In July 2021, Facebook’s main founder and CEO announced that a team of experts would be working together to bring the metaverse to life. However, the metaverse name can be traced back to the infamous 1992 novel by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash. Following this announcement by Zuckerberg, their head of hardware division officer was promoted to chief technology officer starting the year 2022.
What Exactly is the Metaverse?
The metaverse can be defined as the internet’s iteration as an immersive, interactive virtual experience that employs augmented and virtual reality headwear. Thus, the metaverse is a 3D virtual world that offers a social experience of entertainment and connection with other users.
How did Metaverse gain so much popularity?
Due to the demand for more immersion, the metaverse has been in the works to create a new augmented reality using artificially intelligent avatars that can indulge as many people as possible, all connected at once. The most recent development of the metaverse was influenced by a diffused internet iteration called Web3. However, both iterations have some drawbacks stemming from a well-founded concern about videogame addiction and information privacy on social media sites.
Some components of the metaverse have been in use for some time now, especially with online video games. The Second Life was a virtual platform in 2003 and is usually described as the first metaverse. It was made possible when the platform incorporated users’ social media aspects into a 3D iteration, presenting the users as avatars.
In 2019 tech giants Facebook launched Facebook horizon, a virtual world social convention. Fast forward to 2021, Facebook’s founder renamed the famous brand Meta Platforms as part of the company’s commitment to developing the metaverse. It is, however, notable that many of the intended virtual technology has yet to be implemented, and critic whistleblower Francis Haugen has publicly called out Facebook for not ensuring user safety on their platform. Meta platforms have received significant backlash due to sexual harassment claims. Coupled with other technological roadblocks, this has seen the platform lose $10 billion on the metaverse development department, and the CEO has been quoted talking about expected operating losses during development to increase correspondingly in 2022.
Since rival tech company Microsoft bought AltSpace Virtual Reality, they have implemented metaverse features on the platform with meetings held in virtual reality using avatars, especially on Microsoft Teams. Future applications of the metaverse will extend into fashion, real estate, e-commerce, and robust learning environments.
Several access points for the metaverse include; smartphones and smart devices, modern generation computers, and mixed augmented and virtual reality. The primary dependence on virtual reality technology has stunted the growth of the metaverse and its adoption as a tool worldwide.
Concerning Problems that can define Metaverse’s Future
There has been a trending concern of social media tools conducting data mining on its users and selling this information to other websites. It is pretty well-founded as, on more than one occasion, content search on one app like Instagram could be traced, and once you log on to WhatsApp or Facebook, suggestions on the search engine are always almost, most of the time, about similar content.
With several hardware limitations like wireless headgear failing to achieve retina display pixel density and portable hardware not balancing the cost and design, there has been a deficit of high-quality graphics. Worldwide adoption is also stalling due to implementation costs of hardware like virtual reality headgear ranging anywhere from $300 to $3500 in 2022.
There are also concerns that the metaverse might be a digitally alienating space. Several critics like Keza McDonald of the Guardian say the metaverse could be a reprive for worker discrimination and prejudice. He argued that the metaverse development was being done at the expense of dwindling world resources by capitalists looking to make more money using different avenues.
Due to concerns about user privacy, interoperability has been a significant software hindrance to the worldwide adoption of the technology. Current implementations are sorely dependent on proprietary technology, which has been a considerable hindrance.
There have been ethical and health concerns with the former stemming from abuse of social media engagement provisions manipulating users with biased content. The latter has been argued that the underside of an internet addiction disorder and videogame addiction could have consequent physical and mental repercussions. This would include depression and anxiety. There have also been significant health concerns about having a sedentary life; sitting in virtual reality for prolonged periods increases the risk of obesity and other heart-related conditions.