First Frontier of the Metaverse is shaping up to be the next stage of the internet, and both global companies and startups have turned to develop related technology. What exactly is the metaverse, and what is its business potential? Will it have social or moral repercussions? The answers to these questions may well impact the way future generations will live and work.
It is possible thanks to technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. In virtual reality, users feel present in an artificial digital environment (for example, in an alternate universe) by putting on special glasses. On the other hand, augmented reality superimposes digital layers onto the real-world environment. It is achieved by having users view the natural world through a mobile phone screen, such as in the Pokémon GO game, or through digital glasses.
Market Potential Encourages Competition
According to calculations by the firm Morgan Stanley, the market potential of the metaverse reaches the staggering figure of 8 trillion dollars. With that currency at stake, some of the world’s leading brands are taking ambitious steps to develop and launch their versions of this future world of commerce and performance. Sony, NVIDIA and Disney are among the companies rumour to be developing related technology.
Microsoft Makes Its Most Significant Acquisition Related To The Metaverse
Microsoft, for its part, planted another flag in the virtual world in January 2022, when it paid $69 billion for gaming company Activision Blizzard. This computing “heavyweight” has developed HoloLens, a virtual reality-related headset that displays digital holograms.
The Virtual Marketplace Of A Japanese Startup
While the tech giants perfect their technology, a startup from Japan is already active in this space. Nikky has held its Virtual Market approximately every six months since August 2018. Only 1,500 people attended the first edition, but since 2020 it has always had more than a million visitors from all over the world.
The Latest Edition Of Virtual Market (Courtesy Of Nikky)
Visitors must don a headset to enter the Virtual Market, a multiverse of simulated shopping. And entertainment worlds that includes cityscapes based on Tokyo’s Shibuya and Akihabara districts. Nikky uses various tactics to make the event immersive; among them is replicating the weather of the natural world: if it’s sunny, rainy or snowy in Shibuya, the same will happen in Virtual Market. Virtual Shibuya also has taller buildings as the number of visitors increases.
Buildings That Grow As The Number Of Visitors Increases (Courtesy Of Nikky)
Although this world is an illusion, more and more firms are convinced that the opportunities to make money are authentic. Leading retailers, service providers and entertainment companies are signing up to promote their goods and services within the Virtual Market. The event has become one of the largest and holds the Guinness World Record for the most significant number of stalls in a virtual reality market.
Social And Moral Repercussions Of The Metaverse
While the frontier of the metaverse has seemingly substantial business opportunities. One expert warns that it also has a dark side, vulnerable to corporate exploitation. Louis Rosenberg, CEO of Unanimous AI, who has been working in virtual and augmented reality for more than three decades, says: “It’s not the technology of the metaverse that is of concern. It’s the power that the frontier of the metaverse will give to the companies that control the That’s because to create these simulated worlds, the infrastructure needs to know a lot about all the people involved.” Rosenberg describes risks as the three “m’s”: monitor, manipulate, and monetize.
Why Is The Metaverse Likely To “Monitor” Users?
When it comes to “monitoring,” Rosenberg warns that the metaverse has the potential to elevate privacy and surveillance concerns caused by today’s internet to a new level. “Platform wage-earners will be able to track what people do, where they go, and what they look at; where their gaze goes and how long they continue to look. The technology will likely observe people, evaluating their facial expressions, vocal inflexions, and even signs. Vital”. He says the technology needs to monitor its users to create rich simulated experiences in the metaverse. But if the information is misused, the damage to society could be catastrophic
Are The Regulators Ready For The Metaverse?
Regulators are already grappling with managing the negative externalities of today’s digital technologies. Personal data collection, privacy, and fake severe issues significantly affect the fabric of our society. And the way organizations interact with their customers and collaborators. Most likely, the metaverse will amplify these challenges and introduce new ones. Our access to the metaverse will be through virtual and augmented reality devices in the short term. These will not only allow us to interact in the metaverse but will also allow companies to track increasingly personal data
Frontier of the Metaverse such as facial expressions, blood pressure, eye gaze, and more. Current laws and data regulations will need updating across multiple vectors. From equal access to security, liability, intellectual property and digital rights, and honest self-representation.