2021 was a tough year as the world bore the brunt of a raging virus, collapsing economies, job losses, political uncertainties and mental health. Everyone billed 2021 to be the year of resurgence after an unexpectedly devastating 2020, but in an anti-climax, this year left humanity reeling as new covid variants took us further away from life as we knew it.
Yet, the resilience of the human spirit stands tall, and if history is something to go by, it is tough times like these that forefront innovation and usher in new ideas. Our lives over the last two years have been reshaped with technology to adapt to the new normal, replacing almost every aspect of our real life experiences — whether it’s education, offices, or social interactions. We are seeing newer ideas emerge everyday that help people communicate, collaborate and earn without needing to leave their physical space.
As the importance of “where” fades in our lives and livelihood, humanity is having its first brush with globalisation in the true sense. Digital technology allows us to be present in shared virtual spaces, sharing the same experience as someone across the globe from us, and being counted for who we are, rather than where. You didn’t know it, but you are already experiencing life in the Metaverse.
WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?
The metaverse is the next iteration of the internet where users will be able to build virtual lives, cohabitate, share spaces, transact and collaborate in new ways. The term “Metaverse” was coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson for his science fiction novel, Snow Crash. He used the combination of Meta and Universe to talk about life-like avatars meeting in virtual reality. Today, that vision comes to life as users can enter the metaverse to share an immersive experience, facilitated by augmented and virtual reality.
The Metaverse has not sprung upon us in a day. It is a natural evolution of our digital and social media interactions. People today spend hours curating a picture for their profile picture, let their food go cold for the perfect Instagram story, and strive to create a happy, successful social media image irrespective of how their day went. The importance given to our digital lives has grown rapidly over the past decade, and now we move from 2D apps to 3D environments to build on our virtual personas.
Imagine a day in life of a 20-something today. They start their morning by grabbing their phone, scrolling through social media, texting friends, getting ready for their office zoom calls, ordering lunch from an app, working out to a Youtube video, and streaming Netflix at night. There is an app on their phone for everything — from banking to grocery shopping, and even one for reminding them to drink water.
The Metaverse strives to improve this experience — The same person can wake up to attend a Yoga class with his friends who gather in the virtual gardens. He can attend a virtual office with higher employee interaction. He can order his meal from his favorite restaurant in the foodverse, and enjoy it with a friend. He can head to the virtual theatre and watch a movie with his girlfriend. It’s the same activities that form his daily routine today, but enhanced by the power of the third dimension.