If tech conferences were anything to go by and tech was a fashion statement, we would all be dancing around with metaverse avatars adorned with NFT collections and hoping that someone would notice how trendsetting we were.
For trendsetters in 2022, an NFT and a place in a metaverse is a “must-have”. So, not to be left behind, I joined the Journal of Metaverse editorial board, and I’ve been reading, interviewing, and going to tech conferences to try and make sense of this new trend.
Bloomberg speculates it may be an $800 billion market opportunity. Many people have been working on the metaverse, long before the shadow of Facebook, now Meta, loomed large in this new and rapidly-developing virtual universe.
Outlier Ventures suggest the defining characteristic of a true metaverse is that it has its own economy and currencies native to it, where value can be earned, spent, lent, borrowed, or invested interchangeably in both a physical or virtual sense, without the need for a government. The metaverse is a combination of DeFi, NFTs, decentralised governance, decentralised cloud services, and self sovereign identity and can enable the exchange of physical, economic, and content assets.
An open, decentralised metaverse is appealing to many. NFTs are providing the means for decentralised metaverse commerce. To developers, the metaverse offers the opportunity to create new projects and build communities in an open and decentralised way.
Firstly, how do we talk about it? It seems there will be multiple metaverses – so what’s the plural?
One metaverse, two metaverses and many meterversei? We need a mega plural term because we want it to be more plural with more diversity. The metaverse will be the amalgamation of hundreds, if not thousands, of user experiences through VR, AR, mobile, tablet or home computer.
So what are some of these developers building and why? Many are for metaverse commerce, like Boson Protocol which represents goods purchased in metaverse games as NFTs, which can be redeemed in the real world. Highstreet has products from brands like Hershey’s, L’Oréal, and Victoria’s Secret, which are tokenised and sold in the metaverse. SPACE enables users to easily design their own virtual spaces like shops, galleries and concert venues. Many people are snapping up virtual lands in Decentraland.
These are the obvious uses, but others are creating future metaverses with loads of creative ideas.
I shared a panel with Robert Gryn of MetaHero and tested their amazing 3D Everdome, where I became an avatar! MetaHero sees itself as the gateway to the Metaverse. Its goal is to bring in 10 million users into crypto through MetaHero, combining the gaming, social, art and their metascanning ecosystem to create the largest database of 3D scanned real-world objects and people.
Josh Posner ofStageverse described an ambition to deliver a premium user experience, with a focus is on enhancing identity, community, culture, and commerce through the magic of expressive 3D avatars and immersive 3D environments. He said: “We enable communities to engage more deeply with one another, individuals to express themselves more fully, artists to connect more creatively with their audience, and brands to connect more authentically with their customers, all through high-fidelity 3D experiences. Combining this social experience with the accessibility of our platform being delivered on mobile, VR and browser we believe we have a highly compelling metaverse experience that will truly unlock the potential for communities and creators alike.”
Stageverse has launched its public beta on mobile (iOS and Android) and Oculus Quest.
May Mahboob of Metabank’s motivation came from an interview with an 11-year-old in Bangladesh who was born and resides at a brothel whose dream was to have someone marry her and free her so she wouldn’t have to see so many men every day.
“It broke my heart. How can I help this child? That’s when I spoke with my cofounder who was already creating protocols for a decentralized financial solution. We not only want to free them but provide a way for them to be independent and earn a living for themselves, so they won’t have to go back to that.”
MetaBank Defi will be the world’s first decentralised 360-degree solution bank with the goal of bringing everyone into the digital age of banking in a truly decentralised way.
“Our vision is to build an entirely new cross-chain metaverse capability for the next level of communication, e-commerce, entertainment and a place to live. We are building the cross-chain VR protocol integration for people to build on in the Metaverses. We want to use our Mixed Reality platform to bring 1st world resources to developing countries via the technology”.
Su Le, Chief Digital & Strategy Officer, NEOM, said: “A mistake people often make is thinking that ‘the bigger the better’ counts in the metaverse. But scale is moot in the metaverse, what counts is the users’ experience.
“That’s why XVRS stands out, it puts human needs first. It’s the only iteration of the metaverse in development that will be a mixed-reality, 3D digital twin of a physical place. On top of that, it will deliver a gamified experience with distinctive exploration and entertainment features, an instant language translation tool, a social platform that fosters interaction, and a fully-fledged digital marketplace, which all adds up to a truly ground-breaking innovation.”
The city of Seoul, Korea, plans to create a metaverse for its municipal administration. Veyond Metaverse is creating the future Healthcare Metaverse ecosystem. It offers ways to improve education, training, and brings global healthcare professionals together for simultaneous education, training and collaborative medical procedures.
But despite its current hype, there is a way to go. Josh Posner ofStageverse outlined some of the barriers…
- “Few people truly understand and packaging up true utility and creating clear benefits for different use cases will be critical to draw mass audiences.
- Most metaverse platforms currently have different formats and standards for their in-world assets, which makes it challenging to carry assets from one platform to the next.
- Regulation could change the course of development and many platforms are voice chat based and fully immersive which can lead to moderation challenges when it comes to hate speech and harassment.
- The VR/AR UX hardware will need to dramatically improve for widespread adoption.
- As it currently stands, the UX/UI of interacting with blockchain and NFT-based platforms is still clunky, especially for new users. “
We have a long way to go, but it’s a busy space. Build your own future!
Meanwhile, FOMO is driving me and my avatar to don our digital fashion outfits adorned with NFTs and pretend we are “Oh so very Meta”!