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METAVERSE: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Metaverse, derived from the combination of the English word “universe” and the Greek word meaning “beyond,” can be translated as “beyond universe.” As such, Metaverse defines a universe beyond our current social reality, a ‘meta’ or ‘beyond’ world. In this new realm, individuals can create fictional characters and socialize in a completely different universe from the real world using Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

Who Founded Metaverse?

There isn’t a single founder or owner of Metaverse. The concept has evolved through a combination of augmented reality and blockchain technology with social media, shaped by all its users. Metaverse is thus considered a decentralized virtual universe shaped by technological and economic changes.

While Metaverse might be understood as an advanced version of VR (Virtual Reality) technology, no VR application has encompassed such a vast universe design until now. The most notable precursor to this design is the game “Second Life,” a life simulation game from 2003, where users can create profiles, choose appearances, professions, and interact with others.

The Gateway to Metaverse: Growing Interest in Virtual Reality Headsets

As interest in the Metaverse universe grows, users are turning to virtual reality headsets to experience it. These devices, which allow users to feel like they’re in a specially crafted virtual environment, enable individuals to engage in realistic interactions while being fully immersed in a virtual environment.

With the development of Metaverse projects, sales of virtual reality headsets are also increasing. According to market research firm TrendForce, sales of virtual reality headsets reached around 9.86 million units in 2021, almost doubling to approximately 14 million units in 2022. The report also predicts sales of over 18 million units in 2023. Additionally, a report from IDM previously estimated sales of 35 million virtual reality headsets in 2026.

Why Does Metaverse Excite People?

When considering Metaverse, it’s essential to evaluate it alongside the internet, social networks, computer games, virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cryptocurrencies, high-speed internet (5G), and artificial intelligence. Breakthroughs in each of these technologies are opening doors to a new virtual world previously unimaginable. This convergence is perhaps what excites people about the concept of Metaverse.

Metaverse is not merely a concept anymore but has become a tangible reality. It defines a virtual world associated with the real world, where individuals can control their avatars in a virtual environment using various hardware devices such as keyboards, gamepads, goggles, and cameras. They can produce digital content, communicate with others, and generate economic value through these interactions.

While some view Metaverse as simply the three-dimensional (3D) model of the internet, others interpret it differently. For some, Metaverse is not just an environment but also a period—a time when the virtual world becomes more significant than the real one. Over the past 20-30 years, a transformation has been underway, with the virtual world becoming increasingly valuable. People now build their social circles through social media, finding friends in virtual environments.

In conclusion, Metaverse represents a significant shift in how we perceive and interact with digital space, offering a glimpse into a future where the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds blur.

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What Are the Use Cases of Metaverse?

It’s important to note that the Metaverse as defined earlier doesn’t yet exist! Metaverse is more of a concept that many individuals and organizations are working on for the future. There are several virtual worlds at the forefront, attempting to take the initial steps toward Metaverse. Examining these can give us insights into what we can do with the Metaverse.

Horizon: Horizon is a virtual world developed by Meta (Facebook). It consists of three main sections: Worlds, which is focused on gaming and interaction; Venue, where people gather in various clubs to meet and chat; and Workroom, designed for business meetings. Meta (Facebook) aims to invest at least $10 billion in this area over the next five years.

Games:

  • Axie Infinity:

Axie Infinity is a game featuring creatures similar to Pokémon called Axies. The game’s standout feature is its virtual world where players can use cryptocurrencies alongside their characters. While it may not fully fit the definition of Metaverse, it provides insights into how cryptocurrencies can be used on similar platforms.

  • Minecraft and The Sandbox:

Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, The Sandbox offers a world where users can create their own content and potentially earn income through Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

  • Roblox:

Roblox is one of the most popular virtual world games, especially among children and teenagers. Rather than a single game, it offers a variety of mini-games and experiences created by users. These experiences include virtual worlds that can be considered part of the Metaverse. With support for VR headsets, Roblox is currently one of the closest “worlds” to the Metaverse. With 50 million active players, users can embody different characters, engage in simulations, or experience business-like scenarios. In Roblox, you can be a bee collecting honey or work at a pizza parlor.

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How Does Metaverse Work?

Actually, we should ask not how it works but rather how it will work because there isn’t a Metaverse as defined yet! Technically, we can think of Metaverse like a computer game, but it needs to be more comprehensive and integrated with external systems. For the defined Metaverse experience, various devices, both existing and yet to be developed, are required.

For instance, for virtual and augmented reality experiences, lightweight goggles, advanced hologram technologies, various sensors for interaction, high-capacity computers, and high-speed internet connections are necessary. Let’s explore the details of both the technological infrastructure and the ecosystem layer that will build upon it.

Metaverse Ecosystem

Avatar: In digital environments, users express themselves through avatars. Many recent games and applications offer various options for changing and easily editing avatars. With current technologies, avatars resembling our physical appearance can be automatically created. Factors such as facial details, gestures, mimicry, full-body existence, styles used, color, posture, resolution, naturalness of movements, shading, response time, synchronization with real-world organs, and interaction between avatars can affect users’ sense of reality and satisfaction levels in the Metaverse.

Content Creation:

In the Metaverse, it’s not possible for all content to be created solely by professional design experts; users also need to be provided with the necessary tools to produce content in various categories. These tools include virtual keyboards, workflow diagrams, 3D object creation with wearable devices, creating characters with different behaviors supported by artificial intelligence, digitizing drawings made in the physical environment using image processing techniques, and specialized editors for advanced users.

Virtual Economy:

Over the past twenty years, we’ve observed examples where users create and sustain in-game economic systems. The space-themed game EVE Online is a successful example of this. However, this doesn’t mean that Metaverse developers can mimic EVE’s success and delegate all economic governance to their users.

Metaverse harbors a strong potential for trade, and the necessary infrastructure for this needs to be prepared. Here, trade can take place in various forms, such as between users (C2C) or from business to user (B2C), similar to real life.

Users in the Metaverse can conduct trade using NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). For this to happen, the Metaverse must be highly compatible with blockchain technology. However, it’s important to note that Metaverse trading is not the same as current e-commerce.

Social Acceptance:

The successful implementation of the Metaverse depends on its adoption by users. For this, various factors such as privacy, cultural diversity, technology addiction, bullying, generational differences, and environmental awareness need to be considered. When such factors are not considered, it may not be possible for the Metaverse to be accepted by society.

For example, when Google Glass, an AR headset that continuously recorded images, was introduced about ten years ago, it received significant criticism as it was considered a threat to both users’ and others’ privacy, leading to the cancellation of the project before it became widespread.

Recently, the personal data collected by Facebook being used by organizations like Cambridge Analytica turned into a kind of scandal, leading to numerous investigations.

Assessment:

Virtual items, initially only valued by gamers, have become a billion-dollar economy over time, expanding into fields such as fashion, real estate, and art. Applications like Bitmoji, Memojis, Genies, and Loom have popularized personalized digital avatars. Such trends facilitate the blending of the real and virtual worlds, feeding into each other.

For example, an app called Aglet allows users to find virtual shoes through a Pokemon Go-style game, which collectors of sneaker-type shoes can then collect in the real world. This interplay between the real and virtual worlds opens up new economic opportunities.

In conclusion, while there isn’t yet a fully realized Metaverse, ongoing technological advancements and the growing interest in virtual experiences suggest that the development of such a virtual realm is within reach.

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What Will Metaverse Impact?

Metaverse will make it easier for brands and sellers to reach users directly without intermediaries. Instead of trying to reach users through millions of websites like the internet, they will be able to reach users through a much smaller number of virtual worlds. Instead of each brand communicating with its customers through its own website, shopping will be facilitated through mutual interaction in a virtual world. Big technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Amazon will likely want to be major players in this field by making massive investments. While offering virtual products may be trendy today, in the next five years, the trend will likely shift towards designing more comprehensive and detailed virtual worlds that provide immersive shopping experiences.

In conclusion, whether you consider the Metaverse as a new concept or just a marketing move, it’s evident that we are moving towards a new world where real life and the virtual world blend together.

While some of the claims about the Metaverse are already coming true, we may have to wait for others. To take advantage of the opportunities brought by such transformations, it’s advisable to stay away from misinformation and thoroughly research the products and services offered before using them.

How to Buy Land in the Metaverse?

Investments in the Metaverse world are usually made through cryptocurrencies. Platforms have their own designated cryptocurrencies and accept payments with these currencies. Another common payment method that stands out in buying and selling transactions in the Metaverse is payment through NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

First, you need to determine the Metaverse platform where you want to buy land. There are several prominent platforms, each with independent virtual worlds. Once you have identified the platform you want to invest in, create an account on that platform.

After creating your account, identify the plot of land you want to purchase. It’s worth noting that the land you purchase should not have been sold yet. Determine where to buy based on your investment budget and available plots.

Next, you need to link your digital wallet to your account on the platform. To do this, you need to have a digital wallet. Metamask is currently the most widely used and accepted digital wallet on the market, compatible with many Metaverse platforms.

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