used to improve the Metaverse operating system or to obtain information from their users.
Metaverse uses artificial intelligence alongside blockchain technology to create a digital virtual world in which individuals are able to operate freely in a variety of economic and social activities without engaging in real-world constraints. It can be said that both of these technologies will play a major role in the development and expansion of Metaverse.
Artificial intelligence, along with technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain and augmented reality, can play an important role in the development of Metaverse evolution.
What is blockchain technology in Metaverse?
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, real-world affairs became virtual data, and the analysis of generated data led to new changes in the real world. The important point in this conversion is whether real-world information is reliably converted to data in the virtual world, and whether individuals are able to maintain their privacy in this space. In the virtual world, how to gain people’s trust is a very important issue, which is one of the most colorful technologies to build trust in blockchain technology.
Blockchain was first introduced in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Blockchain is a technology that allows you to securely record transactions without trusting the other party. A blockchain consists of a set of blocks, and inside each block are individual transactions, the blocks of which are interconnected by cryptographic algorithms. The “Consensus” process is used to ensure the accuracy of the information, in which people from all over the world try to find the next real block, but in the end, one of the blocks is accepted as the final block.
To select the final block, the consensus process requires different methods such as the Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm and the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm. During this process, the user who creates and registers the correct block is rewarded with new coins generated in the network, which is called mining.
The blockchain, like other technologies, is advancing. The goal of the first generation of blockchains was to innovate in the financial system, which was achieved by introducing Bitcoin and Altcoins such as Litecoin. This technology is significant because it is a decentralized and secure global financial system. The second generation of blockchains is related to the period of automation of normal life using Ethereum smart contracts. This technology led to the development of blockchain applications in various aspects of life.
In the third generation of blockchains, the focus is on technological constraints to expand the applications of blockchain and make it a stronger system than conventional traditional systems. Third-generation blockchains have dramatically increased their scalability by changing the consensus algorithm and offering new solutions so that they can be used for more general activities. Solana and Cardano cryptocurrencies are among the most famous third-generation blockchain. Artificial intelligence and blockchain of the third generation have basic applications in Metaverse.
The main role of the blockchain in Metaverse
The first reason for the importance of the blockchain in the world of Metaverse is to create a secure platform for people to communicate without any private or government organization having a role in providing information security. This is important because your private information is no longer available to organizations so that they can completely disregard your privacy. On the other hand, by decentralizing activities in this space, governments are not able to restrict different people, and all people can use it by adhering to the principles of the blockchain.
In addition, the blockchain plays an important role in implementing the economic system for Metaverse. Without the presence of the blockchain, the Metaverse economy will eventually be controlled by one person or organization. Also, it will be difficult to identify the goods and items used in the Metaverse world and trade them as in the real world. The advent of blockchain technology based on non-fungible tokens (NFT) has led to faster growth and development of Metaverse. The blockchain and the third-generation Internet together have paved the way for the Metaverse world.
In Metavars, people scan their appearance and enter the virtual world with their 3D avatars. Therefore, the characters in Metaverse are not just game characters and are known as members of a group in society who have unique characters. In addition to avatars, people in Metaverse are able to create objects that are unique. NFT technology can be helpful in proving the uniqueness of all these tools and individuals.
The Metaverse world is a three-dimensional world that requires a large capacity of storage servers to store its information. However, controlling this information through a central server can be costly. In such a situation, it is possible to use the distributed and decentralized system of blockchain, the storage and processing space of all people in the world to maintain information security and not incur additional costs for the system. This feature also prevents the monopoly of Metaverse by large companies.
Which companies are working on creating Metaverse?
Although after the change of Facebook name to Meta, the public attention has been drawn to the field of Metaverse, but there are many large companies that have been operating in the field of Metaverse for a long time. In the continuation of this part of Metaverse, we want to examine the most famous companies active in this field.
Roblox is a video game platform that sees Metaverse as a place for people’s virtual communities where people can learn, work, play, create and socialize. The company aims to provide users and developers with ways to create a digital and virtual world. The CEO also talks about the possibility of buying and selling objects on the platform, where the platform economy will grow with the “Robux” currency.
Microsoft is one of the largest software companies in the world trying to create an enterprise Metaverse. The company owns the well-known computer game companies Xbox and Minecraft, and is a key player in the field. Recently, the Xbox boss talked about the company’s plans to create a Metaverse structure.
Apple is one of the technology giants of the world that can use its capabilities to play a major role in creating the Metaverse. Apple has Apple Maps, which is critical to augmented reality applications, as well as an augmented reality development framework called ARKit, to build an ecosystem of augmented reality and virtual reality hardware developers. Apple has also begun manufacturing augmented reality glasses and is expected to launch in the coming years. In addition, Apple has begun piloting the use of blockchain platforms.
Nvidia is a computer chip company that has integrated its Omniverse platform to connect 3D worlds to a virtual world. In the real world, this platform is used to simulate construction projects and factory activity chains. The CEO believes that this platform can be used as a basis for the construction and operation of Metaverse.
Facebook, nicknamed “Meta”, is one of the world’s newest technology giants, with more than three billion users on social networks around the world. Recently, the company changed its name to Meta to introduce itself as a company active in the field of Metaverse. Meta executives estimate that by the end of the current decade, more than one billion people will be working in the simulated Metaverse.
The company has long invested in augmented reality and virtual reality, and its virtual reality environment called “Horizon” is available through headsets made by the company called “Quest”. Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg sees Metaverse as more than just a virtual space where people feel and share that sense of presence in interactions with others.
In Facebook’s Metaverse, people enter the Metaverse space with their 3D avatars, which is more realistic and not just an image like the current cyberspace profiles. It will be possible to use the facilities built in other platforms such as cars and clothes in this platform.
Amazon is the largest e-commerce company in the world, accounting for a large volume of e-commerce. Amazon is looking to launch a Metaverse blockchain network that could create a global economy and trade in three dimensions. For many people, buying some goods such as shoes and clothes in the electronic space does not seem logical because just looking at a picture can not be aware of its suitability. In the Metaverse space, using the created platforms, it will be possible to perform this type of exchange. Amazon has also invested in many areas.
Walt Disney is one of the most famous companies in the field of animation, which has shown great interest in entering the world of Metaverse. In order to create avatars and 3D tools, 3D design and animation companies can play an important role in Metaverse. The company plans to create a virtual park using artificial intelligence and other technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Snapchat, owned by Snap company, has long been working on custom avatars and augmented reality filters to cover real-world digital features. In 2021, the company unveiled its first true augmented reality glasses, which are now available to developers.
What are the uses of Metaverse?
So far in the article, we have talked about what Metavars is and what companies are trying to create it. We also examined the answer to the question of what are the features of Metavars along with the technologies used in it. In this section, we want to recount the uses of Metavars in order to have an overview of what may happen in Metavars.
Application of Metaverse in the gaming industry
It can be said that the gaming industry is one of the first industries that has used various technologies used in Metaverse. We already have games that are part of Metaverse and have used a combination of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Blockchain technologies to create their Metaverse. But in the future, these games will become more realistic and will be more advanced in terms of spatial, social and interactive compatibility than current games.
Currently, many Metaverse blockchain games, such as Sandbox and Decentraland, do not use augmented virtual reality glasses and headsets, but in future games, these types of devices are likely to be more used to be more fully integrated. The desired properties of Metaverse were achieved. Unity and Roblox are two well-known platforms that have made it possible for millions of game developers to create and deliver games. And they will probably play an important role in this area.
What is trading in Metaverse?
In some businesses, the customer must see and touch the product in order to make a purchase. This is especially true when it comes to buying clothes and shoes. In addition, in many cases, the specialist must visit the site or device to comment on the work. For example, an interior designer must consider it in order to comment on the layout of the house. Now, if the distance between the customer and the service provider is large, the business will practically reach a dead end.
In each of these cases, Metaverse can provide the required services without the physical presence of the customer or specialist by providing a platform for observing, touching, examining and testing the goods. This both reduces shipping costs and leads to the growth of online commerce in many areas.
Holding cooperation meetings in Metaverse
Tools such as Discord, Zoom, and Slack are used to collaborate between members and hold meetings. Although these tools have solved many of the problems in telecommuting, Metaverse makes this collaboration more realistic. Currently, some Metaverse platforms offer companies the ability to enter the Metaverse space with or without special headsets and experience close and real collaboration.
What are Metaverse social networks?
Relying on technologies and information to create a virtual world, Metaverse offers the ability to socialize through collaborative activities. In current social networks, communication between users is done by sharing text and images or audio and video conversations. In Metaverse, these connections will become more real and people will be able to communicate with each other through joint activities.
For example, in these systems, you will be able to go to a concert or cinema with your friends with special tools and avatars, and watch movies with each other there, and then gather and talk in a cafe. The improvements can go so far that you can order and taste coffee in the same cafe.
Application of Metaverse in real estate advisory
One way to fully view the condition of homes for purchase or lease is to use Metaverse. Using conversion systems, users will be able to view their desired homes online and in 3D, walk in them and, if approved, purchase them. Although buying through Metaverse does not make sense in the near future at this time, it is easy to review and review real estate information.
Application of Metaverse in tourism industry
One of the major commercial industries that is also environmentally destructive is the tourism industry. Many people have to pay exorbitant fees to travel and stay in the country to visit historical sites. Metaverse can easily provide access to various historical sites for users from all over the world. Currently, it is possible to visit many historical sites virtually. Most of these trips are static, prefabricated and solo experiences. As Metaverse progresses, it will be possible for you to be there with your friends in three dimensions, to walk in that space and view the works carefully.
Automotive industry and Metaverse
Metaverse can play an important role in the automotive industry. One of the applications of Metaverse in the automotive industry can be to create a space for simulation and modeling of car manufacturing. This space can be very useful for designs. Another application of Metaverse in this industry belongs to buyers. In Metaverse, people can test different machines in cyberspace with real sense and then decide to buy or sell products. Driving training is another car-related Metaverse application that people can use to actually learn to drive. The applications of this section are also true in other fields of transportation such as trains and airplanes.
Impact of Metaverse in the education industry
Although education was replaced by various virtual platforms such as Zoom and Google Classroom during the Covid-19 epidemic, these tools are still limited in the field of education. These technologies will change in the future as Metaverse makes education universal. Metaverse enables educators and teachers to hold their classes from anywhere in the world. In this space, the necessary tools for teachers’ creativity are included to make the learning and teaching experience more interesting and fun.
This affects all aspects of traditional training, corporate training and technical training such as washing machine repair with augmented reality. In Metaverse, many tutorials can be done automatically without a teacher. Also, it is possible to study the effects of various scientific phenomena in Metaverse by simulating their process. This saves on training costs and provides the results of various phenomena without harming the environment or individuals.
What is exercise in Metaverse?
Attending sports clubs to work with coaches is a time-consuming and difficult process. Using Metaverse technology, you can have a headset, put yourself in the most suitable places for sports, and turn sports into games by creating a simulated space like computer games. At the moment, these possibilities exist, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Therefore, in answer to the question of what is sports in Metaverse, it should be said that sports in this space becomes a game in which there is no need for physical presence in the club.
In addition, Metaverse can be very useful for spectators of sports games. If people can feel realistic in the stadiums using the Metaverse model, then, due to time and financial costs, most people will prefer to use the Metaverse to be physically present in the stadiums. The advantage of this system is that there is no limit to the number of spectators and people from anywhere in the world can connect to it.
Play live music on Metaverse
Nowadays, most people use recorded music and music videos to listen to music. This method will probably continue, but Metaverse will bring new experiences to this space. “Fortnite” and “Roblox” have previously given live music concerts to tens of millions of fans, but they were just the beginning.
Metaverse creates a whole new realm of interaction, community and added experience. Some of these experiences will be much better than regular concerts. Since there are no real-world restrictions on the Metaverse, the possibility of sitting in the front row seat changes from a rare item to a public item. Under these circumstances, the economy of the Metaverse world will also be different from the real world.