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What is the Metaverse?

What is the metaverse?

According to the Oxford dictionary, the metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. The term was coined by Neil Stevenson in his 1982 novel, Snow Crash. Stevenson's Metaverse was a virtual place where characters could go to escape reality. The metaverse is a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality, it will be intertwined with the physical world and alter how we communicate with one another.

The meaning of Metaverse is so broad that there is controversy as to whether or not it currently exists. Some people believe it already exists in the form of immersive social networks and games including apps such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Sandbox. The bigger concept is that all the different apps and platforms will be able to communicate and collaborate in one space, the Metaverse.

How does the Metaverse work?

You can access the Metaverse via VR headsets, games consoles, or even on your smartphone. A smartphone will only give you a glimmer of what the Metaverse has to offer. The advantage of using a VR headset over other devices is that you can fully immerse yourself in the metaverse and get a genuine sense of presence. You will be able to converse with people through your selected avatar and engage all of your senses, depending on the headset you have.

Within the Metaverse, you create an avatar to interact with other people. Within Facebook’s Metaverse, their hyper-realistic 3D avatars combine artificial intelligence, advanced modelling techniques, and electromyography to accurately portray human characteristics and motions.

Features of the Metaverse:

  • The Metaverse shows no boundaries between the real and digital world
  • It is not owned by a singular entity; everyone has access to it
  • It has its own economic system, using digital currency such as NFTS and cryptocurrency
  • The Metaverse is always online and cannot be reset or turned off
  • The Metaverse offers a realistic immersive experience with the help of extended reality tools
  • Allows people to connect socially from all over the world

How are businesses using the Metaverse?

In 2021 Facebook changed its name to Meta. Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company’s new branding was in line with wanting to shift the social platform to the Metaverse. In Zuckerberg’s founder’s letter, he stated that ‘you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine — get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create — as well as completely new experiences that don’t fit how we think about computers or phones today.’ Facebook is hoping to revolutionise the way we go about our daily lives.

Another company taking on the Metaverse is Microsoft. After COVID-19 many companies saw a rise in hybrid working, and whilst many people preferred this setup, a lot of people also missed the interaction with colleagues, even video meetings feel impersonal as some people do not turn on their cameras. Microsoft has announced their solution to hybrid working, ‘Mesh for Microsoft Teams’. The platform’s mixed-reality capabilities will allow people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences. It is combined with Microsoft Teams' productivity tools, which allows people to join virtual meetings, send chats, work collaboratively on shared documents, and more.

What jobs will be needed in the Metaverse?

AR/VR Software Engineers

As companies take on the metaverse, they will need Software Engineers who are highly skilled in augmented and virtual reality. Software Engineers will need to have experience with user interface design, developing scalable, high-performance code, architecture, secure coding practices, and more. Beginning a career within the gaming industry would help a Software Engineer develop the skills needed to build Metaverse.

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Hardware Engineer

It is not just coding that makes up the Metaverse. From the initial user interface (VR headsets, sensors, etc.) to the massive amount of server and data storage space necessary to completely materialise a digital world, a lot of technology will be required to make it function.

Physical architecture is as comprehensive as digital architecture. Consider the size of the computer servers and the number of VR headsets needed to get a project off the ground.

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Metaverse Cyber Security

Because of its architecture, the Metaverse is expected to bring about whole new cyberattacks, in addition to the traditional phishing, malware, and hacking, as technology advances and expands. In the Metaverse, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTS) are widely used, and hackers may discover a way to target them.

There will also be a rise in the quantity of data produced, making data security more vital. The primary objective is to find a way to protect our online identity and commercial activity. People who have experience in cyber security would be best suitable for this role.

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According to Statista, it is predicted that in 2022, the global Metaverse market size will reach £38 billion, before rising to a staggering GBP 540 billion by 2030. Therefore, now is a good time for IT and Tech professionals to consider their skill set and the job roles that could open them up to future opportunities in the world of the Metaverse.