Singapore, in fact, the entire world has been buzzing with excitement since Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (formerly known as Facebook) announced the company’s name change and more importantly the launch of the “metaverse”.
With all the press coverage and promotional video content floating around since then, “web 3” as it is being slated looks and sounds like an amalgamation of Disney’s Space Jam (with LeBron James) and Free Guy (with Ryan Reynolds)… an awesome sensory digital world where we can properly exist.
As with a lot of excitement, comes a lot of confusion, and many people are unsure of what the metaverse will actually be, so as always here eAsean we have done a deep dive into what actually the metaverse is, and more importantly in two following articles we will look at how the metaverse will affect business here in Singapore.
In this article you will learn about three core ideas...
- What is the metaverse?
- What will the experience feel like?
- Interlinking Worlds
What is the metaverse?
Let’s break it down linguistically first. Metaverse is the combination of two words; meta and universe. We all understand the word universe, but it has been the word meta that has caused the most confusion.
If you work in SEO, you’ll obviously have heard about metadata (although I do think the use of ‘meta’ in this instance is incorrect but that’s for another article). Meta is the Latin word for Beyond.
So metaverse means Beyond Universe, but probably in this context metaverse means Beyond Our Physical Universe… a digital universe that sits just beyond our current physical existence… a place which Zuckerberg describes as the “next frontier in social connections”.
I know! that all sounds pretty grandiose, but what does it actually mean?
Meta (formerly Facebook) is developing technology, platforms, and experiences which build a real sense of presence… So no matter where you are in the world, once you’re in the metaverse the experience of interacting with others will feel real, imagine the implications for online business in Singapore?
The metaverse is proposing an interactive, experiential, and (very importantly) sensory digital world which exists side by side (or layered on top of) our physical world.
Check out this awesome video where Mark Zuckerberg chats with Gary Vee about the metaverse…
Zuckerberg when announcing the metaverse goes on to say “we believe the metaverse will be the successor of the mobile internet” a sector he rightly claims to be limited, as there is only so much you can do with a (15cmx7cm) mobile phone.
But with the metaverse “we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people”, he said.
Meta hopes to have a billion people on, or probably more precisely living on/in the metaverse by the end of the decade. He wants to create the metaverse as a digital world that feels real like people are together with a real “sense of presence”.
The operative word in the last sentence was ‘wants”, because the metaverse is not out there yet, it’s being built now. Meta has invested $10bn into the project in 2021 alone… so it might not be too far away.
The technology at the center of the metaverse is VR virtual Reality… Facebook’s (now Meta’s) purchase of Oculus (for $2bn in 2014) is now starting to make a lot of sense, as Oculus headsets will shape the experience in the metaverse.
Supporting VR and probably an easier rollout technology will be AR augmented reality, again Facebook’s (now Meta’s) partnership with RayBan earlier in the year, when they launched AR sunglasses now makes sense.
For those who don’t know about AR, Augmented Reality is a technology that adds a digital layer on top of our physical world, so if you have an AR app on your phone or you’re wearing AR glasses you will see digital information on top of the physical objects you’re looking at… Just like this scene from Free Guy.
So what will the experience look and feel like?
Be it VR or AR, the metaverse is all about environments of interaction. It’ll be a digital world where we interact at work or at play… socializing at home (or at some new cool digital hangout) meeting at the digital office, working out at the digi-gym, going to a concert or a game (with a friend who lives 5,000 kilometers away) or even a place where we can try out the latest fashion.
In VR you will be able to customize your Avatars (come as a souped-up version of yourself or as a giant Robot, whatever your preference) and digital spaces… you’ll be able to decorate homes/living rooms, offices, social places, and many more locations with pictures, videos, books, furniture and art (NFT’s will explode).
Imagine inviting your best friend over (who lives in New York) to your digital living room, with it fully decorated and your latest NFT art taking pride of place or going to a group meeting/presentation in a digital office (glitchy zoom meetings will be a thing of the past).
With AR we will be able to use Hologram technology to place people in our physical spaces with us, so you could meet a friend for a game of chess or a chat, or you could have your personal trainer pop over to help you with your work out (even if they’re thousands of miles away).
Over time these technologies will fuse together to create a truly remarkable hybrid experience and space.
Really interesting, the metaverse is being created so you can seamlessly interlink between different digital worlds, where users can move from Facebook worlds (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp) to Google, or to Apple or to gaming worlds like Fortnite.
This seamless connection of worlds opens up the possibility of what consumers can do and how long they will stay there. But what does the metaverse mean for business here in Singapore?
How will the metaverse affect business in Singapore?
If done properly (and all indications are that it will… $10bn investment in 2021 alone) and properly embraced by users, the metaverse has the potential to affect life as we know it, and in turn, fundamentally affect business as we look to create solutions to every aspect of life affected in the metaverse.
As businesses, we will have to think about how the metaverse a) enables us/consumers to live more in the physical world and b) how consumers will live more in the metaverse.
Or to pose the idea in modern parlance, how will the metaverse affect the representation of identity in the physical world, and how will it affect the representation of identity in the digital space… the answers to these questions and a look at some cool short term business ideas continues in two follow up articles…