The investment bank Jeffries recently said that the metaverse will be the biggest disruption to how we live that the world has ever seen – and financial firms are looking at the metaverse as a huge potential opportunity.
The metaverse is an iteration of the internet that gives us a far more immersive experience. Users will be able to enter the internet using an avatar, or the internet can come to you in an augmented reality experience.
You can already see examples of progress toward the metaverse today. If you search for “dinosaurs” on Google, 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 post, I’ll be sharing the potential positive and negative effects of the metaverse on society. Let’s take a deeper dive into 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 virtual reality games that are available within big franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, and Doom. ABBA Voyage is a virtual concert experience that will feature digital versions of one of the biggest pop acts in the world, and DJ Marshmello and Trevor Scott have already performed virtual concerts within the Fortnite platform.
We’ll continue to see a transformation of entertainment in the way we watch sports and enjoy music. In the future, we’ll even be able to put on VR goggles that put us right in the middle of the action, whether it’s on the football pitch or on the big stage.
Shopping in the Metaverse
The metaverse is already changing how we shop. IKEA was a pioneer with their Place app, which uses augmented reality tech to place furniture into our rooms so we can see how things will look within our home or office space.
Companies like L’Oreal and Avon enable you to virtually try on makeup through their app or website, so you can pick the perfect shade.
Apple allows you to view 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 are even using AR and artificial intelligence to show you what the world will look like through different lenses! The metaverse will continue to build on and expand on these kinds of immersive retail experiences.
Transforming Training and Education
In the future, we’ll see the metaverse providing immersive, 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 at different times, using immersive VR and AR technology. We’ve already seen this in Poland, where teachers are using the VR game Half-Life: Alyx to teach science lessons. Companies like Skanska are also conducting their health and safety training using virtual reality.
Virtual Healthcare Helpers
The metaverse will provide new and innovative ways to look after our health. Virtual reality counseling is already available, and therapists are using VR goggles to provide exposure therapy to patients, so they can experience the situations that frighten them in a safe, controlled environment.
Surgeons are also using augmented reality technology to guide certain surgical procedures – and they can train for operations using digital twins.
At home, we have a myriad of VR and AR wellness apps available to us – you can even do guided yoga using augmented reality!
Metaverse Travel Tech
Hotels are already using VR as a marketing tool by creating immersive experiences that lure in new visitors. As consumers, we can take VR excursions all over the world, to places like Zion National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, or Dubai. In the metaverse, we’ll be able to go virtually anywhere in the world just by strapping on a headset.
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.
Creating 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 is using digital twins to create new race cars and try them out on virtual tracks. NVIDIA now offers an omniverse where you can create the complete architecture of a building in a virtual world, then put on your VR goggles 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 packed with people.
These types of co-creation 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 these challenges as we move into a more immersive virtual world.
Those challenges include things like:
1. Privacy – The metaverse will potentially collect a lot of personal data on every user, including eye-tacking, physical reactions, and haptics. How can we protect that data?
2. Protection for children – As kids immerse themselves in the metaverse, how can we monitor what they’re doing and seeing, so we can keep them safe?
3. Health concerns – VR hangovers, post-VR sadness, and cyber addiction are real – how can we combat the health challenges of an immersive world?
4. Access inequality – How can we make sure that people have equal access to the technology needed to join the metaverse, including handsets, headsets, and connectivity?
5. Legal issues – We will need to sort out the regulatory grey issues of the metaverse. For instance, when is a virtual act a crime?
6. Desensitization – As people enter increasingly more lifelike virtual worlds, how can we make sure they don’t get 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 critical. How can we verify that users are who they say they are in the virtual world?
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