The metaverse is an emerging 3D-enabled advanced space that leverages virtual reality, augmented reality, and other advanced web and semiconductor technologies to enable individuals to have both personal and business experiences online.
The metaverse carries different meanings for different people. Some view it as a digital playground for socializing with friends, while others believe it holds the potential to become a thriving commercial space for companies and customers. We believe both interpretations are correct. In June 2022, McKinsey released “Value Creation in the Metaverse,” a new report based on surveys of more than 3,400 consumers and executives, along with interviews involving 13 senior leaders and metaverse experts. Based on this research, we define the metaverse as an evolution of today’s internet, something we are deeply immersed in rather than merely observing. It represents the convergence of digital technologies to enhance and expand the use of cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), spatial computing, and more. Furthermore, the “enterprise metaverse” may evolve to offer more opportunities beyond serving as a virtual space for social interaction.
At its core, the metaverse will have three fundamental features:
- Immersive experiences
- Real-time interactivity
- User engagement
Ultimately, the full vision of the metaverse will encompass:
- Seamless integration of platforms and devices
- The ability for thousands of people to connect simultaneously
- Use cases extending far beyond gaming
The metaverse isn’t about escaping reality, as futurist Cathy Hackl suggests. Instead, it’s about embracing and enhancing reality with virtual content and experiences that can make life more enjoyable, help us feel more connected to loved ones, be more productive at work, and lead to greater happiness. According to Brian Solis, Salesforce’s Global Innovation Evangelist, the essence of the metaverse revolves around community and the sense of belonging to this community. Users should feel like partners rather than mere “users.”
Just as blockchain has powered the decentralized creator economy, rapid technological advancements promise to facilitate future metaverse experiences and interoperability between virtual worlds. The widespread deployment of 5G will enable users to access vast virtual worlds on mobile devices. Several other advances will foster metaverse growth:
- Back-end engines will lower barriers to content creation, allowing broader audiences to develop advanced games and experiences, leading to a shift from 2D web spaces to fully immersive environments.
- Edge computing will provide the necessary computing power to operate the metaverse. This approach allows data to be captured, stored, and processed locally rather than in the cloud, addressing issues related to limited bandwidth and latency.
- Hardware devices will bridge the physical and virtual realms. In 2021, Meta shipped ten million Oculus Quest 2 headsets, and additional devices like gloves and bodysuits are gaining popularity.
- Software development will drive metaverse applications on top of the infrastructure.
It’s important to note that the technology required to fully realize the metaverse’s potential does not yet exist. Advancements will be necessary in computing infrastructure, network infrastructure, and interface hardware.
Despite the promise of the metaverse, there are lingering risks. As Charlie Bell, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Security, Compliance, Identity, and Management, pointed out in a recent blog post, many of the challenges faced on yesterday’s and today’s internet, such as impersonation, credential theft attempts, social engineering, nation-state surveillance, and inherent vulnerabilities, will persist within the metaverse.