Foundations of the Metaverse: origins and perspectives

Born from the English contraction of “Meta” and “Universe”, the Metaverse is a concept that has been talked about a lot in recent months. If its applications are limited for the moment, the prospects for the future of the technology are real.

The Metaverse: a more or less recent notoriety

If the fame of the Metaverse is recent enough, the origin of the word does not go back to yesterday. The term was in fact coined by the American writer of science fiction and alternative history Neal Stephenson. The latter is the first to describe him in his novel: “The Virtual Samurai” released in 1992 (“Snow Crash” in its original version). Then it presents the Metaverse as a virtual 3D world where individuals, through avatars, interact with each other but also with characters generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The term Metaverse is now used more to describe a future version of the Internet where virtual spaces would be accessible by 3D interaction. Unlike a game, this new virtual world would constantly evolve, even when users logged out. In their absence, other people would continue to evolve and the world would change day by day.

The fields of application of the Metaverse

Using augmented reality technology to superimpose the virtual world on real life, the Metaverse could be a game changer in many areas : creation of immersive 3D spaces, videoconferencing and innovative remote training, new generation events, 3D commerce, avatarization… Even on the entertainment side, changes could occur. Virtual concerts would become the norm. The audience would then move as they pleased to get as close as possible to the artist. Along the same lines, tourist sites could offer ultra realistic virtual tours. Visitors could then move around in an imaginary environment using glasses and joysticks.

Metaverse Perspectives: What’s Next?

Are we currently close to a true Metaverse? This is the question. At the time of writing these lines, the obstacles to the advent of technology are still numerous. Among these are the hardware limitations of a persistent digital environment, the problem of energy consumption or even that of personal data. Other dangers are also reported, such as the fact that technology can act as an “emotional refuge” and create some addiction.

However, the development of the Metaverse can occur naturally. Indeed, in the future, internet users are likely to spend even more time online and thus more closely associate their identity with their digital life. In any case, the giants of Silicon Valley believe in its potential and are making colossal investments in this sector. There is still a long way to go and it will probably be full of pitfalls. However, the topic deserves to be followed closely.

(Photo credit: iStock)

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