Investment bank Jeffries recently declared the Metaverse to be the biggest disruption to our way of life the world has ever seen – and financial firms see the Metaverse as a huge potential opportunity.
The Metaverse is an iteration of the internet that gives us a much more immersive experience. Users will be able to access the internet using an avatar, or the internet can come to you in an augmented reality experience.
You can already see examples of progress to the Metaverse today. If you Google “dinosaurs” you can see augmented reality versions of your favorite prehistoric creatures right in your room. You can also watch immersive concerts in Fortnight or dive into the world of avatar-based dating.
In this article, I will share the potential positive and negative effects of the metaverse on society. Let’s take a deeper look at how this innovative technology will change our world for the better and some concerns and challenges we need to consider.
Changes to how we play
We already have VR games available in major franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, and Doom. ABBA Voyage is a virtual concert experience that will feature digital versions of one of the world’s biggest pop acts, and DJ Marshmello and Trevor Scott have previously performed virtual concerts within the Fortnite platform.
We will continue to see an entertainment transformation in the way we watch sports and enjoy music. In the future, we will even be able to put on virtual reality glasses that will put us in the heart of the action, whether on the football field or on the big stage.
Shopping in the Metaverse
The metaverse is already changing the way we shop. IKEA was a pioneer with its Place app, which uses augmented reality technology to place furniture in our rooms so we can see what things will look like in our home or office.
Companies like L’Oreal and Avon allow you to virtually try on makeup through their app or website, so you can choose the perfect shade.
Apple lets you see their latest gadgets in your room using augmented reality, and Bolle not only lets you see what their sunglasses look like on your face – they even use AR and artificial intelligence to show you what the world will look like through different lenses! The Metaverse will continue to build and grow on these types of immersive retail experiences.
Transforming training and education
In the future, we will see the metaverse provide immersive and engaging learning opportunities in many different circumstances, including formal organizations and schools, lifelong learning, corporate training, and personal improvement.
Children can already take lessons by transporting themselves to different places and times, using immersive VR and AR technology. We’ve seen it before in Poland, where teachers are using the VR game Half-Life: Alyx to teach science lessons. Companies like Skanska also organize their health and safety training using virtual reality.
Virtual Health Assistants
The metaverse will provide new and innovative ways to take care of our health. Virtual reality counseling is already available, and therapists are using virtual reality glasses to provide exposure therapy to patients, so they can experience the situations that frighten them in a safe and controlled environment.
Surgeons are also using augmented reality technology to guide certain surgical procedures – and they can train in operations using digital twins.
At home, we have myriad VR and AR wellness apps at our disposal – you can even do guided yoga using augmented reality!
Metaverse Travel Technology
Hotels are already using virtual reality as a marketing tool by creating immersive experiences that attract new visitors. As consumers, we can take virtual reality tours all over the world, to places like Zion National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, or Dubai. In the metaverse we will be able to go practically anywhere in the world simply by attaching a helmet.
When we physically travel to a destination, we will also have access to guided augmented reality tours that will enhance our travel experiences and help us learn more about our surroundings.
Create new things in the metaverse
The metaverse will also transform the way we create new things. Engineers, entrepreneurs and creators are already using digital twins – virtual replicas of objects – to simulate what things will look like in the real world.
Formula 1 uses digital twins to create new racing cars and test them on virtual circuits. NVIDIA now offers an omniverse where you can create the complete architecture of a building in a virtual world, then put on your VR glasses and walk around that building at different times and in different situations. You can even see what the building will look like at sunset or when it’s full of people.
These types of co-authoring tools will become even more common in the metaverse.
The Challenges of the Metaverse
There’s also a downside to the Metaverse, and we’ll need to consider those challenges as we move into a more immersive virtual world.
These challenges include things like:
1. Confidentiality – The metaverse will potentially collect a lot of personal data about each user, including eye aversion, physical reactions, and haptics. How can we protect this data?
2. Protection of children – As children immerse themselves in the metaverse, how can we monitor what they do and see, in order to protect them?
3. Health issues – VR hangovers, post-VR sadness and cyber addiction are real – how can we combat the health issues of an immersive world?
4. Unequal access – How can we ensure that people have equal access to the technology needed to join the metaverse, including handsets, headsets, and connectivity?
5. Legal Matters – We will have to settle the regulatory gray questions of the metaverse. For example, when is a virtual act a crime?
6. Desensitization – As people enter increasingly realistic virtual worlds, how can we ensure that they do not become desensitized to violence, racism and misogyny?
7. Identity Hacking – We will all be using virtual avatars to navigate the metaverse, so protecting our identities will be essential. How to verify that users are who they claim to be in the virtual world?
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