Metaverse Buzzword


Metaverse is a buzzword you have likely heard by now.

In 2022, everybody will know it.

The Metaverse’s profile got a kickstart when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s new name would be “Meta.” But, the truth is that Orlando businesses have been building this virtual world for years.

Orlando is the home of the second-largest convention center in the world. That means that some of the biggest conferences come here.

In recent weeks, that has meant the world’s largest meetup in both the amusement park and military simulation communities. Walking the floor of each of these showed that both have been building solutions and products that will become synonymous with the so-called Metaverse for many years.

A good number of the companies at these trade shows, especially as the pandemic limited overseas travel and the appetite for convention attendance from some U.S. firms, were from Orlando and the region. On the floor, we saw virtual and augmented reality businesses that have created immersive products that bring a user onto virtual roller coasters, into virtual surgery rooms, through imaginary worlds, and those built using the concept of the “digital twin.”

But not only have they built the environments. They have also been building the tools that will bring the general public into these simulated environments.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s back up a second.

What exactly is the metaverse?

A simple definition is found when you Google it. “A virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.” Put plainly: it’s every industry’s playground, 2022.

It’s no stretch to say that the people who are most adept at building this bold new world have video game-building capabilities in their backgrounds. After all, video game companies have been building virtual worlds for 40 years.

Remember the Mushroom Kingdom? While this obviously fictional world initially provided a backdrop for a 100 percent linear adventure, as technology has caught up, players have been freer to explore this world of Koopas and Goombas. That’s what will happen in the metaverse.

In a real-world example that has already happened, Grata CEO Rey Ortega recalls Second Life, a virtual world that people have been existing in since its launch in 2007. “Many of the larger organizations dove in with two feet, buying up virtual property and building three-dimensional offices and hangouts for customers to view their products and services,” Ortega said. “I see the metaverse as the newer version of that because you are totally immersed in the environment, rather than being a bystander through a computer screen.” That world drew some businesses, mostly tech-related, into it.

Businesses, users, and whoever else wants to jump into this new Metaverse will be able to do so and freely explore – with commercials and the opportunity for instant purchases set along the way, of course, just like in Second Life.

What about the risks with this buzzword?

There is a minor risk to so many industries now talking about the Metaverse. Oversaturation has hurt other businesses and concepts. So has overselling technologies. In 1995, Nintendo released its ahead-of-its-time Virtual Boy, which was a virtual reality platform that set some standards. At the time, some expected this set to pave the way for this new technology to become more common. However, consumers were quick to dismiss it and it was discontinued after just 22 games were made for it about a year later.

That left a bitter taste in the mouths of the general public, especially those gamers who couldn’t see how VR could recover. But this is different. As more industries stop using it as a buzzword, more people will be able to experience it in extremely beneficial use cases.

Want to take your virtual car into the virtual shop to diagnose problems based upon symptoms you hear or see in your real-world car? Maybe Midas has a virtual world with discounted diagnostics rates available.

Step into the virtual home furnishings store to see how that sofa will look inside your yet-to-be-built home (which also has a “digital twin”). Or, as an example of a concept an Orlando high school teacher shared with me years ago, imagine students literally able to virtually visit the rain forest to see how humans have impacted it over the years.

These are just three examples of what are absolutely going to be unlimited applications.

While 2021 certainly will be credited with being the one that introduced so many to the concept, 2022 will likely be known as the year the Metaverse is built.

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