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What Is Metaverse? Terms And Trends You Need To Know

Into the metaverse!

What is metaverse? Why should we be curious about this incredible new world that is coming our way? Throughout 2023, the hype around the metaverse has continued. You’ve likely heard recently how the metaverse will usher in a new era of digital connectivity. It’s something that’s coming and is inevitable, we either embrace it at an early stage or get pushed into being part of it eventually.

Evolution of the World Wide Web

The web has evolved with technological advancement. We started from web 1.0, where everything was static and “read-only”, then came web 2.0, which is the current version, that is “dynamic” and emphasizes user-generated content. The new iteration of the world wide web is web 3.0. Web 3.0 is still being defined as technology evolves but the main focus is “decentralization” meaning the control of information is fully given to the creator. We also like to think of web 3.0 as the 3D version of our current 2D websites. Exciting isn’t it?

What is metaverse?

Until recently, metaverse has been part science fiction and part speculation but the term metaverse was coined 30 years ago. The metaverse could be considered the realization of web 3.0, wherein technologies such as blockchain and NFTs finally create truly decentralized digital worlds. Many tech companies are now trying to develop the metaverse or different versions of mixed reality (augmented reality - AR, virtual reality - VR and extended reality - XR) environments.

In October 2021, Facebook announced it was changing its corporate name to “Meta” showing that its next social media upgrade is in that direction. They have already released a VR space called “Workroom Horizon” which is still in its beta version. This is a virtual space where you enter using VR headsets and your digital avatars can collaborate and develop ideas together in a 3D space. Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is probably the best example of an augmented reality device for professional applications. Technology companies, like Apple and Google, are working on the next generation of smart glasses, which will feature augmented reality.

Depending on who you ask, the metaverse could be just a digital representation of physical assets that can be used for simulating different scenarios.

Women in metaverse

In every new evolution, technology even more so, women aren’t the flag bearers. Men seem to be more interested in technology advancement and that highly comes from a gaming perspective. But that’s not the case in the metaverse. There’s a lot of movement happening within some communities and we’re not too late to join the party.

Cathy Hackl is widely considered the Godmother of the metaverse. She is the founder and the Chief Metaverse Officer at Journey. She’s among the top 10 most influential women in tech right now and is leading the way as a metaverse expert and tech futurist. 

World of Women (WoW) is a community celebrating representation, inclusivity and equal opportunities for all. WoW’s vision is to build an inclusive web3 through its collection and community. From the beginning, the WoW has had some famous names added to their community - Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes to name a few. The WoW has an NFT collection featuring 10,000 digital artworks of women from diverse backgrounds. The project celebrates female representation and diversity in the NFT space.

A podcast called Women of the Metaverse has emerged for the future-minded or women on the hunt for the next big thing in business and life. They talk about crypto, NFTs, the metaverse, and everything in between.

 Metaverse glossary

1. Blockchain

Blockchain is the foundation of everything including cryptocurrency, the metaverse, web3 and the NFT space. Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator of blockchain. Blockchain in simple words is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. 

The concept was to have payments go from one person to another without going through a financial institution like your bank. Blockchain was originally developed to buy and sell bitcoin (a cryptocurrency) but now it’s used to store art, buy and sell NFTs and for contract exchanges (in the future, when you buy or sell a house, you’ll be using the blockchain technology rather than the static contracts that are in place today). 

The first block in a blockchain is called “Genesis”. Each time a transaction is made, data is recorded on a block and they link together in a date and time order in a chain, hence the name blockchain. Three factors make it secure - hashing, proof of work (a complex puzzle) and the fact that blocks are distributed across the network.

2. Cryptocurrency

A cryptocurrency is a digital currency, which is an alternative form of payment created using encryption algorithms. Some examples of cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, etc. Blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency (among other things).

3. Blockchain wallet

Digital wallets are online payment tools, usually in the form of an app. A blockchain wallet is a cryptocurrency wallet that allows users to manage different kinds of cryptocurrencies. Transactions are secure, as they are cryptographically signed.

Can our wallet be hacked? Yes, a private key can theoretically be hacked. However, one key is an encrypted number between 1 and 2256. Therefore, it would take centuries, possibly millennia, to break the encryption with current technology.

4. NFT

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated. Fungible means that you can swap it like for like meaning a dollar for a dollar but this is non-fungible. 

They can represent real-world items like artwork and real estate. "Tokenizing" these real-world tangible assets makes buying, selling and trading them more efficient while reducing the probability of fraud. You can set a royalty fee on your NFT, and if the NFT is sold, you can earn an income forever.

5. DAO

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), is a board of people with a shared interest and vision. A DAO is intended to improve the traditional management structure of many companies. Instead of relying on a single individual or small collection of individuals to guide the direction of the entity, a DAO intends to give every member a voice, vote, and opportunity to propose initiatives. 

All the rules, the structure and the values are written into the code. These are created in the form of a smart contract that sits in the blockchain. It is fully autonomous and transparent: smart contracts lay the foundational rules, execute the agreed upon decisions, and at any point, proposals, voting, and even the very code itself can be publicly audited.

Fashion in the metaverse

Fashion seems to be really leading the way in the metaverse. The big brands in fashion are all trying to create a space and build on their community in the metaverse. The first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week took place in March 2022 featuring luxury brands, household names and digital-native designers. The event took place in the Decentraland, a decentralized virtual social platform on the Ethereum blockchain. 

Metaverse fashion can allow for customisation beyond imagination. With the Meta Avatar Store you get the opportunity to dress your avatar however you want, whenever you want. If one day you want to sport a mohawk the options are there! Not only does this widen your potential we are seeing designer brands like Prada have outfits available to purchase.

It’s not just fun and fashionable!

Fashion is surely one of the leading industries creating a footprint in the metaverse. Gaming is another one that’s always involved when talking about technology evolution. We’ve seen a bit of a glimpse into what the metaverse looks like through video game development. Pokémon Go for example was one that involved augmented reality and now we have hundreds of games in the metaverse.

Technology is advancing so rapidly that other industries are emerging as well. While the full potential of healthcare services in the metaverse is a while away, we are already seeing companies use VR and AR technologies to build their treatment plans. We have Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who are using Oculus VR to train medical professionals in low-risk environments, as well as Liminal VR which have created an entire platform dedicated to well-being virtual reality experiences. The potential social and health benefits within the metaverse are surely one to keep an eye on. 

Physiotherapy practices have also started seeing the benefits of using virtual treatment rooms. Using multisensory cues and rewards, immersive games enable dopamine release and can improve synaptic connections while helping to form new neural networks.

The future will see an amalgamation of VR gaming and fitness with the new trend of fitness gamification. Exercise and meditation will see the development of a new form of immersive experience where it will transport the users into the middle of a virtual gym/workout/meditation session that includes music, visuals, wearables and an instructor coming together on one platform to offer participants an invigorating experience. We are seeing this in action already with the VR BodyCombat classes that Les Mills is currently offering.

Conferences will be held in 3D virtual worlds where you can set your location to be beside a beach, a meeting room, or even on a couch beside your loved ones who are miles apart.

Surgeries and military training will take place in the virtual world saving millions of dollars and improving the muscle memory of participants. Imagination is the only blocker!

The metaverse community

The metaverse is here to stay and evolve, but the foundation of the metaverse and web 3.0 is through building a community. Every industry is now finding new and creative ways to embrace this new world.

To enter the metaverse ecosystem the tech that will pave your way is a virtual reality headset. Meta’s Quest 2 is a virtual headset model that is establishing strong grounds in the market. Microsoft Xbox consoles, HTC Vive and Sony Playstation VR are some more emerging brands.

Are you ready to embrace the metaverse and dive into all this exciting and rapidly advancing digital world has to offer in the way of entertainment, education, fitness, fashion, art, gaming, networking, payments and more? The way we look at it is this new era of digital connectivity is inevitable and offers some incredibly cool tech and we’re totally here for it. Into the metaverse we go!  

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