The metaverse is a concept in which a digital space is created through the interaction of virtual, augmented and physical reality. The main aspect is to unite the various spheres of action of the Internet into one reality. The concept is often described with a strong focus on virtual sociality; a future iteration of the Internet, in the form of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces connected to a perceived virtual universe. These are intended to enable individualization and everyday activities to a comparable extent to physical reality.
The advancements for the metaverse are often linked to the advancement of virtual reality technology due to the desire for more immersion. Recent interest in the development of metaverses is influenced by Web3, a concept for a new, decentralized generation of the internet. Both the term Web3 and metaverse have seen increased use as buzzwords to outpace the development progress of various related technologies and projects for public relations purposes. Similar to the social media and video game industries, privacy, media addiction, and user safety are considered heightened concerns within the metaverse.
As of August 2023, the crypto metaverse has a market cap of $7 billion to $12 billion. Historically, financial projections have diverged widely: J.P.Morgan estimated in October 2022 that the metaverse could reach a value of $1 trillion, McKinsey projected a valuation of $2022 trillion in June, and Citigroup predicted a value between $8 trillion and $13 trillion.
Metaverse Technology : Hardware and Software
Commercially available computers and smartphones, but also augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality are being considered as access points for a metaverse.
However, the heavy dependence of metaverse developments on VR technologies has so far limited widespread public acceptance. So far, VR technology lacks either the necessary mobility or the sufficient graphical capabilities to create believable immersion. Another problem for the widespread adoption of the technology is the costs incurred, as VR headset prices range from $300 to $3500.
Therefore, hardware development to date has focused on overcoming the corresponding limitations of VR headsets, their sensors and increasing immersion with haptic technology.
To date, there are no standardized metaverse implementations, and existing implementations rely primarily on proprietary technology. Interoperability is one of the main concerns in the development of metaverses, due to concerns about transparency and privacy. Vehicles can also serve as a gateway to the metaverse.
Notable projects include Universal Scene Description, which NVIDIA has adopted as a metaverse development tool since 2021, glTF, a Khronos Group specification for the efficient transfer and loading of 3D scenes and models, and OpenXR, an open standard for accessing virtual and augmented reality devices and their content. The latter has been adopted by Microsoft for HoloLens 2, Meta platforms for Oculus Quest, HTC for HTC Vive, Qualcomm for the Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform, and Valve for SteamVR, among others.
The crypto metaverse refers to blockchain-powered, connected digital environments in which users, represented as avatars in digital landscapes, interact using cryptocurrencies and enable the buying and selling of various digital assets such as virtual land, avatar items, and other digital goods. Ownership of digital assets is usually represented in the form of non-fungible tokens. Companies are using the crypto metaverse to promote products and services and facilitate consumer interaction with brands. For example, consumers can purchase digital items in Gucci Town, Vans World, Nikeland and Ralph Lauren Winter Escape in Roblox’s crypto metaverse.
Research shows that the real estate industry in the metaverse is comparable to that of real-world real estate, with peaks being achieved near major landmarks, famous landowners, memorable addresses, and busy streets. In December 2021, an investor paid $450,000 for a digital plot of land adjacent to Snoop Dogg’s virtual mansion in the sandbox. Research shows that crypto metaverse investors can be divided into four main groups: those who are attracted to aesthetics and identity through self-expression and innovation; those seeking social connections and community engagement; those who focus on speculation and investment; and those interested in technological innovation and disruption.