What Is Metaverse? The Development of New Virtual Worlds
By 2026, a quarter of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse, according to a study by Gartner. Experts predict that users will visit virtual offices, classrooms and shops, build houses in the digital space and even buy land.
The concept of a metaverse gained attention after Facebook changed its name to Meta in 2021 and announced a major investment in metaverse projects. Then the metaverse development was announced by Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox and other corporations.
We tell you why there is so much noise around the topic, how all this will change the world and people’s lives, and when it will become a reality.
The metaverse is a digital space that combines ordinary or physical, augmented and virtual reality. This is a progressive virtual world in which you can do almost the same thing as in real life, but with advanced features.
One of the first references to the metaverse appeared in the 1992 novel Avalanche by science fiction writer Neil Stevenson. In the book, it was cyberspace which embodied the next stage in the development of the Internet. It was possible to live in it, shop, search for information, develop territories and look at almost anything using an avatar. Virtual reality helmets, glasses and other attributes were used to constantly stay online.
The book and the term itself were remembered after Mark Zuckerberg’s statement in July 2021. Then he announced Facebook’s plans to create its own metaverse, and later renamed the company Meta and announced the beginning of the development of the idea.
Of course, this metaverse will be different from the worlds featured in the cyberpunk books and movies, but the concept is very similar. According to Mark Zuckerberg, everything will look as if you are not just surfing the Internet but are right on it. Complex technologies and metaverse developers help to create a single space in several realities. Getting into this world, a person becomes a three-dimensional avatar and experiences a full range of sensations, and returns to ordinary reality in the form of a hologram.
Metaverse is a convenient and well-packaged term that clearly conveys the image of the Internet of the future for users. It is needed to simply explain the complex bundle of technologies that constitute Web 3.0 — the next step in the development of the Internet we are used to and the transition from a centralized system to decentralization. The end product of this round of the “web” history is convenient for many to see as a kind of three-dimensional world built on the blockchain. Within it, social and economic ties between user avatars are continuously developing.
7 Characteristics of the Metaverse Technology
- Combining physical and virtual worlds, open and closed platforms, and private and public networks into a single digital space.
- The presence of its own economy — people and companies, can receive some remuneration for their work and dispose of it right here: spend, invest, exchange.
- The an unlimited number of users who can be there at one time.
- Continuous existence. The metaverse does not reset, end, or pause.
- Work in real-time, not dependent on external factors.
- Compatibility of data, items, content, and assets that are transferred between digital worlds.
- Filled with experience and content created by its own users.
VR Helmets, Avatars, and NFTs: How the Metaverse Project Works
Entering the metaverse is like going online, but with an added immersiveness. To get into the virtual world and get a full experience, you will need virtual (VR) or augmented (AR) reality helmets, tactile gloves, and suits.
In his interview with The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg said that the metaverse would work on VR headsets, mobile devices, and game consoles. According to him, users will be able to feel the things that two-dimensional applications do not allow to feel — for example, the presence of people.
Communication and interaction in the metaverse will be possible with the help of avatars. The workplace will also change — the Horizon Workroom service will help equip it to suit your tastes. The same applies to a virtual home — you can buy a ready-made apartment and furnish it with various digital objects.
The company is also going to introduce augmented reality glasses under the working title Project Nazare. They will be equipped with a holographic display, a projector, chips, cameras, sensors, and speakers. However, in February of this year, it became known that Meta disbanded a team of 300 developers who were working on a universal operating system for virtual and augmented reality devices. The company chose to limit some of the costs associated with this project.
Another example of an immersive augmented reality assistant is the Hololens AR headset from Microsoft. It tracks a person’s gaze and hand movements to overlay virtual images and icons. This allows you to create use cases — the glasses tell you how to navigate, identify objects and interact with the ordinary world in a virtual manner.
However, these technologies are not enough. Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney explained that in the metaverse, users would be able to move from one world to another, retaining their appearance and objects, and having different experiences of events, while remaining socially connected with each other.
This requires a new programming model that will be like a live and open evolving platform where millions of users move seamlessly from one world to another. Such a model does not yet exist.
According to Tim Sweeney, the technological infrastructure should be based on a decentralized system like blockchain since it is a public network that is not controlled by any entity. Its advantage is the secure fixation of property rights and automatic transactions through smart contracts.
An example of how a blockchain-based metaverse work is the Decentraland virtual reality platform based on Ethereum. On it, users buy plots in the virtual world, communicate with each other through digital avatars, and attend events created in this space. The blockchain-based experiment includes true ownership and gamified social functionality.
The NFT, a non-fungible token or virtual digital unit in the blockchain network, plays a key role in the metaverse. With it, you can register ownership of any digital object: clothes for avatars, a virtual home or furniture for it, tickets to events.
NFT will protect the right to digital property and virtual property, which means it will help to standardize purchases. This could form the basis of the economy of the metaverse.
More Organic Interaction: Who Creates the Metaverse and Why
Unlike the usual digital avatar from computer games, the metaverse user avatar will provide full involvement in the process. A person will not have to look at the screen for hours, as now, it will be a hit in the virtual space itself. You can do almost anything in it: tactilely and verbally interact with other people, travel, and go to events.
This format will simplify the workflow — why rent an office if you can create a virtual space and gather employees from all over the world in it. Great opportunities will also open up in the field of education: users will be able to study in virtual classrooms with other students, practice driving skills, or practice playing the piano.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is needed not for people to interact more actively with the Internet but for more organic interaction. The person will find himself on the other side of the screen — in a three-dimensional space where there will be real conversations and no correspondence in the messenger.
Many companies supported this idea and also announced the creation of their own metaverses. Let’s talk about a few concepts in more detail.
The metaverse development company has been developing the metaverse since the beginning of 2021. Mark Zuckerberg said that they want to attract more than 10 thousand employees to work. The company creates virtual reality helmets, a headset for virtual and augmented reality, and since last year has been testing Horizon Worlds, a VR platform where people interact by controlling three-dimensional avatars. It is it that will become the basis of the Metaverse project.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that in the coming decades, the metaverse will become part of a multi-trillion dollar global economy. Back in 1991, the future head of the company created the game ZZT. It became popular due to the fact that in it, players could create their own mini-games using the world editor.
In 2011, the company introduced Fortnite, a free-to-play battle royale game with multiple game modes. From a shooter, it has also turned into a virtual entertainment center, on the site of which world stars have already performed.
Tim Sweeney envisions the metaverse as something no single company can own — like the Internet. He believes the next few years will be a corporate race for a billion users, and whoever gets them first will be the leader in setting the standard.
Epic Games plans to invest in the development of the Unreal Engine game engine, which will create new VR and AR projects. A year ago, the company raised a billion dollars to develop its metaverse.
Microsoft also took on the development of its metaverse. The company is focusing on Microsoft Teams, a remote collaboration service that plans to integrate Microsoft Mesh mixed reality technology. Microsoft Mesh will allow you to create virtual spaces — for example, offices. Real people will visit them in the form of avatars, and they will be able to connect to the service through VR devices — glasses and a headset. The technology will unite users of different devices in one virtual space.
The founder of Roblox Corporation and the Roblox gaming platform, David Bazooki, also talks about the metaverse as an opportunity to work remotely. We are talking about virtual 3D meetings where you can watch presentations together or make business acquaintances at a cocktail party. He envisions creative collaborations growing in number and scope, from digital activities like game design to fashion and architecture.
The Roblox online multiplayer platform provides game creation tools. At its core, this is close to the concept of the metaverse, and the platform itself has already attracted millions of players. David Bazooki himself calls it a three-dimensional social platform where, together with friends, you can find yourself in different places and situations: dine at a pizzeria, try to survive a tornado, or visit a bird.
The founder of the company believes that the metaverse will bring people from all walks of life together and help create a digital civil society. But before that, corporations that are working on the creation of metauniverses must unite. A single virtual space needs common standards to accommodate different applications. Whether the companies will be able to agree among themselves is another question.
Skills Required for a Metaverse Developer
If you want to study metaverse, you will need to master a number of distinct talents. The majority of people who want to become Metaverse Developers are unaware of the necessary abilities. Metaverse is fundamentally built on augmented, virtual, and mixed reality, which also serves as the foundation for all apps and software developed for it. To become a Metaverse developer, the individual must master these abilities. Aside from that, the individual must have strong programming abilities in a certain language.
It is one of the fundamental prerequisites or abilities required to become a Metaverse Developer. The primary programming abilities would necessitate knowledge of programming languages such as Java, Swift, Python, and others. Aside from that, students must comprehend instructions and ideas such as control logic, encapsulation, loops, and so on. Learning these languages is not the same as remembering the idea and logic, which is the most important aspect of becoming a Metaverse developer.
Software Development Skills
Assume you wish to work as a Metaverse developer. In that scenario, you should be able to create and develop many types of Metaverse apps in gaming, online development, and mobile app development. Because metaverse will be utilized on a variety of devices, the developer must be able to create apps for each platform. In addition to development abilities, the developer should be familiar with designing UI/UX designs and linking Apps to APIs. They should also be familiar with leveraging third-party libraries to enhance or add new functionality.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality cannot or will not establish a metaverse. The combination of all of these technologies has been dubbed XR or extended reality. Before they begin producing applications and software in the metaverse, every Metaverse Developer must study and perfect the notion of XR. The metaverse developers should be familiar with all of the XR terms as well as the ideas.
These software development kits facilitate the creation of apps and software by Metaverse Developers. Wikitude, Vuforia, and others are popular SDKs for Metaverse developers. These XR SDKs comprise the architecture of existing metaverse development, which every metaverse developer must grasp before beginning development.
Creative Vision and Thinking
This is one talent that the user possesses naturally. You will not be able to design fresh and innovative Metaverse applications unless you have a creative vision for the platform. Metaverse developers must offer immersive and engaging solutions that focus heavily on user experience. Metaverse developers with a creative vision will be able to optimize and build new methods for applications to engage with consumers in the most distinctive and engaging manner imaginable. Furthermore, design is one of the most important aspects of the metaverse, and developers cannot produce a distinctive and compelling design without a creative mentality.
Animation and Graphics
If you want to be a Metaverse Developer, you’ll need to study yet another ability. Animation and visuals are essential for developing effective applications for this platform since they allow programs to quickly engage with consumers to obtain data. As a result, you should be able to design application prototypes with suitable animation in order to deploy apps with the same sort of visuals and movement effortlessly.
Upgrading Your Soft Skills
You can never stop learning in the realm of technology. As a Metaverse Developer, you would need to stay up to current on new technologies and changes. You must be eager to learn about the newest Metaverse trends and technology. As an individual, you may keep up with the latest news and trends in Metaverse training, allowing you to be aware of the most recent additions and features. Additionally, improving your soft skills can help you expand your professional network and raise your profile.
“In the Coming Years, You Should Not Expect a Miracle”: What Is the Future of the Metaverse Development
According to Mark Zuckerberg, in five years, people will think of Facebook as a metaverse project and not as a social network.
Tim Sweeney is a little more careful in his predictions: he hopes that in 10 years, users will be able to play various online games in virtual worlds. The head of Epic Games is sure that before the advent of the metaverse development, companies needed to decide how to move from closed economies such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and tens of thousands of other games to the common space.
There are many collaboration and communication services: VRChat, Engage, Horizon Workrooms, as well as games with sandbox worlds like Minecraft, Roblox, and Horizon Worlds. However, all of them are still very far from a full-fledged metaverse technology.
Among the main criteria that are officially presented to the metaverses:
- interoperability — the ability to work on any device;
- decentralization — independence from any particular company or server;
- persistence, when the world lives its own life, even if you are disconnected from it.
Now companies and metaverse developers are looking for solutions: some focus on decentralization and blockchain, and others focus on immersive worlds.
In the coming years, you should not expect a miracle — except for the active phase of investing in the direction of the metaverses. The popularity of Meta Quest 2 VR headsets is growing at a rapid pace, but to form the foundation of Meta’s metaverse, it is necessary that these devices be in every home, by analogy with a computer or smartphone.
There is also the question of available computing power — according to the statements of the CEO of Intel Corporation, there are not enough computing resources in the world to support worlds of this level of detail. And then, there are legal and political aspects.
In the next three to five years, the appearance of a metauniverse is hardly possible. The full transition to Web 3.0 is due not only to insufficient computing power, expensive equipment and difficulties in collaboration of IT corporations’ products but also to the unpreparedness of users for new formats of interaction in the digital environment.
It is not yet clear to the average user why to register a crypto-wallet and then run around a cubic city as an absurd avatar, meeting people with microphones turned on on the way. The time of sessions of people who entered the conditional Decentraland out of curiosity is sometimes very short. But you should be interested in this now, at least reading the news about existing platforms. This will help not to miss the moment of thoughtful entry with an understanding of the possibilities for a particular user.
The implementation of the Web 3.0 concept will be a global technological revolution that is revising most of the usual processes both on the web and in the physical world. The fact that not only users and centralized individual companies but also states become participants carries great risks. All parties will have to not only launch process updates in parallel but also agree among themselves by linking their products, regulations, and subsystems into a single network.
The process of launching such a large-scale mechanism should greatly affect everyone, without exception. If all this becomes a reality, people will have to find a balance between the virtual and physical world so that the metaverse does not become the reason for losing touch with reality.
Technology can lead to new mental health issues, an increase in addicted users, an increase in cybercrime, and a threat to data and privacy. The list of cons and the possible seizure of power by corporations within the platforms are still in discussion.
At the same time, the emergence of the metaverse will open up many opportunities: a new level of communication, increased social interaction, increased levels of digital empathy, and improved work processes. In addition, new professions will appear, which will create jobs, and education can move to a completely different quality level.