The idea of a “metaverse” reached critical mass last fall, when Facebook announced its new company name, Meta, and its intention to build “a 3D place where people can work, play, and connect with others in immersive, online experiences.”
While Facebook’s name change has made it the public face of the future of the metaverse, other tech companies are also developing virtual and augmented reality technologies to make their own metaverse plays.
And companies of all kinds are looking at what a robust metaverse means for them and their industry. Some companies, like Gucci and Ferrari, have already established a presence on immersive platforms Roblox and Fortnite, while companies like Disney are looking at creating their own metaverse experience. Bill Gates recently predicted that in the next few years, most remote meetings will move to a metaverse-type platform.
But the future is unclear because the metaverse is still just a concept, according to futurist Amy Webb, the chief executive officer of the Future Today Institute, who moderated a discussion about the metaverse at the recent Future Compute conference hosted by MIT Technology Review. “It’s not a technology, it’s not even an umbrella of technologies. It’s not a singular place, it’s not a singular protocol,” she said.
Overall, “the metaverse is almost entirely hype and baloney right now,” said Philip Rosedale, whose company Linden Lab created the pioneering virtual civilization Second Life. “If you’re worried about your company needing to jump in right this very minute to make your metaverse play, you can stop worrying.”
But that doesn’t mean it can be pushed aside. The metaverse “is something we all have to be thinking about, especially when it comes to the enterprise, because it does influence things that come next,” Webb said.