Approach to the metaverse: present and future of a value proposition
At this point, we could say that everyone has heard of the metaverse: mass media, blogs, social networks and the entire information conglomerate that have been involved in the incipient potential of what is presented to us as a parallel reality, which we almost already know, but have not discovered yet.
Although more and more people know about it, it is still unknown how it works or the added value that the virtual world can have, both at a personal and business level. We are in the digital era, but it still sounds like science fiction.
Is it already a reality or should we wait a few years for it to become part of our everyday life? We don’t know for sure, but we should be prepared.
What is the metaverse?
Moving away from the technical definitions, the metaverse is a virtual world created to interact through various sensory levels. Using virtual reality goggles or a virtual reality helmet, we can explore spaces, socialize with other people and emulate real-world activities.
In the past there were already some attempts, such as the popular Second Life, launched in 2003, or Haboo Hotel, which was born even earlier, in 2000. The basis of these virtual universes was the videogame format, in which the added value was to be able to socialize through the Internet, and it is still preserved in the new metaverse proposals, but with much more potential due to the new advances and resources of the present.
“It, it is still unknown how it works or the added value that the virtual world can have, both at a personal and business level. We are in the digital era, but it still sounds like science fiction.”
There is no single answer. The reason why it has become so popular is due to several independent facts. For example, Facebook’s commitment to developing technology in this direction. Mark Zuckerberg’s company has even changed its name to ‘Meta’, which is a clear statement of intent.
The rise of cryptocurrencies, NFTs or even remote work have been key in driving investment in this area.
As with any value proposition, we do not know the scope or limits of its development and integration into society. However, it has established itself as an exciting and controversial precedent at the same time.
What their detractors say
The metaverse is a very controversial topic. Why? Mainly because of all what remains to be defined:
- Limits: technologies, so far, are ‘underdeveloped’. The video game world has made a great impact, but for more general uses, it is not accepted yet.
- Limitations: the fact that any company or entity can create its own metaverse implies a risk in terms of establishing restrictions, even legal ones. Will a police force or courts be necessary? What can be a crime in a virtual environment? What can be the punishment for non-compliance with a law? These are questions that are complex to answer and can be perceived as a barrier to the implementation of these parallel realities.
- Relationships: if this debate already started with the popularization of social networks, because of their level of absorption and obsession, the metaverse has become the focus of the controversy. A bad approach can lead to the loss of interactions with reality, with all that this implies for our personal evolution and as a society.
Inclusion as a pending task
We are facing a new world and it is time to address issues that are still pending in our physical reality. Inclusion, a work in progress for many areas, also affects the metaverse.
Making the use of this technology accessible and inclusive will allow us to integrate a very high percentage of society in this type of advances that, if they become established, will mean the future of many areas. Shopping, meetings, work or even cultural events and parties will find their place in the metaverse and if we are not able to include as many people as possible in it, we will have failed as professionals and society.
Creating these new worlds through accessible designs will break down barriers from the start, avoiding future efforts and broadening the spectrum of audiences and possibilities for proper development and evolution.
However, we must also bear in mind that there are physical and hardware limitations. The current means of accessing the metaverse are very limiting, either because of their characteristics or their cost, which is currently the main barrier to progress towards full inclusion.
User experience in the metaverse
It is not new to say that the user experience must pivot in any product design, whether digital or not, and the metaverse was not going to be less. We are going to have a gigantic, if not infinite, field of possibilities: everything we could already do in the real world, we will be able to replicate it in the virtual one, adding new features that are physically impossible in our reality.
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