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What Is the Metaverse

Last updated 13th Dec 2022
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A metaverse is a virtual environment or a virtual world where individuals can shop, play, interact, and from any part of the world using a VR headset or AR goggles, or any other technology device that teleports the users to this digital world. It is an interesting technological innovation with a ton of potential to redefine the way people digitally connect with each other.

The metaverse will include familiar 2D experiences, as well as ones projected into the physical world and fully immersive 3D ones too.

In this introductory guide on the metaverse, we will cover its use cases, what the term metaverse involves, the technologies involved, the pros and cons, and conclude with a prediction on when they might become mainstream.

What technologies are involved in the metaverse?

As a combinatorial innovation, metaverses require multiple technologies and trends to function. These technologies included in the metaverse are virtual reality and augmented reality among others, which allow people to interact in a virtual world.

Contributing trends include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), flexible work styles, head-mounted displays (HMDs), an AR cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial computing.

Discussing the technologies involved in a metaverse will help you understand what’s involved and how it will work in practice.

  • Virtual Reality: Virtual reality is the application of technology that builds a virtual world or a simulated environment. Wearing VR headsets immerses the users into an experience rather than watching a screen placed in front of them. Various senses are stimulated like vision, touch, and even smell. According to technologists, the metaverse will take the virtual reality experience to the next level. Virtual reality can have many different applications by creating a virtual world.

  • Augmented Reality: Augmented reality is another reality technology that place and anchor the digital objects in reality. They don’t appear in the physical environment but when you wear your AR glasses, your phone screen make it look like those objects are available in the space. However, must be said that a metaverse centred on augmented reality wouldn't be a completely new digital world. With AR, users use their smartphone (or other device) to digitally enhance what they perceive in the physical world in real-time, allowing them to tap into a virtual world while still feeling present in this one.

  • IoT (internet of things): A significant number of physical devices can be smoothly connected to the 3D world by implementing IoT. This makes it possible to create metaverse-wide real-time simulations.

  • AI: The AI technology is playing a critical role in expanding the Metaverse scope by providing capabilities including but not limited to object detection, cybersickness control, improved rendering, user-input interpretation, NLP models, and more.

  • Blockchain Technology: This is the core technology that fulfills the six different aspects of the Metaverse: transfer of value, interoperability, digital proof-of-ownership, accessibility, governance, and digital collectibility.

  • Cryptocurrencies: Just like PayPal or Debit/Credit cards fulfill the need of commerce in web 2.0, the transfer of value in Metaverse is cryptocurrency. It is because cryptocurrency enables direct peer-to-peer transactions, near to zero transaction fees, traceability, decentralization, and instant transaction. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin are some of the more popular cryptocurrencies at the time of writing.

  • NFT: The re-invention of the digital ownership, streamlining the buying, selling, and trading of digital items, and reducing the probability of fraud are the prime objectives of the NFT. It is a form of a digital asset designed on top of a blockchain network and unique to the individual who is the owner. The characteristics of an NFT include: rareness, uniqueness, traceability, and more.

The technologies listed above are the pillars of the metaverse and many more technological integrations are currently in the testing phase that will improve the efficiency and adoption of the metaverse across the globe.

Metaverse Applications and Use Cases

In this section, we have shared the problems the metaverse can solve and the various use cases of this technology in digital commerce and society, for example when using virtual reality and augmented reality.

Metaverse ApplicationExample
Learning SpacesVirtual Tours
WorkplacesAR and VR-based meetings
Virtual Markets & BusinessesMarket products in a 3D virtual
Social Platform Expansioninteracting in three-dimensional spaces

Learning Spaces

The pandemic has forced many people to change the way they learn. With the explosion of e-learning, many students are choosing to study remotely, which means simply attending the lectures with a laptop and an internet connection.

So far so good, but this e-learning initiative has killed the idea of being in the classroom where the students can see the teacher perform hand gestures while immersing themselves with the vibe of the room. However, when the e-learning is migrated to the metaverse environment using for example virtual reality, where the classroom is transformed into a virtual world with a whole new territory where the students can experience the following:

  • Virtual 3D Classrooms

  • Virtual Tours

  • Events & People

  • Virtual Campus Activities

  • Interdisciplinary Learning

Furthermore, the ability to feel the haptics, sense the vibrations, and witness the holograms of the teachers and their classmates takes the learning experience in the metaverse to a whole new level. The use of virtual reality became very popular because it started to be highly extended as virtual reality can be applied to many different tasks

Workplace

The graphically rich and 3D environment of a metaverse boardroom may allow for more interactivity during discussions, meetings, or brainstorming sessions. There is no shortage of memes regarding Zoom meetings where users are bored and ignore the video calls.

However, the added interactivity and immersion expereince offered in a metaverse might appeal to more employees, thus boosting productivity. Let’s have a look at how metaverse can transform a work environment and business practices:

  • AR and VR-based meetings

  • More social environment

  • Job training, learning, and development

  • Flexibility and customization in the work environment

  • Ability to scale the workspace and adding more teams

Virtual Markets & Businesses

It’s not difficult to imagine a future where you would walk around a virtual market and view services/goods and buy directly using cryptocurrencies. This would open up markets to virtually anyone with an internet connection and the equipment to interact with the metaverse and virtual reality.

Depending on the industry, the ability of companies to market products in a 3D virtual setting may be enhanced. For example, car companies could show off the benefits of specific parts with detailed annotations.

Real estate agents could create copies of the homes they are trying to sell for people to walk around without visiting the location in person just using virtual reality. Technological advancements will improve the realism and authenticity of such experiences.

Social Platform Expansion

Yes, virtual worlds for socializing will become quite popular, but they will not be the means through which immersive media transforms society. There are hundreds of millions of people accessing real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds each day via tablets and smartphones and thanks to social media, there are potential benefits that aren't limited to virtual worlds.

When metaverses are mainstream, and most people have the means to access them, the social media landscape will evolve. On these social media, people will become used to interacting in three-dimensional spaces and virtual worlds since they are more immersive, looking like they are interacting in the real world.

The combination of augmented reality and virtual reality will open up new communication methods that are not available with current social media platforms. Depending on the scope of the metaverse, these experiences will be integrated with other aspects of life. For example, users could view trailers of movies, agree on a choice and buy tickets directly in the metaverse using cryptocurrencies.

Many social media and tech companies such as Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft are investing heavily in Social VR to create platforms where people can connect socially or work remotely. With these new technologies, social media can change the way we communicate, for example using virtual reality and augmented reality.

Metaverse Coins

Investing in metaverse coins is the easiest method for investors to get a stake in the metaverse.

Metaverse coins are virtual tokens used for digital transactions in the virtual 3D world. Token holders get access to goods and services using virtual reality and augmented reality in this virtual world. The coins can buy lands, NFTs and represent unique items.

There are various reasons you can invest in metaverse coins.

  • Prices for metaverse coins are currently lowly priced. We reckon their values will increase exponentially once the masses adopt the metaverse.

  • Experts believe the metaverse has greater potential than the internet.

  • Giant corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, and Addidas have invested heavily in metaverse projects.

  • Investment companies such as JP Morgan and Grayscale have interests in metaverse projects like Decentraland.

  • Celebrities like Snoop Dog have invested in the metaverse.

Metaverse Forecasts

JP Morgan is also extremely bullish about the prospects of the metaverse. The investment bank estimates the market opportunity at over $1 trillion in yearly revenue.

Grayscale, another investment company, based in the US, describes the metaverse as the frontier of web 3.0, which is set to revolutionize the internet and the way people interact in a virtual world by using technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. The company estimates that the metaverse has the potential to top $1 trillion annually.

Citi bank, a leading investment bank, predicts that the metaverse could be worth close to $13 trillion by 2030. Their analysis estimates about 5 billion users in the metaverse by 2030.

Top Ongoing Metaverse Projects

Metaverse ProjectMarket CapPrice
Axie Infinity (AXS)$3.3 billion$54.2
Decentraland (MANA)$4.3 billion$2.3
Sandbox (SAND)$5.3 billion$3.0
Enjin Coin (ENJ)$1.47 billion$1.69
Blocktopia$158 million40.08
Somnium Space (CUBE)$63.5 million$5
Render Token (RNDR)$610 million$2.64
High Street (HIGH)$70 million$5.74
Star Atlas$59 million$0.027
Illuvium (ILV)$385 million$592

Metaverse, Web 3.0, Non-fungible tokens (NFT), and cryptocurrencies are terminologies increasingly proliferating our daily news cycle. The power of these technologies has not been realized yet. The future promises a revolution capable of driving economies globally, both digitally and physically.

The metaverse is at the center of all this. Experts suggest it's the next iteration of the internet, albeit with spheres unseen before. Work, commerce, art, games, and other forms of entertainment are likely to shift to the metaverse soon.

The development of these ecosystems that don't exist in the real world helps build communities with shared values. Common goals accelerate better interactions leading to a sense of belonging. This was especially noticeable during the covid period when many people spent their time online and the interest on virtual reality and augmented reality increased.

There are different ways to categorize the top coins. We analyze the top coins in 2022 using a hybrid method that considers market cap and potential. If you are interested in buying cryptocurrencies focussing on the metaverse, here is our list.

Axie Infinity (AXS)

  • Market cap: $3.3 billion

  • Price: $54.2

Axie Infinity is a top crypto-based NFT pet game that has garnered immense popularity. The pokemon like creatures in the game are the core feature. Players can raise, battle, buy, trade, and breed these cute pets known as axies.

Launched in 2020, the project is a prime example of a play-to-earn game(p2e). Gamers get the opportunity to earn rewards after completing tasks and levels in the game. This has proved to be a great incentive to gamers. There are reports that some enthusiasts quit their jobs to pursue the p2e lifestyle.

The minted axies can be represented by NFTs, which the players can sell in the open market. The platform also supports virtual land that traders can buy and sell. In-game purchases are made through the native AXS token.

The project is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. However, there’s also a sidechain known as Ronin, which has lower gas fees than Ethereum.

Decentraland (MANA)

  • Market cap: $4.3 billion

  • Price: $2.3

Decentraland, one of the early pioneers of the metaverse is a multi-purpose metaverse environment where the players can design their lands, host concerts, generate content, and involve in social gatherings and activities.

The digital identification, ownership, and rareness in Decentraland is based on the blockchain technology (Ethereum to be specific). It is reported that Decentraland will enable interoperability with multiple other Metaverse projects as its next big upgrade.

Have a look at some interesting initiatives from Decentraland:

  • Create: The users can create the scenes and artwork using a simple Builder tool and also participate in the events to win exciting prizes.

  • Trade: Buy and sell NFT items like LAND, estates, and names using native marketplace of Decentraland.

  • DAO: Decentraland is operated via the DAO (Decentralized Autonmous Organization), which means that the power to control the direction of the project is in the hands of the community.

  • Events: Explore and attend events related to gaming, education, competition, live performances, music, networking, sports, and more.

Transactions in the ecosystem are done through the MANA token. The tokens can buy wearables, estates, collectibles, and avatars through the Decentraland Marketplace. You can buy MANA tokens on crypto exchanges using fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies like Tether.

Sandbox (SAND)

  • Market cap: $3.5 billion

  • Price: $3.0

Launched in 2011 as a mobile phone game, Sandbox has traveled a long way to transform itself into a metaverse project where the players can explore a lot of things including but not limited to the following:

  • Play-to-Earn Games

  • Avatar Collections

  • Land NFTs

  • Content Monetization

  • Virtual Events

  • NFT Marketplace

  • Game Maker Toolbox

  • Rent & Sell Game Experiences

The Sandbox project was initiated with an idea of disrupting the existing game makers including Minecraft and Roblox by providing the creators with an opportunity of true ownership of their creations via NFTs and rewarding them for contributing their time, skills, and participation in the ecosystem.

You can buy SAND tokens on exchanges. The token reached its all-time high price of $8.44 in late 2021. This represented a 10,000% increase in price since its all-time low in 2020.

Enjin Coin (ENJ)

  • Market Cap: $1.47 billion

  • Price: $1.69

The Enjin platform has multiple functionalities. It provides a marketplace where games and creators can sell and buy items created in the metaverse. The platform acts as an in-game database where users can store and manage gaming items.

The platform is built on the Ethereum blockchain. The native token for the ecosystem is known as ENJ (you can buy ENJ from crypto brokers and exchanges). The token is used to create assets and in-game items through minting. ENJ can also be used to create a game’s character name, shape, appearance, and increase the character’s abilities.

Bloktopia (BLOK)

  • Market Cap: $158 million

  • Price: $0.018

Bloktopia is a decentralized metaverse built on top of the Polygon blockchain. The project seeks to provide a 3D immersive experience, uniting the crypto community in an engaging environment.

The potential behind this metaverse is great, with the promise of realistic visualization based on a real-time 3D creation engine. Blok is the native token of the project. The token will be used to buy or lease virtual land in Bloktopia. It can be bought and sold on exchanges.

Blok holders can also stake their tokens with massive returns. The platform offers a 60% annual percentage yield (APY) in Blok tokens.

With various investors and partners, this gaming and marketplace platform looks to have great potential.

Somnium Space (CUBE)

  • Market Cap: $63.5 million

  • Price: $5

Somnium space is a blockchain VR metaverse. The creators aim at making this virtual reality world an open, seamless ecosystem that is fully immersive and interconnected.

The project has interesting in-game mechanics, including cross-platform compatibility, a persistent social VR world, land ownership, and the ability to monetize space through advertising.

The native token CUBE acts as the digital currency in the platform. Investors can buy CUBE from exchanges.

Render Token (RNDR)

  • Market Cap: $610 million

  • Price: $2.64

The project facilitates the rendering of the metaverse. It’s a provider of decentralized GPU-based rendering solutions, altering the space for digital creation process. Render seeks to solve the problem of hardware limitation with low costs.

Render aims to facilitate the open metaverse. Developers can rent out their idle GPU and earn RNDR tokens.

High Street (HIGH)

  • Market Cap: $70 million

  • Price: $5.74

High Street metaverse looks to effectively solidify the hybrid model of our lives by bridging the gap between our online and real lives. The project provides authentic products with additional utilities by turning them into in-game items.

High Street offers a marketplace and gaming platform. It's a play-to-earn game that has attracted lots of gamers.

Star Atlas (ATLAS)

  • Market Cap: $59 million

  • Price: $0.027

Star Atlas is a gaming metaverse built on the Solana blockchain. Gamers can create, play and learn in a cinematic experience made with Unreal Engine 5.

After launching, the game received genuine interest from gamers due to its high-level immersive experience. The game is still in its nascent stages and shows growth potential, considering its lofty plans and partnerships.

Illuvium (ILV)

  • Market Cap: $385 million

  • Price: $592

This metaverse is an open-world fantasy game built on Ethereum. It's another play-to-earn game with rich graphics. Gamers discover, hunt, and capture deadly creatures in a digital world.

Like axie infinity and other metaverse games, illuvium features collectible in-game characters.

The illuvium project has unique features that you don’t find in other metaverse games. These include illuviDEX, yield farming, and Layer-2 integration.

ILV tokens experienced extreme price volatility. The all-time price was $2,868, recorded in May 2021. A couple of days later, the ILV tokens were priced at $29.77. The price has since rebounded to above $660. The all-time high shows that ILV tokens have a high ceiling for growth.

Upland - A Metaverse for Real Estate Agents

A real-estate game built on top of the EOS blockchain network and based on real life, the ultimate goal of Upland is to create a digital economy that blurs the lines between real-world and digital. The in-game NFT assets you buy in Upland like real estate and cars are tethered to the real-life values.

Let’s have a look at some interesting activities you can do in this metaverse:

  • Property: The users can join Upland and own a piece of virtual property which is same as the real world address that you are already familiar with. After owning a piece of virtual land, the users can erect a building on it, create a value, and flip it later on for a margin.

  • Earn: The users can earn money through several ways in Upland including but not limited to flipping properties for profit in the native NFT marketplace and generating income by becoming a business owner.

  • Build: The users can build properties, neighborhoods, and homes based on a variety of different models. This can be achieved by using virtual reality or augmented reality so it looks like they are in the real world.

  • Connect: Connect, socialize, and share strategies with other users in Upland through its Discord server or Telegram channel. The users are also expected to be offered with virtual hang out spaces for an enhanced connectivity experience using virtual reality.

Also, Facebook (Meta) launched Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality VR space that users can navigate as an avatar, and tools for developers to create additional virtual worlds.

Metaverse Pros and Cons

In this section, we have provided an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of a metaverse. This will give you a balanced overview on the benefits and the limitations.

Pros of Metaverse

Communication Advancements
Branding Opportunities
Virtual Economy
Job Creation
Better Education

Cons of Metaverse

Technological Advancements are Required
Security and Protection
Dependence and Exclusion

Will the Metaverse Change Our Lives?

In conclusion, the metaverse could be the next life-changing technological advancement or a hype train leading nowhere. In any case, the creativity of the top metaverse projects is interesting, and the race to launch the first successful one pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in the digital realm and the virtual world by using virtual reality and augmented reality.

With impressive benefits like digital markets, improved education, more job opportunities, and better communication, metaverse can drive an amazing utility. However, problems like security concerns and tech availability need to be overcome for the masses to be sold on switching even more aspects of their life to the digital sphere.

It seems like the concept of metaverse is just around the corner and tt’s not unreasonable to think that one with limited functionality would be developed within the next few years, and after the foundations have been laid, projects will begin to gain mainstream momentum.

FAQs

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Find Out More About the Metaverse

Stephen Ngari

Stephen Ngari

Stephen is a seasoned crypto and fintech specialist with industry experience. Having worked in tech, helping people send money globally and rollout solutions, he understands the impact that tech like blockchain brings to real world issues. He is passionate about crypto, writing and basketball.