Although it’s not the word of the year, 2022 was a paramount year for the metaverse. The word finally entered the public lexicon, and with it, everyone formed an opinion on the idea of living in a virtual world. There are believers in immersive reality and those who see no value in it. Not a lot of middle ground. As the title suggests, I’m a believer. As I should be, considering I wrote The Metaverse Handbook.
The metaverse is a highly debated topic, despite having no true consensus on its definition.
I define the metaverse as the Immersive Web or the Internet experienced through a 3D interface (AR/VR/XR). I believe the metaverse also represents the shift to web3 – incorporating blockchain technology to enable ownership of digital assets on the Internet – but not everyone agrees on that idea. At the minimum, the metaverse is the evolution of Internet interfaces.
For me, seeing the same companies that defined the digital life we know today invest heavily in the metaverse is what makes this moment so noteworthy. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Niantic, Sony, and Apple (secretly), to name a few, all have a metaverse strategy.
We have front-row seats to a battle for the next major era of the Internet. And almost all of the corporate heavyweights are here.
Granted, it can be hard to separate the real developments from the buzzword-packed press. Having done so much research when writing The Metaverse Handbook and reading updates daily, I have a solid filter on metaverse stuff. If you want to stay up to date on the things I find fascinating, you can find my notes on the metaverse below:
Otherwise, if you need more convincing, you’ll find my 7 reasons for being bullish on the metaverse below.
We Need The Next Interface
The smartphone brought us to amazing places. The influencer economy, the sharing economy, eCommerce (to an extent), and computational photography all owe themselves to the presence of the pocket computer that has dominated our lives over the last decade. But when was the last time that your phone did something you were awed by? When was the last time that your smartphone completely changed your life?
The smartphone is such a useful tool, but the interface is reaching its plateau. There’s nothing revolutionary left (besides a foldable screen, maybe) to innovate on this form factor.
Pokémon Go really showed us that people could be receptive to an augmented reality app. To see a cultural moment of that magnitude centered around AR proved a lot about the technology and the metaverse at large. And I believe that app was just a taste of what will come.
But in order to deploy AR (and VR) experiences at scale, we need new hardware. We need the next interface.
Meta is making headsets. So are Sony, Microsoft, and HTC. Upstarts are entering the space, like Nreal Air, which is actually my favorite metaverse device. Even Apple is designing a new metaverse operating system to be used on whatever XR device they’re secretly building.
Spatial Data is Fascinating
GPS has changed all of our lives many times over. Look at how much value Google Maps gives us through the use of spatial data. The ability to track our location brought us the impactful smartphone experiences of ordering an Uber, getting real-time directions, and being able to access a map anywhere.
All of the spatial data about restaurants, points of interest, traffic patterns, weather, information, reviews, etc., will find a new home in the metaverse thanks to VPS.
Visual Positioning System (VPS) was created by Niantic as a means for even more accurate location identification, using the phone’s camera to triangulate your location. The technology will allow us to place content in physical locations with millimeter-level accuracy and view it through mixed-reality interfaces (phones or lens frames).
VPS is like the last-mile delivery of GPS. Put another way, VPS is the last-inch localization of GPS. – Everydays 77
I think that Niantic’s VPS platform for developers, Lightship, is one of the metaverse dark horses because of how they’re enabling builders to make location-based metaverse experiences like Pokémon Go across the globe.
Special things will be done with spatial data. It’s one of the metaverse areas I’m most interested in, with concepts like Holoride – a metaverse for car passengers that uses motion data to alter the experience – also at the top of my list.
Years in the Making
As a techie, I’ve had a close eye on the XR space for the better part of a decade. I remember when Google Glass came out in 2013 (Here’s me rocking the prototype). The tech community thought that we were about to replace our smartphones with Augmented Reality glasses in droves. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Since then, we’ve had our hopes hyped and hampered time and again. But things feel different now.
When I started writing about the metaverse back in 2019, I was writing about outlier companies making fringe experiments.
When I was writing The Metaverse Handbook earlier this year, I was writing about the biggest tech companies around today.
Now, a significant portion of the tech sector seems to care about the metaverse, VR, AR, blockchain, or something to do with the metaverse. And that’s cool to see something finally get the same level of attention and excitement as you (and others) have had for a long time.
A Home for 3D Files
The fact that people are 3D printing houses straight off what they design on their computers is super futuristic. But that same file could be used to create an environment for thousands or millions to experience on Roblox, Horizons, or some other metaverse world.
Motion graphics and 3D design are the basis for metaverse building. These files are the lifeblood of what we experience. That’s why Epic Games’ RealityScan App, which can create a 3D file of any object with your iPhone camera, will be critical to populating the metaverse with objects.
NFT showed us that with the right social mechanisms, people will buy digital files and care about scarce digital ownership. The metaverse is where NFT ownership will truly be tested, as 3D files will be the basis for the metaverse economy.
Nike has invested heavily in the metaverse wearable market, seeing the opportunity to capitalize on the 3D file market. They purchased RTFKT, the most successful NFT wearable company, and are launching a NikeID for the metaverse where you’ll be able to design Nike-branded metaverse wearables.
What encourages and inspires me most about the metaverse is seeing the first entrepreneurs and businesses built in the metaverse. These are pioneers of the metaverse economy, and they’re all setting themselves up for great success in the future.
People like CK, who is creating nail art wearables, and my bet for the first person to open a metaverse nail salon. Dustbunny has been running a VR Dance Academy in VRChat for three years. Others are filming movies and commercials in the metaverse.
Adjacent to the metaverse market, it’s fascinating to see third-party players making prescription VR lenses and custom face pads, showing there are many ways to contribute and create value in the metaverse market.
It’ll be interesting to see who the first thousand metaverse millionaires are and how they will have made their money. I don’t think it will be long since The Metaverse Creator Economy is alive and running.
Bloomberg estimates the metaverse opportunity as an $800 billion market. Global Data puts the metaverse on a 40% compound annual growth rate, growing from $23 billion to $1.3 trillion over the next decade. So many figures have been thrown around.
I don’t necessarily like the idea of putting a market opportunity on the metaverse because I don’t see it as a separate entity from commerce, technology, and business as we know it today. It’s an evolution.
It would be equivalent to putting a market forecast valuation on social media in the early 2000s. Facebook hadn’t invented the News Feed yet and redefined social networks into ad networks. The idea of the Internet influencer hadn’t been birthed yet. The metaverse, like early social media, has so much room to grow beyond our wildest imaginations.
Putting a market forecast on the metaverse is futile, in my opinion, because this immersive world will impact every facet of personal and professional life.
There’s money in being ahead of an interface before standards have been set, development has been formalized, and ideas are replicable. And to me, that’s a good enough reason to care about the metaverse.
Just looking at the 30+ major retailers that have metaverse experiences shows that a lot are thinking about this and seeing the opportunity. You don’t want to be the nay-sayer for no good reason.
More To Do Than You Think
The most common misconception of the metaverse is that it’s all about gaming. Frankly, it’s not wrong to have this assumption. Meta has gone to lengths to brand the Quest Pro as a communication and productivity device, but marketing it as a gaming console is still the most effective strategy for them. Gaming is the number one use case, but it’s not the only use case.
The Metaverse nightclub scene is one of the more enduring experiences of the metaverse over the last few years. Athletes are finding ways to use the metaverse for sports training. Some of the most viral metaverse apps revolve around Hobbies and Interests in the Metaverse, such as space exploration and skateboarding. Here are 70 more ways to experience the Metaverse.
To not see the metaverse beyond a gaming destination is to ignore so much potential. I find something new and hidden about the metaverse daily. That’s why it finds its way into my Everydays journal so frequently: