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What is the Metaverse? The future of the internet explained

If you’ve visited any news outlet, opened social media or even just spoken to another person in the past few years, you’ll no doubt have come across the term “Metaverse” by now. 

It seems every business is itching to establish itself as a frontrunner in the successor to the web as we know it. However, it isn’t always easy to pin down what exactly the Metaverse is or why we should care about tech’s most recent buzzword. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Metaverse, including what it is, who owns it and what it means for the future… 

What is the Metaverse? 

The term “Metaverse” is used to describe a hypothetical, three-dimensional virtual space in which we can all interact much like we can in the real world. This includes playing games, shopping, learning, spending time with friends and family and more – all virtually. 

The Metaverse is considered by many to be the next phase of progression for the internet and is expected to rely heavily on VR and AR headsets, though it could eventually become accessible from your phone or PC without requiring a bulky headset or creepy-looking pair of AR glasses. 

Who owns the Metaverse? 

Technically, no one does. 

It was first coined by American author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In the book, humans interact using avatars in a 3D virtual space, which describes pretty much the essence of what we expect from the Metaverse. 

Moving beyond its namesake, there are countless companies involved in developing the next phase of the internet as we speak. 

While Meta has received a large amount of publicity for its part in the Metaverse (partly due to the fact it renamed itself “Meta”), there are many companies working toward making the virtual world a reality. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Epic Games, Unity, Nvidia and Snap are just a few of the big names that have also been busy developing their own contributions.

Is the Metaverse the future? 

While the Metaverse is considered the future of the internet, we can’t dismiss the many crumbs of the Metaverse that already exist in 2022. 

VR and AR headsets are nothing new at this point, with brands like Meta, Sony and HTC all selling their own devices. The software and games available on them are the most obvious early examples of the Metaverse that we can see and buy right now. 

There have also been countless games released designed to facilitate real-world interactions in a virtual space, from World of Warcraft to Fortnite and Club Penguin, many of them spanning back decades. 

Though none of these titles hit the 3D aspect of the Metaverse, Fortnite and Roblox have held virtual concerts, with artists like Travis Scott, Lil Nas X and more performing on the platforms, demonstrating some of the potential.

Virtual experiences are expected to be pushed further in the coming years, though it isn’t clear exactly how long it’ll be before the Metaverse becomes our every day, as our vision of the technology is still quite abstract. Ultimately, it’ll be up to consumers to decide whether they want to head out to the shops to buy a loaf of bread or wander down the virtual aisles of Walmart.

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