You may have read or heard recently that the metaverse will bring in a brand new era of digital connectedness, VR experiences, and e-commerce. Many tech firms are placing large wagers on it. Microsoft’s enormous US$68.7 billion acquisition of game-producing behemoth Activision Blizzard showed the company’s intention to strengthen its position in the interactive entertainment market.
Before this, Facebook’s parent business changed its name to Meta, a central tenet of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious plans to redesign the social media platform as “a metaverse corporation, forging the future of social connection.”
Nike has recently filed new trademarks to sell virtual Air Jordans, while Walmart is getting ready to provide virtual products in online stores using its own cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, both of which are examples of non-tech companies eager to get in on the ground floor (NFTs).
I believe that the metaverse presents revolutionary possibilities; in my role as a journalism professor, I have been studying the development of immersive media. However, I also foresee certain difficulties on the route to widespread use. So what is this metaverse everyone keeps talking about, and why is it supposed to be so revolutionary?
Tuning Into the Metaverse
“an interconnected set of 3D virtual worlds” best describes the metaverse. Through the use of a VR headset, people can enter these alternate realities and explore them with their eyes, hands, or voices. The headset completely submerges the wearer, giving them the impression that they are physically present.
Popular MMVR games like Rec Room and Horizon Worlds are great examples of the metaverse in action since they allow players to interact with each other and their surroundings through the usage of avatars.
However, the implications for fields outside of gaming are mind-boggling.
The music industry and artists are experimenting with concerts in the metaverse. Top sports organizations are jumping on the bandwagon, with Manchester City and other clubs creating virtual stadiums where supporters can watch games and, presumably, buy virtual souvenirs.
Opportunities for the metaverse in online education and government services may have the greatest potential.
The metaverse, in the minds of many, is a virtual reality (VR) environment separate from our own, where users can interact and partake in an almost infinite number of VR-based activities, all of which are backed by their own digital economies.
Far Beyond the Realm of Vr
However, there are still obstacles to be overcome before the metaverse can gain universal acceptance. And the “virtual” component of this cosmos presents a significant obstacle.
In spite of the fact that virtual reality is widely regarded as a necessary ingredient for the metaverse, a VR headset is not (and should not be) a prerequisite for accessing the metaverse.
Metaverse experiences, like the online virtual world Second Life, are essentially available to everyone with a computer or smartphone. Since virtual reality (VR) is still struggling to gain traction with consumers, making the metaverse accessible to as many people as possible is essential to its success.
In a Relatively Short Time Frame
The virtual reality business has witnessed significant advancements. Only a few short years ago, anyone who wanted to experience virtual reality at home might select between pricey, connected computer systems or cheap, severely limited smartphone-based devices.
Recently, however, the market for consumer virtual reality (VR) headsets has exploded with the introduction of products like Meta’s Quest line of headsets, which combine excellent visuals with low prices and portability to revolutionize the VR industry at home.
The device’s price is lower than that of many video game consoles, the graphics are stunning, and there is a vast library of content at your disposal. This begs the question: why do so few individuals actually use virtual reality?
One positive trend is the increasing demand for virtual reality (VR) headsets around the world, with 2021 being the best year yet for headset manufacturers, who saw their highest sales since the 2016 surge in high-profile VR gadget launches. Even so, they only managed to sell about 11 million units globally.
Only about 28% of VR headset owners are thought to use their devices on a daily basis, so it may be difficult just to get others to try them out. Numerous critics in the tech industry have pointed out that the widespread revolution in virtual reality that was predicted years ago has mostly failed to materialize.
Physical Pain, Virtual Movement
Factors ranging from insufficient advertising to production issues explain why virtual reality hasn’t taken off more. However, it’s possible that many individuals find virtual reality (VR) boring and will avoid it, at least on a regular basis.
Despite significant improvements in screen technology, virtual reality (VR) makers are still working to alleviate “cyber sickness,” a nauseating sensation similar to motion sickness.
One study indicated that the weight of a virtual reality headset on the user’s head can cause strain on the neck, which could be a problem for as long as such huge headsets are necessary. As a result of the headgear being designed around a man’s head, studies show that women report significantly higher degrees of discomfort.
In addition to the discomfort of wearing a virtual reality headset, users can feel isolated from the real world. This is according to digital technology professor and researcher Ramona Pringle.
Certain individuals are drawn to VR for the purpose of enhanced escapism or for the purpose of virtual interaction with others. However, convincing people to wear a headset voluntarily for long periods of time may be difficult because of the disconnect from reality and the unsettling sense of isolation from other people.
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