Foundations of the metaverse: origins and perspectives

Born from the English contraction of “Meta” and “Universe”, the Metaverse is a concept that has been talked about a lot in recent months. If for the moment its applications are limited, the prospects for the future of the technology are real.

The Metaverse: a more or less recent notoriety

If the notoriety of the Metaverse is recent enough, the origin of the word does not go back to yesterday. The term was in fact coined by the American writer of science fiction and alternative history Neal Stephenson. The latter is the first to describe it in his novel: “The Virtual Samurai” released in 1992 (“Snow Crash” in its original version). Then it presents the Metaverse as a 3D virtual world where individuals, through avatars, interact with each other but also with characters generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The term Metaverse is now used more to describe a future version of the Internet where virtual spaces would be accessible via 3D interaction. Unlike a game, this new virtual world would constantly evolve, even when users logged off. In their absence, other people would continue to evolve there and the world would change day by day.

The fields of application of the Metaverse

Using augmented reality technology to superimpose the virtual world on real life, the Metaverse could be a game changer in many areas : creation of immersive 3D spaces, videoconferencing and innovative distance learning, new generation events, 3D commerce, avatarization… There could also be changes on the entertainment side. Virtual concerts would become the norm. The public then moved at will to get as close as possible to the artist. Along the same lines, tourist sites might deliver ultra-realistic virtual tours. Visitors could then move around an imaginary environment using glasses and joysticks.

Metaverse Perspectives: What’s next?

Are we currently close to a real Metaverse? That’s the question. As I write these lines, the obstacles to the advent of technology are still numerous. Among these are the hardware limitations of a persistent digital environment, the problem of energy consumption or even that of personal data. Other dangers are also reported, such as that technology can act as an “emotional refuge” and become addictive.

However, the development of the Metaverse can happen naturally. Indeed, in the future, Internet users are likely to spend even more time online and thus associate their identities more closely with their digital lives. In any case, the giants of Silicon Valley believe in its potential and are making colossal investments in this sector. The road is still long and probably full of pitfalls. However, the matter deserves to be followed closely.

(Photo credit: iStock)

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