While we look up (or rather don't) as several masters race to find the fastest and best way to launch people into space, other tech companies here on Earth are tinkering with the next big thing.
So now we're taking the next step. On to the metaverse. But what is the Metaverse and why all the hype coming out of Silicon Valley and making the rounds in Europe? And is the Metaverse relevant at all?
The term "metaverse" comes from the 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash," where it refers to a virtual reality in which people interact with each other as avatars. The idea of the tech entrepreneurs working on it in Silicon Valley is a shared virtual space in which everyone is networked. The virtual worlds of the Internet and things in the real world will be connected. Technology experts talk about the metaverse growing into a fully functioning economy in just a few years and becoming fully integrated into our lives, just like today's daily reading, shopping, playing, chatting and communicating on the Net.
For a few months now, there has been news about the launch of mixed reality and augmented reality glasses from Apple. The new glasses are expected to be as revolutionary as the iPhone, serving as your hardware for all your activities in the metaverse.
Transactions for real estate in digital worlds have been rising sharply for months. Real estate investing in the Metaverse is very speculative, no one can say for sure if this is really going to be a boom or the next big bubble. The money in these digital worlds is cryptocurrency, as finance in the Metaverse is powered by the blockchain. Anyone can buy or trade art or houses in this virtual world in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are blockchain-based collectibles that are digital representations of real-world items. The NFTs serve as proof of ownership and are not exchangeable.
Fashion retailer Ralph Lauren is currently opening virtual stores on an online gaming platform. There, you can dress your avatar in Ralph Lauren's new winter collection. And luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton also see great potential in this type of virtual shopping and offer virtual outfits for money in the Metaverse. Many virtual luxury products are now purchasable that would be hard to pay for in the real world. You dress your avatar cheaply with high fashion labels that would cost hundreds of euros in the real world. Or you let your avatar try on the new trend look in the virtual world and then have the look sent to you in the real world.
Why don't we all meet and store in this world every day already? So far, it's because we don't have the necessary technical hardware and the very fast computing power to make it possible to operate in virtual space. In addition, there will have to be optimizations in the implementation of content in the area of artificial intelligence and virtual applications in order to be able to move quickly and optimally in the metaverse.
The question today is also what rules there should be in the Metaverse and who will determine the Metaverse. A single tech company or several smaller business units from different companies? There will certainly not be one metaverse. Many companies will shape this new world with products and services in the future.