For those who have grown up over the past couple of decades, the steady development of the internet and the World Wide Web has become an intrinsic part of everyday life. It has seen the steady rise of social media platforms as a huge place of interactions, and the growth of online shopping as a preferred consumer choice over traditional shops and boutiques.
Online interaction now plays a significant part in business and professional life as well as in social and recreational activities.
And now, virtual reality is set to begin reshaping our online interaction in a significant and dynamic way.
Virtual reality vs physical reality
The concept of ‘virtual reality will already be familiar to most people. For many, it conjures up the image of a set of 3D goggles, which has typically been the domain of online gamers.
To understand where all of this is going, a simple understanding of the general concept of virtual reality is warranted. By pure definition, virtual reality is any artificially induced reality outside of the physical world in which we exist. In that sense, dreaming is virtual reality. When a user interacts on the internet, that too is virtual reality. Playing in an online site like luckynuggetcasino.com/nz/ which replicates the action of a real-world casino is a good example.
But now, the online reality is poised to take the next quantum leap to further augment that experience.
Facebook and the metaverse
The recent move by CEO Mark Zuckerberg to rebrand Facebook as Meta is perhaps the prime indicator of the future direction of the internet. In truth, it is more a significant change in direction rather than a mere rebranding, and the conglomerate’s platforms – Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – will be keeping their individual brand names. Many people who are only looking at the news superficially will view this as a simple marketing exercise; however, there is a deeper meaning behind the name and a deeper significance for the future.
Meta is short for ‘metaverse’ – a proposed online 3D virtual space that could be thought of as being the Internet 2.0. People have thus far experienced the internet as a 2-dimensional platform, and all user interactions with it have been akin to our experiences with television and film. Essentially our interaction – whether it be checking the news, gameplay, or social interaction on applications like Skype or Zoom – has been with a flat-screen.
The metaverse concept is set to take that reality to the next level, in much the same way that 3D movies gave traditional movies viewers an immersive 3-dimensional experience, with the incorporation of the third dimension of depth.
What will be possible in the metaverse?
The potential of the metaverse is based upon a fundamental key fact – the internet experience permits a user to find themselves virtually anywhere almost immediately.
This convenience has really driven the popularity of things like online shopping over traditional shopping – internet users can visit a range of sites, often based in different places around the world, instantaneously. It is possible for a musician in downtown Tel Aviv to view the latest guitar from a USA manufacturer and buy it online. A shopper in Melbourne, Australia, can buy shoes from Paris. Holidaymakers can hop from country to country online and select a holiday destination that best takes their fancy.
Now imagine all that with the ability to teleport instantly and experience those worlds as an immersive hologram, and the potential of the metaverse becomes clearer. It will be possible to visit and interact with friends and family on the other side of the world in an immersive virtual experience. Products could be displayed and conferences attended in a hologram reality, which cannot be realized in the present day 2-dimensional reality.
It’s virtually possible
The cynic might say that the move by CEO Mark Zuckerberg is an attempt to capitalize and control an emerging technology, and there is likely some truth in that. Critics suggest that a move to a fully integrated, interactive virtual world is an ambitious undertaking, and in many respects, it is.
However, in the same way, nobody really expected an online site that was set up to judge the attractiveness of students at Harvard University would become a part of everyday life for almost 3 billion people worldwide less than two decades later.