The Metaverse: Deconstructed
Back in the day, the idea of the physical world converging with augmented and virtual reality was that of science fiction.
Imagine Neo getting plugged into the Matrix while lying unconscious on Nebuchadnezzar, a ship that’s navigating its way to the last refuge of free humans.
Or imagine Wade Watts, the avid Gunter in virtual reality OASIS, who became both a virtual and real-world hero through his avatar Parzival.
Whether it’s The Matrix or Ready Player One, there were a lot of different takes on how the physical world would eventually meet with digital reality.
Today, that is not just the stuff of science fiction anymore - it’s here, and it’s called the metaverse.
Breaking Down the Basics of the Metaverse
The term “metaverse” is a combination of the prefix “meta”, which means beyond, and the word “verse”, which refers to the universe. It was coined by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel, Snow Crash, which came out back in 1992.
The book was beyond its time, with Stephenson envisioning the metaverse as the successor of the Internet of today - one that he projected to eventually become virtual-reality-based in the future.
Almost three decades after the author first introduced the term, there is still no universally accepted definition of a real “metaverse”, but the word has definitely evolved into something more than just a dystopian setting in Snow Crash.
While Stephenson’s metaverse hones in on it being a “virtual reality”, today, the world is looking at the metaverse being built not as a coin flip between AR and VR, but as a digital world that encompasses both and more.
In a nutshell, the metaverse can be summed up as an immersive alternate digital reality where the physical world as we know it converges with virtual and augmented realities.
You can think of the metaverse as a digital environment where people can walk around, hang out with each other, buy goods and services, and participate in events.
It is the next iteration of the Internet where instead of just going online and clicking away on your computer, you will actually be in cyberspace interacting, socializing, and functioning through your avatar.
The Value of the Metaverse in the Real World
In a world fighting a global pandemic, it would have been easy to dismiss something as unfamiliar and strange as the concept of the metaverse.
Instead, Covid forced countries to go into lockdowns and people had no choice but to stay at home and go online to go about their day - whether it be working, attending classes, playing with friends, shopping, ordering food, or even just buying basic supplies.
It was a new kind of reality that blurs the line between what we can do in the physical world personally and what we can do in the physical world virtually - and that provided a perfect setup for the metaverse to thrive.
Yet if we take Covid out of the equation, what lasting and sustainable value does the metaverse have for it to be considered the next iteration of the Internet? Why should we care about it?
The answer to that is actually pretty simple: the metaverse has the potential of creating opportunities for people all over the world to have equal access to a global market regardless of background, status, or experience.
The State of the Metaverse
Many companies are now in the process of developing AR and VR technologies to provide users with a more immersive and seamless experience in the metaverse.
While it still remains to be seen to what extent a universally shared and accepted metaverse is possible, the fledgling industry is already off to a promising start.
In September this year, Facebook announced a US$50 million investment geared towards the research and development of its own metaverse.
Other big tech firms have also set their eyes on the metaverse, with both Google and Microsoft investing in cloud computing and VR companies in anticipation of its growth.
The accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) noted in its report last year that the augmented reality and virtual reality market is poised to boost the global economy from US$46.4 billion in 2019 to US$1.5 trillion by 2030.
Meanwhile, BusinessWire’s report released in February this year forecasted that the global AR and VR market will grow by US$125.19 billion during 2020-2024, with the APAC region seen to emerge as the major market.
This is partly due to the APAC area dominating the AR and VR market with a 37% share in 2019, with factors such as key vendors, a growing gaming industry in Japan, China, and India, and increasing investments in AR and VR technologies figuring into the equation.
In Southeast Asia, the expanding AR and VR market is also poised to see exciting growth with Indonesia welcoming an influx of startups exploring augmented reality solutions in the country, Cambodia partnering with Singapore-based Hiverlab with the goal of making AR and VR tech more accessible in the region, and the Philippines’ Museo Pambata collaborating with a health-tech company to launch a mobile app that uses augmented reality to foster education, among others.
Real Interactions in a Digital World
Perhaps one of the most relatable ways to understand how the metaverse works is to look at it from a gamer’s perspective where you enter the space to play and interact with other players.
What makes the metaverse different is that instead of your interactions being limited to pre-programmed gaming functions, you have the autonomy to do whatever you want, which can go beyond just playing games.
Shopping? Fully immersive. Checking out a new art exhibit? Seamless.
By using blockchain technology, these platforms have built entire worlds that exist completely online, but which creates value that translates in the real world - whether it’s through NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and beyond.
For example, you want to hang out with your friend but there are travel restrictions or maybe he lives too far away. The thing with the metaverse is that physical limitations like distance and travel are never a problem.
To meet up, you can both decide to go to a platform like RFOX VALT instead. RFOX VALT is RedFOX Labs' very own metaverse which is designed for this kind of things and more. While it is still currently in its land-sale stage, it will eventually be open to the public to provide a fully immersive leisure and retail experience.
In our example, let's say RFOX VALT is already open to the public. You and your friend can decide to meet up there through your avatars and attend a virtual concert by an up-and-coming artist that would be happening in a few hours.
You and your friend both got there early and had time to burn, so you checked out a store in the Callinova quarter. By sheer luck, it turned out to be the same store that you’ve always wanted to check out in real life but never got around to visiting.
You bought a t-shirt paid for with RFOX - RFOX VALT’s transactional cryptocurrency - before you and your friend went on your way to the concert. There, you both purchased limited edition merch in the form of NFTs to accessorize each of your avatars.
About an hour later, you hear the doorbell ring in your apartment and there on your front step was the shirt you ordered from the shop within RFOX VALT. Isn’t that neat?
This is just one scenario where the metaverse can come into play but the possibilities are infinite - think being able to participate in tournaments of your favourite play-to-earn game without bothering with logistics, or going to school without leaving your home whether you’re the student or the teacher, or even partying with friends online.
The metaverse is the next big thing because within its AR and VR ecosystem, anything is possible - and it is here.
NFTs present a good marketing opportunity for big brands and a major step towards making a deeper connection with current customers and new communities.
The ultimate goal of RFOX is to take a lot of the market share because of their multiple games and the calls can be used across multiple games. It’s not just a one-faceted type of approach as they are going after everything.
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