What is the metaverse?
Ah the latest buzzword of the tech world… the metaverse.
It feels like something out of 70s or 80s science fiction; and in many ways it is. But what on earth is the metaverse?
If you’ve asked yourself this recently (and wondered if you’re the only the person on the planet who wonders this)… well don’t worry, you’re not!
So here we look at what the metaverse is, why it’s important and how it all works.
We'll keep it simple
One of the metaverse greats, Facebook, simply describes it as:
“A set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
Confused? Bear with us.
In broad terms, the metaverse is a virtual universe where the user can “live” as a digital avatar in a digital world. We’re not just talking about virtual reality here, or interactive video gaming (although this is certainly part of it). But the metaverse also means people can connect with friends, acquire and sell digital assets, virtually travel to digital locations (which may or may not be based on real life), and more.
The metaverse is an exciting concept that opens up doors many of us couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago. The sky’s the limit.
The technical bit
Getting a bit techie for a moment, the metaverse is basically a virtual world that acts as an extension to our physical world. It consists of a hybrid of technologies including augmented and virtual reality, based on a fictional economy. And yes, digital currencies are the ‘money’ that runs this economy.
The thing to bear in mind is that the metaverse isn’t something physical or definite. It exists in many different forms. So for instance, the metaverse is accessed when someone is playing Fortnite, or Facebook Horizon. It is, however, “interoperable” which means assets can be shifted around between platforms.
As Matthew Ball, managing partner of venture capital firm Epyllion Industries said in February 2021 on his website: "Right now, we are on the cusp of the next internet".
History of the metaverse
The term “metaverse” was first coined by author Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” all the way back in 1992. In it, spoke of realistic avatars who met in various VR environments and alternative realities.
Three decades later, the metaverse has moved from science fiction to science fact. It’s now well on the way to being a ‘real’ metaverse; an online world that combines 3D holographic avatars, high-tech communication, augmented and virtual reality.
Examples of the metaverse
A quick Google search will bring up thousands of results when you hunt for examples of the metaverse in 2022. Here are just some of them:
Ready Player One
The best example of a virtual “metaverse” world can be found in the New York Times bestselling book (now a critically acclaimed film) Ready Player One. Set in 2045, this science fiction novel sets out a real world destroyed by war, poverty and climate change. The people escape this dystopia by taking refuge in a huge multiple online role-playing game (MMORPG) called OASIS.
Facebook’s VR world - Horizon - is set to be the next big thing in the world of the metaverse. Currently in beta it’s expected to be “a social experience where you can explore, play, and create with others in VR.”
A large 3D social network where users can shop, chat and interact with others - and even create virtual products - IMVU current boasts over 7 million users worldwide.
The ambition for Fortnite’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, is to make the platform far more than simply a game. It’s biggest virtual even ever took place in 2020, where 12.3 million people attended a virtual concert within Fortnight by rapper Travis Scott.
Fancy a spot of real estate wheeling and dealing? Somnium Space is a VR platform that allows you to create virtual real estate and trade it. The in-app currency used to do this is called Somnium Cubes.
Built on blockchain architecture, selling VR properties is the main funding for the platform. As well as buying and selling, users can also attend games, events and meet with others.
The metaverse is evolving with new technologies, protocols, innovations and technologies behind it. Don’t expect it to explode onto the scene though like other technologies; it’s instead trickling into the world’s consciousness - and the potential for mankind is enormous.
Is your client’s company working on cutting edge metaverse technology?
This article has touched on the basics of the metaverse and what it is. But there’s a huge amount of information out there, and it’s tech that’s developing fast.
If you’re aware of any clients working in this fascinating field, make sure they know about R&D Tax Credits. Far too many companies still aren’t aware the scheme exists, potentially missing out on thousands of pounds of tax relief and innovation funding.
But claiming R&D Tax Credits on behalf of your clients is far from straightforward. Correctly identifying all the eligible costs whilst constructing a watertight R&D technical report is a niche skill that required professional support.
Partner with the Myriad Associates team
Having worked solely in the field of R&D tax, grants and innovation funding for the last 10 years, our experienced R&D tax specialists work with businesses and accountants across the country. If your client has a claim, we’ll spot it - and will complete everything on their behalf so you can get on with the day job.
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