The Metaverse: Blurring the Lines Between Our Physical and Virtual Worlds
By Markus Levin, Co-Founder of the world’s first geospatial blockchain oracle network backed with cryptography XYO, explores how the metaverse is blurring the lines between our physical and digital worlds, and why it's potential to unleash the next wave of digital disruption is becoming a reality.
There is no avoiding the technology convergence currently underway. Prior to Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, the lines between the physical and digital had been steadily blending, with the goal of converging into a future metaverse of our making.
For technophiles and novices alike, the metaverse serves as a place to immerse yourself in the digital world and build a physical reality while not being constrained to any time or place. In its full version, it becomes the gateway to most digital experiences – ones that can evoke imagery of avatars, virtual worlds and alternative digital realities like those depicted in science-fiction works like Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
Although these worlds are only a concept of imagination for now, companies are pouring billions into developing metaverse technology and infrastructure – $120 billion in the first five months of 2022 alone – and its potential to unleash the next wave of digital disruption is becoming a true reality.
Uniting the Physical and Digital
In working toward a fully engaged, virtual future where data is the most valuable commodity, all things in the physical world will eventually be given a virtual representation in the metaverse that users from around the world can interact with.
From everyday necessities like clothing and food to real estate and cars, the metaverse will amplify our experiences and interactions, while also having a significant impact on how we conduct business. With the introduction of these new applications, customers may be able to try new foods, take part in exciting product launches, create personalized digital avatars with the latest designer wear, integrate brands into online gaming, or create customer loyalty programs through NFT collectibles.
As we begin to align ourselves with this new future, it is important that both developers and brands focus on creating user-driven, captivating experiences that prioritize ownership, creativity, and inclusivity. Not only do these encounters need to feel real, but in order for there to be mass adoption, the metaverse needs to be accessible, affordable, equal, and valuable for everyone.
Some of these tools are already being introduced to users across the world to enhance retail, gaming, and entertainment. Apple has spent years implementing Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by creating filters on social media applications like TikTok and Instagram, most recently announcing their AR Glass that will enter a development stage for release in 2024. In other niche ways, Logitech For Creators hosted the first ever music award show in the Roblox metaverse with performances from artists like GAYLE and Lizzo.
These increasing demands will ensure that virtually every data point in the physical world will need a corresponding data point in the metaverse.
As the ideas for the metaverse become bigger and brighter, so do the requirements necessary to facilitate it. The volumes of data alone needed to materialize a fully immersive digital experience are enormous, and will only continue to grow as more brands plant their stake in the metaverse and more tools and devices are introduced to satisfy consumer appetite for evermore photo-realistic and interactive experiences.
Aligning Our Course to the Metaverse
The more the metaverse grows to reflect the real world, the more critical it will be for people, and especially companies operating within, to have a shared reality.
Creating a virtual world that makes the unreal real is contingent upon the ability to bridge real-world, real-time data and intelligence into the metaverse. While some digital-first brands can apply their existing data and skill sets to the metaverse, using their digital personas and content to connect with users, many others will need to build a data infrastructure from the ground up to create utility in the real world.
Already, we’re beginning to see major companies and brands take steps towards this end of migrating their physical presence into the digital universe.
Earlier this year, McDonald’s filed trademark applications for operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and digital goods, including a home delivery option – a suggestion that the fast food giant may be taking steps to facilitate the ability to order real-world McDonald’s from within the metaverse. Similarly, Nike has indicated its intent to build virtual retail environments to sell its virtual goods, having recently acquired RTFKT (pronounced "artifact"), which creates virtual shoes and collectibles.
Moving forward, more and more companies will begin to follow suit in determining their foray into a future where a fully-immersive virtual world is realized. As they consider their place in the metaverse and the technology to support it progresses over time, our physical reality will undoubtedly converge with the metaverse to create something bigger, better, and more unforgettable than we can imagine.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.