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Conversations about the metaverse are everywhere these days. But how far away is a true metaverse experience?
One answer to this question depends on how you define “metaverse.”
Some people believe the only definition of the metaverse is one huge integrated virtual world, where you can move from point to point in a seamless virtual experience using a single avatar.
In which case we are a long, long way away.
Bernard Marr — who is one of Web3’s foremost influencers — uses a slightly different working definition, and in doing so brings the metaverse into the here and now.
For him, the metaverse is “a digital world that is becoming increasingly immersive,” and an evolution of a techno-trend that began many years ago.
Marr even traces its genesis back to 1838 when scientist Sir Charles Wheatstone conceived of “binocular vision” — the idea of combining two images to make a single three dimensional one. There’s a direct line between that and modern VR headsets, he maintains.
READ MORE: A Short History Of The Metaverse (Bernard Marr & Co)
Recent advances in technology have accelerated this trend. Indeed, there are already a number of experiences available to us in a multiverse, he argues in a new blog post.
For example; “You can simply Google a dinosaur and look at it in your living room using augmented reality. In Fortnite, you can play the game using an avatar and watch concerts by artists within the platform in a joint immersive experience with thousands of other Fortnite members.”
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We also have Facebook Horizons, a virtual world in which your avatar can join meetings and connect socially with other players, and Nvidia’s creation of a digital co-working environment “that goes way beyond typical Zoom conferencing calls.”
He points to luxury brands like Gucci selling virtual goods from virtual stores that are only wearable digitally; and Nike’s purchase of RTFKT, a company that creates one-of-a-kind digital sneakers, artifacts, and other NFTs.
There are numerous such developments. Then you couple that, as Marr does, with innovations in consumer AR/VR goggles and wearables, and he contends that this will speed up the evolution of the metaverse.
“With 5G technology advancements, we will continue to see more untethered headsets that you can use when you’re on the move, without the constraints of Wi-Fi connections.”
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He is not the only commentator to signal out Apple’s highly anticipated AR/VR headset as the inflection point when buying and wearing augmented reality gear becomes fashionable and mainstream.
For these reasons Marr’s answer to the question, “When will we be able to access the metaverse?” is “We already can! We are currently in the midst of an XR evolution, and there are new innovations happening every day.”
I’m not convinced. We make look back on this in a decade or so as the foothills of a more immersive internet but right now I think calling these experiences the metaverse does the metaverse a disservice. These are just iterations of familiar corporate exercises. Branding an experience as being in the metaverse is lazy marketing and wearing any sort of VR/AR gear is hugely clunky and uncomfortable. There is a long, long way to go yet.