The metaverse. Whether you love it or hate it, it is commonly discussed and even more so after Facebook rebranded as the telling ‘Meta’.
The term metaverse was first used in the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, but has since become more widely adopted and is increasingly becoming a reality.
But what the metaverse actually is, is often unclear. This very subject, along with what it will take to make the metaverse happen, was the subject of the final panel hosted at the DCD>Connect New York event.
“It's going to be a very immersive digital experience, where everyone will be able to engage, immerse, transact, and experience things in full virtual reality,” said Sami Badri, senior equity analyst at Credit Suisse.
“There's going to be multiple phases of this, there's going to be a build phase for the infrastructure and the hardware, then there's going to have to be a software component.
“Where things start to get really interesting is when transactional information like currency exchange, as well as virtual experiences begin to converge into one thing. The destination is basically life in full virtual reality.”
We are already seeing this in gaming – a sector where things like virtual reality are becoming more prominent and sophisticated. It is this kind of experience that, according to Zach Smith, managing director at Equinix, we can use to guide our expectations of the metaverse.
“Games are agile. They're constantly evolving content pieces. A lot of those just emerging have virtual production, real-time production, graphics engines, etc, that are creating extremely realistic experiences.
“I think that what's starting to occur is people, whether in business or in their social lives, are starting to find that virtual experiences can be pretty compelling. I think that we're in the very early stages of that, not only from a content creation standpoint but also from a technology standpoint. We haven't really hit that inflection curve yet.”
So, what will it take to build the metaverse? According to Sami Badri, we can break that down into three steps.
“The first kind of building block of this whole thing is going to be infrastructure. Obviously, that includes the fiber, the data centers, essentially anything that's going to allow a greater capacity of transmission.
“The next phase of this is to get the hardware right. You could possibly see the infrastructure and the hardware done around the same time. So the next phase is getting the VR goggles, and then getting consumers to actually buy them.
“The third piece, which I think is probably going to be the most challenging, is getting enough developers to develop content and avatars and skins and all these other elements to the Metaverse, because the actual Metaverse experience is going to require significantly more graphic density than anything we've ever seen.”
So, it’s doable. Should that be reason enough for it to be done? If we know anything about technology – the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Development for the sake of development has been a contributing factor to the law of accelerating returns we have seen in technological developments so far, so there is no reason to expect it to stop any time soon.
Are you ready for the metaverse?