What is metaverse? Will it affect the streaming world?

You’ve likely heard the term “metaverse” at some point if you use social media or browse through the Internet regularly. It is a term that has been associated with a new vision for the internet. This was further highlighted by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, announcing that Facebook will now be called Meta.

“Meta” is a Greek word that means “beyond.” Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse is an online virtual universe that can be accessed and experienced using virtual and/or augmented reality headsets.

The metaverse is not Facebook’s idea. It is not even new. Let’s begin our exploration of this concept by examining the roots of the word.

Metaverse: Its origin

Author Neal Stephenson first mentioned the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. The novel is set in a dystopian future in which people spend a lot of their time in the metaverse, a virtual world. The idea of the metaverse has since been included in many science fiction novels.

In fact, there are tech companies that have released products based on the idea of a metaverse. Companies like Roblox and Epic Games have gone so far as to host online concerts in the video game development field.

Also, there are metaverse-like video games out there like The Sims by Electronic Arts or Second Life by Linden Lab.

Although none of these examples is close to what the metaverse might actually look like, they do embody one of its core concepts: a shared virtual world that people can interact in. This environment allows them to interact with one another and can even participate together in events using their customized digital avatars. As virtual reality becomes more common, it’s likely that we will soon see games host concerts you can attend with VR headsets.

The idea of metaverse is also already a part of the corporate culture. Microsoft announced the integration of an online platform called Mesh into Microsoft Teams by 2022. It would create virtual spaces using mixed reality and holograms. It is an addition to Teams aimed at fostering a sense of community among members.

So, yes we have seen the idea of metaverse being implemented in many projects. But right now a true metaverse doesn’t exist. And whether we will see the metaverse in its ideal form in the future remains a matter of debate.

So, when can we expect a true metaverse to arrive?

Different schools of thought have different answers to this question. Zuckerberg presented his vision of the metaverse and gave a timeline of 5-10 years for the mainstreaming of the concept of metaverse.

Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist, proposes a longer time frame. He believes the internet in its current form is not designed to provide a metaverse experience. While many modern technologies have attributes that could be used in a metaverse environment, they cannot function at the same level as a metaverse. It will take many decades to create the metaverse, he believes.

However, it is likely that we will not see a seamless transition from the internet to the metaverse once it’s been created. The major players won’t be the only ones affected by this transition. Companies that are smaller and more focused on different aspects of the metaverse may play a role.

What will the metaverse look like?

It might be easier to understand the concept of metaverse if we first state what it isn’t. It’s not a product, it’s not a game and it’s not being made by one company. It’s more like a 3D web where information, businesses and communication tools can be interconnected. It’s like a digital replica of the physical world, and is incredibly immersive in nature. It’s easy to send a document in Microsoft Word to a colleague via Gmail. Items in the metaverse can also move through an ecosystem of various different products while retaining their value and function. 

What can you do in the metaverse?

You can play, work and do a lot more. Imagine you create a 3D avatar within Facebook or Microsoft Teams. You then use this avatar in virtual office meetings. After work, you buy tickets for yourself and your friends to a virtual concert. All of your avatars will be there among the hundreds of people in the audience. You check out the band’s T-shirts at a stall, just like you do on Amazon, or Flipkart and then pay for the one you choose with cryptocurrency. The next day, you wear this T-shirt to your virtual office. You lend the shirt to a colleague whose daughter in turn borrows it from her to play Roblox. This scenario is simple if you think, and involves live streaming, ecommerce, and corporate communication tools. However, it only works if every provider of such platforms and tools makes its system compatible with other providers and allows for transferability of assets like avatars and shirts.

What does this all mean for brands and people?

Its implications for people: 

Although the actual metaverse is still decades away, there will be an increase in AR and VR media formats in the future. And there surely will be more immersive technologies in place. This could directly result in an increase in the possibility of having a true metaverse in the near future.

Work from home experiences could get completely transformed, with people working from their own digital offices using their avatars.

Online shopping could have a new meaning. Today, fashion brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga have partnered with Fortnite to create clothing collections that can be worn by in-game avatars. So, in the future, new forms of fashion experiences could be possible.

These are just a few examples. However, most people view the metaverse as a digital universe where everything is possible. The ideal metaverse could include as many environments as users and producers would like to have.

 

Its implications for brands:

The metaverse will enable brands to tell their stories in ways not possible before. They will be able to communicate with their customers in new ways. It won’t be restricted by geography and won’t require expensive marketing campaigns or lengthy reports. It will all be about the brand story and the experiences consumers desire.

Social VR is a way for brands to prepare for the metaverse. Adapt to the changing environment, and you will be able to tap into metaverse’s potential fully. Since the dawn of forums and chat rooms, social interaction online has evolved a lot. Although the social media space is quite advanced even as of now, it continues to evolve. VR is the next evolution of social media networks, all set to open up new possibilities. VR allows anyone to be an influencer, and brands will have to adapt to remain relevant to such changes. It won’t probably matter much if your brand has a real celebrity endorsement; people will want your brand being used by their idol in the metaverse.

There are many possibilities for brands in the metaverse. But issues that plague the online world, such as privacy breaches, commercialization of online spaces, and centralization of technological powers first need to be addressed for advancements and innovations in this space to truly materialize.

What does Metaverse mean for the world of streaming?

For those who are not aware, streaming is the act of playing videos and other multimedia content on a computer, smartphone or other device by connecting it to the internet. This enables you to watch and listen to your favorite content without downloading it. The streaming market is huge, and will continue to grow with advancements in the area of Metaverse.

Since the pandemic, people are increasingly turning to e-solutions, such as online learning, training, and social events. Chatrooms and online gaming communities are becoming more popular than ever. These communities make use of live streaming to allow players or individuals to interact with one another or view their virtual assets. You can even stream live events or record them in 3D. This is also known as a volumetric video, and it allows viewers to see the physical space from every angle.

So, sure enough, the world is being transformed by generational trends.

The pandemic has caused an increase in video games usage. According to a report, 87% of Gen Z and 83% of Millennials play video games minimum once a week. More than half of the people surveyed said video games take away time from their other entertainment activities. Interestingly, Gen Z streams music when not playing video games. Also, according to another study, half of all young adults aged 18-29 stream music every day. 

From the discussion above, it’s clear that streaming is now an integral part of the virtual world. So, one thing is for sure, when we have the metaverse in its full blown form, streaming will be an integral part of that world. Streams of concerts, movies, music videos and audios will all be at the heart of virtual social meetups of avatars in the metaverse.

Bloomberg Intelligence predicts that by 2024, the market potential for the metaverse will reach $800 billion. So, media companies must be open to changes and adapt accordingly. They need to spend time and resources learning about Gen Z’s entertainment preferences and designing experiences to attract them.

Endnote

Now, you know that the metaverse is a virtual world that combines elements of digital technologies such as video-conferencing, games, cryptocurrencies, live-streaming, email, virtual reality and social media. While it is still unclear how all these elements will work together, some tech giants see it as the future for human interaction and communication. Metaverse is the “next frontier,” Mark Zuckerberg stated when he changed Facebook’s name to Meta Platforms Inc. 

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