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Metaverse: The Next Big Thing or a Gimmick?

written on 3 November 2021

In this article, I share my view on Metaverse.

At the time of writing this article, there have already been tons of big tech companies announcing to commit themselves into this 'Metaverse' thing. Facebook. Microsoft. Tencent. Baidu. Amazon. If you can name a big tech company, chances are the company has already got into this 'Metaverse', or at least, attempting to do so. Even retail companies like Nike and Alibaba are fighting for their seats in the musical chairs of Metaverse.

Nike filed trademarks to prepare for Metaverse

So, what is the 'Metaverse' actually? Below I quote the definition of the word 'Metaverse' from the Wikipedia:

“The word metaverse is a portmanteau of the prefix "meta" (meaning "beyond") and "universe" and is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. The metaverse in a broader sense may not only refer to virtual worlds but the entire spectrum of augmented reality.”

Yeah, this may look overwhelming. In simpler terms, the metaverse is more like a mixture of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), with the addition of some other elements, such as decentralised financial network and next generation web (Web 3.0).

VR is all about creating a virtual space (typically through a VR headset) and enabling users to fully immerse into the virtual world. On the other hand, AR is more about adding elements into our real life through the help of cameras or screens. Both has their own advantages and drawbacks.

Imagine putting on a VR headset, and you can organise a virtual meeting with your co-workers thousands of kilometres away. With hand gestures and face expressions recognition.

A Youtube video from my favourite channel explaining hand gestures recognition in VR :)

Or projecting of an animal right in front of you(on the screen of course).

Go into Google app on your phone and search for 'tiger'

These are only a tip of the iceberg of what VR and AR can do. They lower the barrier to access education. They allow ideas to be heard and spread like never before. They level the playing field for our next generations. Sounds good huh? Well, inevitably, they can lead to unwanted roads. Escaping from real life. Mass manipulation by conglomerates and monopolies. Weakening real life relationships. Even worse, we may get ourselves into another ‘Matrix’.

However, to think in a positive way, this is the unprecedented moment to educate our next generations, so they can utilise the power of the technology. This is also the moment for us to help our kids develop their human natures, so that they can stay humane and kind, in the time god knows how.

Just like every other inventions, the Metaverse is only a tool, which can be really beneficial if used carefully, and destructive if we abuse it.