What does “metaverse” mean?
Author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse” in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” in which he envisioned lifelike avatars who met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments. Since then, various technology advances have made mileposts on the way toward a “real metaverse”, an online virtual world which incorporates augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars, video and other means of communication.
Nowadays, the term “the metaverse” doesn’t really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift in how we interact with technology. On the other hand, it is not a competitor to the internet but rather a virtual universe accessed through the internet. Broadly speaking, it’s a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users, once inside, interact with other people and things as digital avatars in a highly immersive world, buying land, playing games or socializing with users across other online platforms.
Maybe you are thinking right now… “Doesn’t that exist already?”. World of Warcraft is a virtual world where players can buy and sell goods. Fortnite has virtual experiences like concerts. Also, you can strap on Oculus glasses and be in your own personal virtual home… so, what is the difference? Just as Google builds parts of the internet, from physical data centers to security layers, Fortnite creator Epic Games is building parts of the metaverse. And also Microsoft, Meta (formerly Facebook), Nvidia, Unity, Roblox, Snap, and even us with VirtualXpanse. All these companies are working on building the infrastructure that might become the metaverse.