Software and Services

The next steps for the metaverse

11 March 2022
Upcoming features in the metaverse will include the integration of NFTs, virtual real estate and e-commerce as well as healthcare, virtual teaching and virtual show attendance. Source: Pixabay

The metaverse is already being used in video games, sports and fashion but get ready for the next phase which will see augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and extended reality come to more industries such as real estate, e-commerce and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The term metaverse is still considered in its nascent stages and so far, it remains rather ambiguous with only certain pieces that have only now started to become real in the electronics market.

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is thought of as any 3D and multisensory content that is on the internet.

According to University of Pennsylvania, the metaverse is a virtual space where users interact with each other and other 3D digital environments through technology. It is an extension of VR and AR into a merger of the two called extended reality (XR).

While the metaverse and blockchain are not the same technology and the metaverse does not have to be built on blockchain tech, the functions and transactions conducted in the metaverse require a high level of security and speed, which could probably best be served by blockchain.

Currently, the metaverse in gaming is used in AR and VR games and content. In sports, metaverse is being used to offer a new way of watching matches or events, giving users a sense of being on the field or very close to the action that witnessing in person or on a television doesn’t offer. In fashion, AR and VR is being used to show how an outfit or accessory could look on a person without physically touching the item. Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Fendi have all launched initiatives in the metaverse

[Discover more about VR software on GlobalSpec]

NFTs in the metaverse

University of Pennsylvania researchers maintain that the next great technology to be integrated into the metaverse is NFTs.

Due to the natural integration of blockchain technology into the metaverse for security, NFTs will also be a natural inclusion into the multiverse. Already NFTs are being used in video games to port digital assets between games.

NFTs could potentially in the future be used to authenticate participation in virtual teams or leagues. It could also allow clothing collections to be shown in the metaverse to protect against theft. Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda show recently featured this technology, said University of Pennsylvania researchers.

Real estate and e-commerce

Virtual real estate sales are surging. In November of 2021, sales dominated by Sandbox, Decentraland, Cyrptovoxels and Somnium had sales of $133 million. The total sales in 2021 in the metaverse topped $500 million.

The rush to buy real estate in a virtual world was sparked by Facebook’s announcement that it would be rebranded to Meta to focus on the metaverse.

Because of this and other metaverse property coming online, the metaverse real estate market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% through 2028.

The viability, value, sustainability and long-term prospects of this real estate remains unknown, according to University of Pennsylvania scientists.

Meanwhile, the metaverse will have a significant impact on e-commerce with the options to give consumers more personalized shopping experiences such as being able to interact with products using their avatars, interact with others or personalize products in digital stores.

Broader impact

The COVID-19 pandemic saw schools go to virtual classrooms. The metaverse using XR technology could easily expand this development in bringing instructors around the world to classrooms for those students studying aboard or teach instructions to companies in far off locations.

Another opportunity could allow users to attend conferences virtually either due to financial means or other reasons that physical travel can’t happen. This would help in reducing the climate footprint due to less business travelers on planes and automobiles.

Finally, healthcare options could be expanded with the metaverse with physical therapy, mental therapy and rehabilitation taking place in the metaverse. Additionally, healthcare education can be expanded to offer digital medical libraries, robot-assisted medical procedures, computer-generated labs and virtual surgical training platforms in the metaverse.

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