As technology advances, the internet will become more immersive, and the way we are connected will impact how we communicate with each other. The hype of collectively stepping into a blockchain-powered virtual world has infiltrated the corridors of healthcare, education, gaming, retail, governments, telecom operators and other organizations that want to be at the forefront of this innovation.

This virtual reality (VR) space where users can interact with each other in a computer-generated environment is used for work, art or investments. In short, it is expansive. And it is just beginning. Indeed, the global metaverse market is expected to have a valuation of over US$650 billion by 2030.

More than half of the worldwide internet users join the metaverse for work possibilities, while over 40% participate in art and live entertainment, put their money into investments, or educate themselves here. Many are also playing games, generally socializing and even dating in this enthralling online vicinity.

The two things that make the metaverse push different (and arguably more comprehensive) from previous iterations of the concept are its expansion to include augmented reality and extended reality (AR and XR), along with more improved hardware and software offerings.

Virtual World May Not Be for Everyone

Yet, the success of the metaverse is seen as being impacted not only by the supply side but also by the demand side, wherein people should want their interactions to be more physically embodied. Otherwise, the technology’s popularity might die down, similar to how the once popular QWERTY phones are now rarely seen.

A Pew Research Center expert survey revealed that much more immersive virtual settings will not have a significantly broader influence on people’s daily lives by 2040. What would seem to be the current tech trend in headlines across the globe, the metaverse and its cluster of technologies, “is likely to make a few expected but fairly minor ripples in the stream of overall tech development.”

While quite a few fairly immersive AR/VR spaces already exist, particularly in Dubai, those spaces have not yet attracted a large percentage of the public’s time and attention. This shows that fuller immersion will remain uncommon and require a lot of time to actually happen.

Johnny Nhan, an associate dean at Texas Christian University, said that maybe 15 to 30 years from now, people’s attitudes will be more welcoming of the metaverse, exemplifying a case where the social is driving the technology and not vice versa.

Indeed, there has been a social backlash against information sharing, especially with intrusive immersive technologies, and this is a critical issue to address in the virtual world. Until we can get over the social acceptance factor, the metaverse will remain a recurring topic that keeps getting reintroduced as something new and exciting. Apart from such a barrier, the factors that will contribute to its long-term feasibility include privacy, safety, convenience and cost.

Bernie Hogan, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, commented that social life will be reconfigured as ML/AI-based predictive technologies will continue to shape experiences and constrain choices. “Is the metaverse a representation of space or a reconfiguration of sociality?” he pointedly questioned.

Virtual environments, like metaverse, will be more powerful as the need to better choose how we structure and encode life arises. AI chatbots will become smarter, and the metaspace will become more datafied rather than simulated.

Indeed, the broader public is the audience that is critical to the development of an actual metaverse, as it essentially concerns embedding oneself in a virtual space. If we come to think of it, the paradigm shift goes deeper than just adopting new computers and smartphones.

Even if millions of individuals choose to enjoy VR spaces for activities like day-to-day conversations, digital shopping and digital tourism, possible discomfort from headsets or motion sickness from a VR headset, goggles or gloves can be expected.

Taking these factors into account, the transition to the metaverse will be more of a sociological paradigm shift than merely a technological one. The metaverse will be shaped by the communication of emotions, enabled by VR/AR technologies and brain-computer interfaces. New hardware, platforms, disciplines and senses will come into play, redefining social contracts as they shift to the virtual world.

Technologies Within the Metaverse

The metaverse promises benefits that could impact economic innovation, social interaction, productivity enhancement, consumption and entertainment when executed right. Thus, enriching the development of both real and virtual societies requires the close integration of various technologies to provide technical support.

The participation of users in the metaverse cannot be achieved without communication technology (ICT), rendering technology, interaction technology and teamwork technology.

From an ICT perspective, the metaverse is the internet’s next evolutionary step, powered by connectivity, computing and AI at its core. And its digital infrastructure is backed by other technologies, including digital twins, 3D, IoT, human-machine interaction, digital currency and Web 3.0.

To achieve live, shared experiences, metaverse taps into the power of real-time rendering with the help of motion capture technology. By pairing these two technologies, it will be possible to bring real people’s movements and performances into 3D spaces. Real-time graphics technology has grown by leaps and bounds in gaming, films and concerts and will be maximized in the virtual landscape.

The metaverse supplies a way to encapsulate and track advances in communication and digital interaction. As time passes, human beings will be more engaged with the physical world and with one another through spatial, persistent and real-time interaction. It is a must to improve and advance how the metaverse will handle such digitally-mediated approaches.

Furthermore, the metaverse promises to bring new levels of social connection, mobility and collaboration to the world of virtual work, introducing elements of adventure, spontaneity and surprise. By creating a space for unstructured conversations and interconnected relationships, the metaverse goes beyond scheduled meetings; instead, through its avatars, a “water cooler effect” is achieved — in essence, a classic sense of kinship. Typically, avatars are tailored to reflect one’s personality and interests, encouraging more conversations and relations and thus a sense of familiar space.

In other words, the technological capabilities of the metaverse enhance the quality of interaction, facilitating communication and improving the overall virtual environment. Metaverse technologies must have the ability to foster communication, render interaction and provide teamwork tools that can influence presence and immersion in a positive and beneficial way.

The metaverse will be a new form of human communication, wherein whoever is immersed in the space will become not just the source of content, but the content themselves. Only time will tell how this gold mine of data will transform the world as we know it.

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