Why is everyone talking about the metaverse?

BY Bernard Marr

28th Oct 2022 Technology

Why is everyone talking about the metaverse?
The metaverse will revolutionise our lives online and offline, says futurist Bernard Marr. Here he answers the question "What is the metaverse?" in simple terms
With big tech companies and the media all buzzing with talk of the “metaverse”, you might be asking what the fuss is all about.

What is the metaverse, why is it important, and will we see it in our lifetimes?

In the metaverse, your avatar will move through a virtual world where you can shop, work and meet up with friends
The metaverse—a far more immersive internet where we’ll experience our world in more realistic, more engaging ways—will revolutionise our online and offline lives.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defines the metaverse as an “internet that you’re inside of, rather than just looking at” and I would take that definition one step further.
Imagine a shared virtual world where you can take on any personality you want (or just be yourself) and be able to work, play, and socialise with people all over the world in ways that are far more realistic than social media conversations or Zoom calls.
"Whether you’re playing an online game or connecting with colleagues for a work project, all the virtual worlds will be interconnected"
Whether you’re playing an online game or connecting with colleagues for a work project, all the virtual worlds will be interconnected, and you’ll be able to move seamlessly from place to place.
Additionally, we’ll be able to augment and enhance our physical world, which is like bringing virtual elements out into the real world.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how the metaverse might work in the future, and how this merging of “real life” with digital activities could impact you.

What will the metaverse look like?

There’s no denying that the metaverse will revolutionise your experience online. But what exactly does that mean? Here are a few quick examples of what life might look like when we can move about within an immersive, shared, persistent environment:
  • You’ll join virtual 3D team meetings at work, where your colleagues will gather in a 3D, collaborative working space.
  • After work, you’ll join a friend for a virtual reality pickleball lesson. Your friend will be in one country, and your instructor will be in another, but you’ll be able to meet together on the virtual court.
  • You’ll take a walk through your town and spot a leather jacket in a shop window that you love. Your augmented reality sunglasses can tell you the jacket’s brand, product name, and price—and you can even hop into a virtual dressing room to “try on” the jacket to see how it would look on you in real life.
  • When you come home, you’ll shop for new furniture by using an augmented reality app that lets you “see” the furniture in your living room and decide if you like the color and size of a new potential couch choice.
  • Then you’ll catch up with some friends who live across the world by meeting on a virtual platform and watching your favourite band play an immersive concert that makes you feel like you’re right there in the stadium.
  • In the meantime, your child will be visiting the British Museum and learning about other cultures—right from their classroom, using a virtual reality headset!

What’s all the buzz about the metaverse?

You might already know someone who uses the metaverse for an immersive fitness experience
If you’re curious about the metaverse, or the technology behind it like virtual reality and augmented reality, it’s most likely because you’re hearing about more immersive, accessible experiences in pop culture or in the media.
For example, perhaps you’ve seen artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott hosting concerts in Fortnite, an online gaming platform owned by Epic Games.
Or perhaps you remember the Pokémon Go phenomenon where you could “see” Pokémon characters superimposed on the world around you, and earn points by collecting them all.
"Perhaps you remember the Pokémon Go phenomenon where you could 'see' Pokémon characters superimposed on the world"
Or maybe you even know someone who has a virtual reality headset and uses it for 3D immersive fitness or gaming.
With Facebook recently changing its name to Meta, and Apple announcing that they are working on their own virtual reality headset, it seems like a lot of big tech companies are already positioning themselves as metaverse players and developing immersive platforms and experiences for their audiences.
These companies will need to work together to create the seamless, interconnected metaverse of the future where we’ll be able to work and play together online.

Get ready for the metaverse

Businesses who bet early on the metaverse could benefit the same way those who invested in social media did
Do you remember back in the early 2000s, when even some big brands said they didn’t need a social media presence? Now every business—no matter the size—participates on social media.
The same phenomenon will happen with the metaverse, so businesses that want to stay competitive need to start making plans now so they’re not caught on the back foot.
"It will change how we move through our lives because we’ll be able to bring digital experiences into the real world"
Bringing all these strands together into one immersive, interconnected metaverse isn’t going to happen overnight—but it will happen. Right now we’re just at the start of what we’ll be able to see and do with cutting-edge immersive technology, but things are emerging rapidly.
The metaverse will not only change how we experience the internet, but it will also change how we move through our lives because we’ll be able to bring digital experiences into the real world.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the metaverse is the next big iteration of the internet—and that’s something for everyone to get excited about.
Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, award-winning author, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology. His new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World (Wiley, £18.99) is out now
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter