The metaverse is a new kind of virtual reality. It is an online, 3D digital world that can be explored using immersive head-mounted displays such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The metaverse is not just another virtual reality, it’s an open VR space where anyone can exist in a fully explorable 3D digital environment without having to have the time and money for hardware like these headsets. Instead, you merely need access to your personal computer or low-powered mobile device running software such as MetaWorld. The metaverse has been around since the mid 30’s, but recently some new trends in VR have led to an increase in excitement and awareness among the public.
The release of films like ‘Avatar’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’, along with improvements in the technology behind VR, have sparked interest in the metaverse. See these top metaverse companies currently working on exciting projects. The recent Oculus Rift Kickstarter (and later, Facebook’s purchase of Oculus) has also caused millions of people to talk about VR tech and start searching for ways to get involved with it. There are major companies making dedicated VR headsets (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive). Even though these headsets are still very expensive for most consumers, investors are keen on funding new ventures that utilize this fantastic new technology.
The metaverse is a virtual world where everyone can share and interact with each other in real time, from anywhere on the planet. It is the culmination of 30 years of work by VPL Research and other pioneering companies to create a real 3D virtual world. The metaverse of today is not the same metaverse I visited as a teenager in 1984. It was called NetworkWorld at the time and it was an early VR chat room with primitive 3D avatars. I kept going back to NetworkWorld to make friends with new people who were logging in every day. In those days there were no mobile phones or expected 24/7 connectivity (even internet access was rare). I was in an environment where I could make friends any time I wanted. These days, I would have to rely on a friend driving to somewhere near me in real life and showing me around for a few hours. I remember that NetworkWorld had no real business model – it was growing organically and we expected it to grow forever. Yet the death of NetworkWorld did not mean the end of the metaverse; on the contrary, it was the beginning of something new – MetaWorld. I believe that VR will change our lives in many ways and will bring wonderful new experiences to billions of people all over the world.