What is the metaverse: opportunities and critical issues
Try to think about your daily routine: work, meetings, lunches, sports, movies, shopping, meetings, etc.
Now imagine it in digital form.
The idea behind the metaverse is this: you wear a pair of glasses or a viewer and you find yourself immersed in a huge 3D environment where you decide what to do, who to meet, what to buy (via Blockchain technology) and much more.
The change of name of facebook to Meta has catalyzed the interest of the general public in the web 3.0. In addition to Facebook and Microsoft, the video game and cryptocurrency sectors are also investing in the metaverse.
Seen by some as the next version of the Internet and, by the most critics, as a simple case of rebranding the technology of a virtual reality that has never fully convinced, the metaverse is accompanied by smoky and conflicting rumors.
What is the metaverse
The metaverse is a virtual reality space shared via the internet where each user equipped with an AR viewer can move in the form of a three-dimensional avatar. The metaverse would therefore be a virtual world that can be explored by interacting with real elements, or a new way to live real experiences with the support of technology. For example, if you are using a virtual reality application, you can both interact with the things around us and add three-dimensional objects to enrich the interaction. Virtual and augmented reality are therefore part of the metaverse.
A concrete example of the metaverse
A possible scenario is that of a player who accesses the virtual store of an existing brand during a video game, tries on an item of clothing with his avatar and buys it online, having it delivered to his address. All this without having set foot outside.
How to access the metaverse
To access the metaverse, you need to register on any site that is part of it and have a viewer, not strictly necessary, but useful for a truly immersive experience.
Characteristics and criticality of the metaverse
As far as we can understand at this stage, the metaverse will need:
1. Global and decentralized nature
The metaverse would imply the creation of a new world without geographical barriers that will require a rethinking of areas of law linked to local, national or international dimensions, but not yet global.
2. Synchronic interaction between users, physical and virtual reality
The metaverse experience thus conceived makes it possible to collect an enormous amount of personal data. An example: information relating to behaviors, physical movements, psychological reactions and biometric data of users, through kits and body systems necessary for the new virtual experience. A first problem could therefore concern the protection of user privacy and consent collection procedures.
3. Continuous connection
In the context of liquid interoperability of the metaverse, constant attention will be required, from a regulatory and application point of view, to data breach risks and cybersecurity measures.
Far be it for us to scaremonger, it is legitimate to ask further questions that shed light on as many critical aspects, for example:
Who will be responsible for the metaverse’s management?
Will there be only one metaverse or many?
Will a technological hegemony be created?
How can inappropriate behavior towards users be controlled?
These are questions to which, for now, we have found no clear answers.
Several companies (including multinationals) are showing interest in the metaverse as a new frontier of interaction and online marketing (see the immersive multimedia experience of the Gucci Garden on Roblox, even if we cannot yet speak of a real metaverse.
In any case, it seems that the technology is under development and that there is still a lot of work to be done. The challenge is open; we just have to keep an eye on Facebook (Meta), Microsoft and Nvidia pending any developments.