When I was at The Economist Metaverse Summit, the question everyone had was, what is the metaverse?
The following week I volunteered at my university’s Majors Fair for undecided students. I handed out pamphlets for computer science (even though my major was Management Information Systems – hey, how often do you get to talk about your major?).
I introduced myself to the computer science and cybersecurity professors. As I told them about the metaverse studio, I work at, I saw their eyes glaze over.
Shouldn’t they be excited about the metaverse? Shouldn’t the cybersecurity professor be inspired by biometrically inferred data, tracker and overlay attacks? I thought the computer science professor would be excited by the new jobs and developer tools needed to build the metaverse.
Instead they made jokes about Meta. I turned my attention to the students, many of whom are probably use elements of the metaverse today.
You and the metaverse today
The truth is, emerging technology, fiber internet and next gen networks, AI, and all the things talked about in The Augmented Workforce are creating metaverse, whether you joke about VR or not.
(FYI, VR ≠ metaverse)
You use a Bitmoji 😏
And dress them to match your mood or style. You dress them in name-brand clothes like Nike, Vans, or Ralph Lauren. Congrats, you have an avatar – the identity pillar of the metaverse!
You buy Robux for your kids 💳
And they use it to purchase virtual, in-game clothes.
According to the Roblox Metaverse Fashion Trends Report, half of survey respondents say they change their avatar’s clothes at least every week. And for 2 in 5, self-expression via digital clothes and accessories is more important to them than expressing themselves in real life.
Survey respondents aren’t just changing their avatar’s clothes with free mods. They’re paying fiat money. From the report:
- 31% spend up to $5 monthly
- 30% spend $1-$20 each month
- 12% spend $50-$100 each month
- 27% of players spent $20-$100 on a single virtual item
- 1 in 4 say they own over 50 items their avatar can wear
You wear a smart watch ⌚
Your smart watch may be what connects you to the metaverse. That’s what Teddy Pahagbia (aka Mr. Metaverse), philosophised at the Metaverse Summit that through our smart watches or biometric devices, we can upload our heartbeats to the metaverse to become homoversians.
This idea isn’t new. In 2016 Jerry Hudson and John Rich from Moxie spoke about how they incorporated heart rate tracking from an Apple watch with a VR game that threw objects at you. As your heart rate went up, the game would throw objects at you faster.
Smart watches, Airpods and Galaxy buds, Airtags, and devices that create one ecosystem out of many parts, is another way you’re already using the metaverse today.
You talk to Alexa, Siri, and Google 🗣️
One thing we don’t talk about enough is artificial intelligence’s role in the metaverse. AI is already embedded in so many parts of our lives, you probably don’t even realize it. And that’s what makes it metaverse. If you talk to a smart speaker, Alexa, Siri, or Google you’re living in a sci-fi reality.
These devices do more than play music or tell you the weather. They’re programmed to listen to how you sound, what’s happening in the background of your life, and the people around you to try and predict what you need next.
Brandan Kaplan, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder of Journey, wrote on LinkedIn, “Collaboration in conversational ai is the next evolution for a smart voice ecosystem.”
Voice is part of physical and virtual spaces. It’s the ultimate blending of real and digital worlds, AI, and each other.
You use Snapchat filters and lenses 🕶️
The metaverse is the physical and digital coming together through connected and emerging technology.
Wow. That was a mouthful.
I talk a lot about how augmented reality is more than what we see through our phones. But that doesn’t mean AR isn’t an important part of a metaverse experience. Snapchat filter and lenses are fun! But they’re also a way to interact with the world. AR try-ons, learning, games… if you’ve tried any one of these, you’ve experienced part of the metaverse.
What metaverse trend will you try next?
Have I convinced you of the metaverse yet?
If you’re waiting for it to one day appear like at an Apple launch party, you’ll be waiting a long time. The metaverse is already happening. In bits and pieces, Web3, emerging tech, new hardware will come into our lives. We’ll use it without thinking about it. And that’s when the metaverse will have arrived.
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