In simple terms, the metaverse is a virtual world that exists parallel to our physical world where people can socialize and engage in various activities. It can be accessed by using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses or smartphones apps.
In the future, it’s expected to expand beyond gaming and virtual workspaces and into shopping, travel, education and even real estate. Some experts believe that the metaverse could eventually become the dominant online experience.
Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft are already making major investments in this new space. Some, like BlackRock’s recently established exchange-traded fund, invest in companies building the underlying technologies that will enable the metaverse. The investment firm’s Metaverse ETF includes a wide range of companies, from chip makers like Qualcomm and Nvidia to 3D simulation software maker Dassault Systemes and games makers such as Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft.
The current state of the metaverse is a bit of a wild west. Despite the hype and predictions of hyper-realistic virtual environments, it’s still far from becoming mainstream. The hardware needed to access it is cumbersome and expensive, and the necessary software development has been slow. Some technology experts argue that the metaverse won’t take off until there is a single gateway that will allow users to sign in and easily move between different experiences and services.
As the metaverse is built out, some experts expect a shift from 2D web spaces to immersive, interactive 3D experiences. Moreover, it’s expected to become more decentralised and democratised through blockchain technology and other features that will give users more control over their data, identity and assets.
A major goal of the metaverse is to bring down the walled gardens of big tech, where companies like Google and Facebook control users’ personal information. It’s a movement that has been given impetus by the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Many businesses see the potential of the metaverse as a way to communicate with customers in more meaningful ways. It’s a way to build brand awareness and loyalty, as well as provide an immersive environment for training and education.
While the metaverse is still a relatively new space, it’s also an area where businesses can get ahead of their competitors by offering branded experiences that can be enjoyed by their customers in a safe and secure virtual environment. Creating an exclusive and unique space for your business in the metaverse will increase visibility, attract attention and lead to more customer interaction. In addition, businesses can leverage the Metaverse for marketing and advertising, including 3D product showrooms that can help users visualize and understand how a product or service will work in their home or workplace. This can be particularly useful for customers who might otherwise not have been able to visit a physical store or showroom. Similarly, webinars and conferences can be presented via the Metaverse in a way that’s more engaging than standard Zoom or Google Meet sessions.