Was ist ein Metaversum?

What is the metaverse? Definition

A clear definition of the metaverse does not currently exist. Rather, there are discussions about what the Metaverse could be, what it isn't, what it should be, and what it should be. must be and what belongs to it. If you ask Matthew Ball, his Essays on the Metaverse Making waves in 2020, the Metaverse is an "expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that offer continuity of identities, objects, historicity, currency, and permissions, and are synchronously shared by unlimited users in custom ways." experience." (Source: www.matthewball.vc/all/forwardtothemetaverseprimer)

Although big tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Jen-Hsun Huang (Nvidia) are investing billions in it, the Metaverse is currently just a thought construct. Nevertheless, properties can be defined that exist from the Internet and technologies such as Augmented Reality, Extended Reality and virtual reality. Matthew Ball emphasizes that it is not just an evolution of the Internet, but a whole new form of computing. In the Metaverse, digital spaces do not exist parallel to “reality”, but as a fusion of cyberspace, virtual reality and the physical world. Mark Zuckerberg describes it as the "embodied internet" that users not only look at on screens, but in which they are. (Source: www.bbc.com/news/technology-57942909)

Features of the Metaverse

The following properties and characteristics of a metaverse can already be defined today:

  • Real-time rendered, unconstrained, persistent 3D spaces in which users move freely as avatars
  • 3D collective spaces where users explore, create, play, work, socialize, and conduct business without being in the same physical space
  • Companies do not "own" the Metaverse, as it is a collectively shared technical infrastructure
  • Cross-device and cross-system virtual rooms can be created by users and made accessible to other users
  • Extended- and Mixed-Reality-Technologien are used and enable interactions between digital and real spaces, e.g. B. VR glasses, digital assistants, smart/voice user interfaces (VUI), neural chips, Machine Learning, artificial intelligences and artificial neural networks
  • Compatible virtual and real currencies form a unified economy for digital and physical spaces
  • A totality of virtual and physical spaces requires compatible technical standards, protocols, interoperability, digital ownership, blockchain technologies and uniform legislation

Metaverse: Where did the idea come from?

Technical innovations such as smartphones, smart glasses and iPods come as no surprise to science fiction fans. Ray Bradbury already described wireless earpods and portable media players in his classic "Fahrenheit 451" (1953). Digital assistants like Alexa and artificial intelligence have already appeared in science fiction novels like “2001 – A Space Odyssey” (1968). Tablets, smartphones, video calls, robots - the world of the 21st century. The twentieth century is populated with technologies that used to be just pipe dreams and fictions.

The same is true for the metaverse, which first appeared as a term in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash, but is much older as an idea. The merging and interaction of reality with virtual 3D spaces can be foand in the cyberpunk genre of the 1980s as well as in modern film interpretations such as "The Matrix" (1999) and "Ready Player One" (2018). But the Metaverse isn't just fiction today. Practical examples of this have long existed.

Example 1: Second Life

Since 2003, the online 3D infrastructure Second Life has enabled users to move around as avatars in self-created virtual spaces, make contacts, conclude deals, play games or communicate. Second Life was developed as an open source platform by Linden Lab and had around one million users in 2013. SL is not an online game in the true sense of the word, as there is no "goal" and no definition of "winning" or "losing". In addition, numerous companies such as Microsoft, Intel, IBM or Adidas operate "in-world" shops, which opened up new possibilities for virtual marketing. Now over 17 years old, Second Life is considered one of the earliest versions of a rudimentary, practically implemented metaverse.

Example 2: MMO – Massively Multiplayer Online

Massively multiplayer online games such as Fortnite, World of Warcraft (WoW), Minecraft, Roblox or Final Fantasy XIV are very popular. So-called MMOs are virtual persistent worlds that are used by thousands of players at the same time. MMOs can be divided into different concepts or concepts. Genres. There are online role-playing games, strategy games and virtual battlefields. Users of games like WoW or Final Fantasy XIV move in skins or skins. Avatars through thematically limited online worlds, play globally with other participants at the same time, buy virtual items with real money and follow their own or predefined game campaigns.

In sandbox MMOs such as Minecraft, Roblox and Animal Crossings, on the other hand, players can design virtual rooms relatively freely and interact with other players. Since MMOs are currently thematically limited and offer little overlap with physical spaces, the line to the metaverse has not yet been crossed here. This could change if MMOs are networked and gamers can move freely between different MMO rooms with their avatars.

Metaverse and its importance for e-commerce

The metaverse doesn't just offer users new ways to experience virtual spaces. Companies are also opening up new e-commerce options. The Corona crisis showed how flexibly a networked world can react to limited contacts when social and business life shifts to the metaverse. Especially with regard to the live analysis of user data, online shopping and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the metaverse opens up new marketing strategies. This includes opportunities to expand customer groups, create visibility for your own brand and interact with customers directly and worldwide.

Advertising and marketing campaigns are carried out via targeted ads, Keyword analysis, Brand Building and Social-Media-Marketing will go far beyond social digital spaces if they are not limited to apps, web addresses and interfaces such as smartphones and laptops. An example of this is concerts and events that have been moved to virtual stadiums and locations due to lockdowns. Other examples are digital counterparts of real locations and products that enable online viewings, fittings in virtual changing rooms or digital inspections (e.g. of used cars).

The Facebook Metaverse: Metaverse as a vision of the future

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one of the strongest advocates and biggest investors in the metaverse. In 2021, he announced that he would transform Facebook into a metaverse company in the coming years. Facebook recently provided million in funding as part of the XR Programs and Research Fund to advance research and development programs on the metaverse within two years. This also includes studies on the potential of AR wearables such as the planned smart glasses from Facebook Reality Labs. Metaverse is the new "computing platform," according to Facebook. For this reason, the online giant invests an estimated several billion dollars annually in the development of enabling technologies.

Facebook's currently largest metaverse project is called Horizon Workrooms and focuses on the "Metaverse for Work". Currently available as a beta version of the Oculus app, Horizon Workrooms supports new forms of hybrid work models. Horizon users can actively collaborate with colleagues in other locations in the form of avatars in virtual conference rooms. Remote training programs, further training opportunities or customer consultations should also be considered here. With an estimated three billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social media company in the world. The "metaverse for work" is therefore only a first step into a world where users interact, design, play and buy in the metaverse without sharing a physical location.