The concept of the metaverse has accelerated massively since Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, encompassing all its affiliated companies. This allowed many to view the digital reality as something more outside of its gaming context. But what does this really mean and how will companies respond?
In a career spanning decades, Jawad Ashraf has been at the forefront of innovation in emerging technology. Having pioneered software development in industry and enterprise, he’s been a driving force in the early adoption of progressive technology. As CEO and co-founder of Terra Virtua, he’s an industry leader in NFTs, blockchain and the metaverse.
Speaking to The Fintech Times, Ashraf analyses what the metaverse is at its core and how it will develop:
The metaverse dominates news headlines and conversations, and in recent times interest has skyrocketed. Companies such as Meta (previously Facebook) and Microsoft, alongside brands like Disney and Manchester City Football Club are jumping on this latest tech trend, that allows users to play, work and socialise in virtual environments. But many questions still surround this emerging industry and technology.
What is the metaverse?
When thinking about the metaverse, it’s important not to think about it as a singular entity, but a series of virtual spaces that will overlap each other. An interconnected network of metaverses, which will enable new experiences, communities, opportunities to learn, places to game and much more. Virtual spaces which will grant the ability to experience more than we can in the real world, enhanced and unrestricted by physical limitations.
In many ways, the metaverse is an evolution of connected networks like the internet. However, it is important to remember that many metaverse projects are still in the trial-and-error phase. What we will see is successful projects and failures, as the metaverse’s true purpose is defined. We’re at a point where projects are blazing a trail into the metaverse, and hopefully we’ll soon be able to fully experience what it has to offer.
How does the metaverse work?
Despite a growing understanding of what the metaverse is, and more brands and individuals working out how they can get involved – we aren’t quite there yet. Currently, there are some isolated examples of companies building the infrastructure that could become metaverses. Think Meta, its rebrand from Facebook and Virtual Reality (VR) programme; and games like Fortnite and Roblox, with avatars (virtual characters that represent users), their own economies and live events that allow users to go beyond gaming.
The great thing about the metaverse is that there will be no set boundaries for what each virtual world might look like and how to access them. For now, users access the metaverse through their avatars. However, you can’t take your avatars and digital assets with you wherever you go, to use in another world or metaverse, and you can’t freely move between virtual places.
Once fully formed, the metaverse will be more like a network of virtual worlds. You’ll be able to move through connected virtual environments seamlessly, using fully immersive VR that overcomes the barriers of glass screens and heavy headsets. What’s more, in the future, we’re expecting it to be a far more immersive experience, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual world.
What can you do in the metaverse?
One day, you’ll be able to do almost everything you can do in the real world in the metaverse. Only you’ll have all the benefits of the virtual world – convenience, enhancement, everything at your fingertips, without physical barriers such as geography – with the capability to interact with others and the environment as deeply as you can in the real world.
In the meantime, there are a number of experiences already available to us in the metaverse. These include:
- Entertainment: From socialising with your friends, to attending virtual concerts and weddings.
- Virtual Property: People are increasingly interested in climbing the virtual property ladder through NFTs and purchasing homes, land, events, space and even yachts.
- Gaming: Some users are gaming not only to make friends, but to make money via play-to-earn games such as Nitro League and Axie Infinity.
- Working: Increasingly, workplaces are investing in VR headsets, allowing employees to get together in virtual workspaces and new starters to be on-boarded.
- Learning: Platforms are reinventing virtual education, offering interactive and immersive educational experiences through VR and AR.
Are you ready player one?
We’re at the start of something big and we’ve still got a way to go until we truly see what the metaverse can offer. There is still much to be built, and many key decisions to be made – including how it will be regulated; how it will affect and be affected by real world events and restrictions; and what exactly it will offer us.
The movie Ready Player One is the perfect example of what we want to achieve in the metaverse, but we need to avoid potential pitfalls – we need to make sure there is a layer of regulation and protection especially when it comes to identify, anonymity and data retention.
The metaverse will create a big societal shift, we are truly stepping into a space that has never been explored before, there will need to be rules to ensure everyone is made to feel welcome and can enjoy everything the metaverse has to offer.
About Terra Virtua:
Launched in 2017, Terra Virtua is a digital collectibles platform built on sustainable blockchain technology. Which offers immersive collectible, gaming and social experiences, through NFTs, and provides a gateway to the metaverse.
Jawad Ashraf, CEO and CO-Founder of Terra Virtua: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jawadashrafuae