It started with Pokemon Go, or did it?
The metaverse is a series of deeply immersive virtual worlds that you can enter into and experience as an avatar. Your experience may include social interactions, gaming, attending concerts or acquiring assets. Coined since 1992, today’s metaverse is driven by a noble mission of engagement, inclusivity and democratised prosperity.
The key premise of the metaverse is hyperconnectivity and interaction in increasingly imaginative ways. Its importance was reinforced during the height of pandemic era restrictions where in-person interactions were hindered and demand for digital social experiences reached an all-time high.
Since Mark Zuckerberg’s meta announcement last year, use of the word has skyrocketed, leaving a vast majority of people wondering how or when they can get hands on this seemingly nebulous piece of technology. Here, we explore four ways the metaverse has long existed and how you’ve possibly been there and done that.
AUGMENTED REALITY MOBILE APPS
AR operates by overlaying digital assets onto your physical world to enhance reality through a mobile phone or tablet. A prominent AR application is Snapchat, where besides donning a flower crown or sporting dog ears, you can try on and buy Nike apparel within the app. In retail, early adopters have leveraged this technology to enhance the customer experience; some shopping apps now allow you to point your phone camera at the appropriate space to see how a piece of furniture would fit in your room. AR also finds application in medicine, architecture, and education, and if anything, is in the same neighbourhood as the metaverse.
If you have used a VR headset, then you have gotten a feel of one of the most significant gateways to the metaverse. A close cousin to augmented reality, VR Immerses you in a completely computer-generated environment where you can interact with virtual objects or avatars of other participants. This technology is widely used in education, medicine, tourism and journalism. In marketing, virtual showrooms like the Pufferfish virtual showroom are widely used to showcase products in hyper-realistic 3D environments.
Circling back to Pokemon Go - the one-time pop culture sensation was one of the earliest mass adoptions of AR technology. The game challenges you to explore your city in search of special AR pets which you could locate and identify with your mobile phone. Today, video games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Destiny let you build empires, form teams with players across the globe, battle for territory, and dip in and out of immersive virtual events as often as you please. Fortnite also hosts increasingly ambitious virtual concerts for its over 350 million users to enjoy live performances by the likes of Marshmello or Ariana Grande.
A LOOK AHEAD: DIGITAL GOODS
Digital consumer goods are a developing aspect of the metaverse, and big brands are looking into them as the next logical step in e-commerce and brand building. From Nike’s metaverse sneakers to Ralph Lauren’s digital fashion line, you can expect to see your favourite brands venture into NFT consumer goods soon.
HAPTIC FEEDBACK FROM METAVERSE INTERACTIONS
Now, this is an aspect of the metaverse that makes one squeal. Imagine that when you touched an object or person in the virtual world, you could physically feel it. This takes the immersion to greater heights and is now within our realm of possibility as Meta announced work in progress on metaverse haptic gloves.
A question of growing importance is that of interoperability within the metaverse. As the metaverse thrives on inclusivity and social interactions, it is crucial for it to be open and seamless. With Massive brands like Meta racing to create virtual worlds, it becomes ever more important to understand how these worlds would interact. Also important is how users would be allowed to seamlessly leap between worlds while maintaining their virtual identities and acquisitions.
As creators of immersive experiences, it is only expected that we have our own Pufferfish virtual space. In our virtual showroom, you can visit with your desktop, mobile device or VR headset to learn about our products like the Puffersphere®, PufferTouch® and Wake. This is especially handy when travel restrictions keep us from showing off our products in person.