NEAL Stephenson presents THE NAAMKARAN CEREMONY - “Metaverse”

Novelist Neal Stephenson devised the term “metaverse” in his 1992 science discipline-fiction innovative “Snow Crash,” 30 years ago which predicts a cybernetic reality-based successor to the internet. In the novel, people use digital avatars of themselves to sightsee the connected world, habitually as a way of absconding a dystopian authenticity. Hence the credit for imposing this name goes to him.



Construing Snow Crash — Stephenson’s 1992 novel that employs a substantial expanse of its narrative in the Metaverse — 20 years after its publication is a mysterious experience. Mostly, the Snow Crash’s Metaverse is precisely what Big Tech wants the forthcoming to appear like, with the capability to leg in and out of a computer-generated world at will. It also bears almost no semblance to the cartoonish, legless officebased avatars we’ve seen from the likes of Meta and Microsoft.


Stephenson’s Metaverse is retrieved via exceedingly focused goggles (what we’d today know as VR headsets), either a personal pair (expensive) or a public terminal (less expensive). Doing so is instantaneous and all-encircling. You are elated and teleporting to an overloaded metropolis with the 100-meter-wide road leading in and out. That road circles a perfectly round, black sphere of space with a circumference of 65,536 kilometers. Most of the virtual world is nothingness. It is a densely populated urban center with almost no other development.

To be thrown into Snow Crash’s Metaverse is to become your avatar. The Metaverse experience is always first-person; your in the virtual world becomes your reality. It is easy to lose yourself in the Metaverse, here, and many choose to do just that, never unplugging from their headsets. Much of the Metaverse mimics the real world — you can’t teleport, for example, and can only use a monorail or walk — but it is still an escape. It is an alternate reality.

What exactly is the metaverse all about and why has it become the talk of the universe?

Hop into this article as we are

Entering the metaverse.

The metaverse is “a unified web of 3-dimensional worlds.” These worlds are retrieved via a virtual reality earpiece — operators circumnavigate the metaverse using their eye movements, response controllers, or speech guidelines. The headset submerges the user, thought-provoking what is usually known as their existence, which is fashioned by engendering the physical consciousness of actually being there. To see the metaverse in

accomplishment at present, we can look at prevalent enormously multiplayer VR games such as Astro Bot or Arizona Sunshine where contestants custom the usage of avatars to intermingle with each other and deploy their milieu.

But the extensive submissions yonder gaming are confounding.

Instrumentalists and acting labels are trialing with hosting their magical music concerts in the metaverse, Seems like you’ll soon see Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande singing their next album in the metaverse. The sports industry has also joined the bandwagon with topmost charters and franchises such as Manchester City which has started building virtual stadiums so that fans can experience the games in the comfort of the metaverse.

Perchance the outermost-reaching breaks for the metaverse will be in computer-generated learning and organizational services. This is the prevalent outset of the metaverse a VR-based world independent of our corporeal one where individuals can entertain and engross in a seemingly infinite diversity of virtual experiences, all reinforced by its own alphanumeric economy.

More than virtual reality.

But there are tests to overwhelm before the metaverse can accomplish extensive, global implementation. And one key task is the “virtual” part of this universe.

While VR is considered a key ingredient of the metaverse recipe, entrance to the metaverse is not (and should not) limited to having a VR headset. In a sense, anyone with a computer or smartphone can tap into a metaverse experience, such as the digital world of Second Life. Offering broad accessibility is key to making the metaverse work based on VR’s continued uphill battle to gain traction with consumers.

The VR market has seen remarkable innovations in a short period of time. A few years ago, people interested in home VR had to choose between expensive computer-based systems that tethered the user or low-cost but extremely limited smartphone-based headsets.

Now we’ve seen the arrival of affordable, ultra high-quality, portable wireless headsets like Meta’s Quest line, which has quickly become the market leader in home VR. The graphics are sensational, the content library is more robust than ever, and the device costs less than most video game consoles. So why are so few people using VR?

On one hand, global sales of VR headsets have been growing, with 2021 being a banner year for headset manufacturers, who had their best sales since 2016’s flurry of big-brand VR device releases. But they still only sold around 11 million devices worldwide.

Getting people to even use their devices can be a challenge, as it’s estimated only 28 per cent of people who own VR headsets use them on a daily basis. As numerous tech critics have pointed out, the VR mainstream revolution that has been promised for years has largely failed to come to fruition.

Virtual movement, physical discomfort

There are a myriad factors, from missed marketing opportunities to manufacturing obstacles, as to why VR hasn’t caught on in a bigger way. But it’s possible that using VR is inherently unappealing for a significant number of people, particularly for frequent use.

Despite impressive advancements in screen technology, VR developers are still trying to address the “cybersickness” — a feeling of nausea akin to motion sickness — their devices elicit in many users.

Studies have found that neck physical discomfort may present another barrier, which may remain an issue as long as VR requires the use of large headsets. There’s also research to suggest that women experience much higher levels of discomfort because the fit of the headset is optimized for men.

And beyond the physical challenges of using VR is the isolating nature of it: Once you put on the headset, you’re separated from the world around you,” writes Ramona Pringle, a digital technology professor and researcher.

Certainly, some are drawn to VR to experience heightened escapism or to interact with others virtually. But this disconnection to the physical world, and the uneasy feeling of separation from people, may be a significant hurdle in getting people to voluntarily wear a headset for hours at a time.

Mediated, magical worlds everywhere

Augmented reality (AR) experiences may hold the key for the metaverse to reach its true potential. With AR, users use their smartphone (or other device) to digitally enhance what they perceive in the physical world in real-time, allowing them to tap into a virtual world while still feeling present in this one.

3 technologies that will shape the future of the metaverse – and the human experience

  • The word 'metaverse' has entered common usage, but there remain different ways of conceptualizing and defining it.
  • The metaverse will be shaped by the technology we use to access it, which could include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and brain-computer interfaces (BCI).
  • Major technology companies including Apple, Google, Meta Platforms (Facebook), Microsoft, Niantic, and Valve are developing the tech that will shape the future of the metaverse.

Over the course of 2021, the word ‘metaverse’ entered common usage, inspiring a lively global debate about what it represents, whether it’s already here, and who will own it. But in 2022 we still don't have an accepted definition of what it is. This has been satirized on the tech website The Verge: maybe you’ve read that the metaverse is going to replace the internet. Maybe we’re all supposed to live there. Maybe Facebook (or Epic, or Roblox, or dozens of smaller companies) is trying to take it over. And maybe it’s got something to do with NFTs?

In order to explore the possible implications of the metaverse, we need to understand exactly what it is. The attempts at a definition can be categorized into three schools of thought.

The metaverse in theory 

1. The metaverse as a product or service:

In January 2020, author and investor Matthew Ball published the most commonly referenced description of the metaverse: “an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that […] can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”

According to his definition, the metaverse is a product or service, with seven core attributes including persistence, synchronicity, and interoperability. The technology strategist Ben Thompson has argued, however, that this description is in fact not far from what the internet already is and does, only “with a 3D layer on top of it”.

2. The metaverse as a place:

The metaverse has also been described as a place where users can connect, interact, and transfer themselves and their belongings across multiple digital locations. Examples that come to mind include gaming and creator platforms like Roblox, Epic Games’ Fortnite, or Manticore Games’ Core, in which players and their avatars can seamlessly transition from one virtual world to another.

3. The metaverse as a moment:

More recently, the startup entrepreneur Shaan Puri came up with another definition, describing the metaverse as a point in time. Specifically, the metaverse is the moment at which our digital lives – our online identities, experiences, relationships, and assets – become more meaningful to us than our physical lives. This perspective puts the focus on the human experience, making the transition to the metaverse a sociological shift instead of a technological one.

The metaverse in practice

The third definition is compelling in part because it focuses on those who will actually build and use the metaverse: people. Answering questions about how the metaverse might look and feel —rather than pondering about its features—could prove a useful viewpoint to predict the wave of socioeconomic change that the metaverse is expected to unleash. After all, the future is built by ruthless pragmatists; not the armchair theorizers who meander the forest of their own words.

And if technologists are right that 2022 will separate thinkers from builders, then last years’ technical advances will produce this year’s first steps towards making the metaverse a reality. Progress will, in large part, be attributed to ever-improving graphics processing units (GPUs), photorealistic 3D engines, faster content generation through volumetric video and artificial intelligence, the increasing prevalence of cloud computing and 5G, as well as more sophisticated and better-understood blockchain infrastructure.

But from the perspective of the human experience, one development stands out above all others: extended reality (XR) technologies. These include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and brain-computer interfaces (BCI), which together position themselves as the next computing platforms in their own right.

Today’s metaverse: virtual reality as the “digital escape”

Over the next few years, the metaverse is expected to manifest itself primarily through virtual reality – an alternative, digital world that can be used for a variety of personal and enterprise purposes. Recent high-profile announcements by Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, and Sony, all suggest that headsets like Meta Quest or Sony PSVR will be the consumer choices to navigate interactive and social 3D environments.

Virtual reality is focused on creating a digital sense of presence, which many experts agree will be key to creating an attractive experience and retaining users. Mark Zuckerberg claims that the metaverse – in the form of popular videogames – is already here. Many tech experts expect to see Meta acquire a major gaming franchise in 2022, following Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and Sony's $3.6 billion purchase of Bungie. The company's Oculus app (soon to be rebranded Meta Quest) was leading the app store this holiday season, during which Meta may have sold as many as two million VR headsets.

This vision maintains a separation between our digital and physical selves. Virtual reality will only ever replace certain aspects of the human experience. Critics claim that relying on a handful of VR device and content manufacturers to build the metaverse will replicate, or even reinforce, the ‘walled gardens’ that exist on the internet today: distinct, closed ecosystems that are controlled by the operator.

This is a strong contrast to the future envisaged by advocates of Web 3, who believe that the metaverse should act as a counterbalance to the power held by large technology companies. It should be an opportunity to decentralize the experience, control and monetization of the internet in favor of its users (or citizens) and content creators.

Near-term metaverse: augmented reality to enhance – not replace – the human experience

“A lot of people are talking about ‘the metaverse’ these days. Coming off eighteen months of Zoom, Netflix, and Doordash, you can count me out – at least in the form that most folks are imagining,” wrote John Hanke, the CEO of tech company Niantic in a recent blog post. He argued that digital technology shouldn’t compete with physical reality, and that most people don’t enjoy prolonged experiences inside virtual worlds. According to Hanke, the metaverse should improve, rather than replace, human experiences. 

He is not the only one to articulate this argument: Philip Rosedale, who oversaw Second Life, an online social platform launched in 2003, has recently argued that the metaverse is "not for everybody". But Niantic’s vision is predicated on augmented reality (AR), which unlike VR doesn’t completely cover and replace a user’s field of vision. Proponents of AR claim that the metaverse of the future will be based on synthesis of the physical and digital worlds. The latest funding round valued Niantic at $9 billion, suggesting that at least some investors agree.

Recent and forthcoming AR product launches from companies such as North (Google), Snap, Nreal, and Tilt Five demonstrate the potential of AR, alongside the limitations that need to be overcome for it to truly take off. But with companies engaging in a tech talent war, and rumours of new hardware from the likes of Apple, AR’s ‘iPhone moment’ may not be far away.

Long-term metaverse: brain-computer interfaces, the ‘final platform’

Perhaps the most far-reaching vision for the metaverse involves braincomputer interfaces (BCIs). All models of XR today rely on screens and traditional control systems, even if some devices have also worked with the senses of touch and smell. BCIs aim to replace screens and physical hardware entirely. Technology such as Neuralink requires neurosurgery to implant devices in the brain, an idea that simultaneously intrigues and discourages many potential consumers. Researchers have also used neural interfaces to restore the ability to speak and write in people that have suffered speech loss.

In the context of the metaverse, the gaming and tech company Valve last year announced an exploration of BCIs, together with OpenBCI, the developers of the non-invasive Galea headset. Applications will range from gaming to healthcare. After expanding their partnership to include MIT Media Lab and Tobii, OpenBCI recently raised funding to build an “operating system of the mind”. Success would represent a major step towards a vision that truly integrates tech into the human experience.

The perils of predicting tech developments

There are many different ways in which the metaverse could develop, all dependent on an ecosystem of research, innovation, investment, and policy. Any effort to predict winners is notoriously unreliable. If the metaverse materializes, it is likely to expand into experiences that we cannot predict, and anyone who claims with certainty that they know what will happen is probably lacking the flexibility of curious optimism.



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