doWhat exactly is the metaverse? doIt’s a digital world 3Dparallel and totally immersive in which we live, play and work? doOr it is a series of interconnected virtual experiences that we seamlessly navigate through with our avatars and wearable digital accessories.? The exact nature of the metaverse is still not entirely clear, nor is its current degree of existence.
What exactly is the metaverse?
Although there is still no exact definition of the metaverse, the presence it will have more and more in all aspects of life is undeniable. In fact, the Gartner company predicts that in 2026 “the 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media, and/or entertainment.”
I believe that the metaverse is not just a destination that we reach through technological devices, but rather a digital identity that we carry through platforms and experiences. It seems that regardless of how we define this concept, the role of digital identity remains a constant in all visions of the metaverse. This digital identity will include the way we present ourselves visually as well as aurally. It will encompass the digital assets we own and the digital spaces in which we are active.
For the metaverse to ultimately succeed, I believe there are three main technological capabilities that need to be present:
- The personalization of the identity or identities of the user.
- The ability to carry identities across platforms.
- Access from the user’s mobile device.
- Crossed Identities, Crossed Platforms
Today, our online personas are often tied to email addresses, user IDs, and profile pictures, and we often use the same username across multiple platforms, even when connecting with a different email.
Let’s move into the future:
Our digital avatars now act as our online identities, and users spend more time in the metaverse for both business and entertainment. It’s natural for users to want to own their personal data and the identities they personalize for the metaverse, which will vary based on their activity. Your persona at your workplace in the metaverse, for example, will likely differ from your identity in a metaverse nightclub, just as it will differ in real life.
Users can choose a visual avatar from one system, a sound identity from another, and an animation from a third, using these custom avatars to connect their real and virtual worlds. As noted by the venture capitalist Rex Woodberry, «In the web3, identity becomes portable and composable… The important thing is that the disparate elements of your identity are merged into one digital location, which you own and control.«.
For the metaverse to really take off, there must be a strategy where individuals can access and create meaningful connections to their digital identities across devices on a day-to-day basis. Developers are working to extend existing virtual and augmented reality experiences by improving headset design VR to make them lighter, more connected and more affordable.
Companies that want to attract more users will have to allow them to carry their digital identity across the metaverse, regardless of entry point or platform; for example, by implementing the universal standard similar to that of virtual studio technology (VST) for audio avatars.
What does this mean for the short and long term view of the metaverse?
Our digital identities must be easily accessible in all facets of our lives. A digital identity that can only be accessed through a virtual reality headset or a desktop computer will only be relevant during the hours that we spend with those devices. In other words, the metaverse has to exist on the move, like us.
Smartphones: The gateway to the metaverse
The metaverse must also be accessible to as many people as possible from the most widely used and easily adopted device. Today, that device is the smartphone. Most activity on the Internet today is done through mobile phones. In many countries, including the United States, if people can afford a single Internet connection device, they choose a smartphone. Taking this into account, it is not surprising that smartphone users around the world can reach the 4,500 million at the end of 2024.
Just as laptops didn’t disappear with the advent of the smartphone, browser-based social metaverse experiences will continue even as augmented reality glasses and headsets become commonplace. While it will take some time for the hardware to catch up with the software, it is an essential step in reaching the majority of potential citizens of the metaverse found in the game world.
When the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadellaannounced in January the pending acquisition of ActivisionBlizzardreinforced the company’s footprint in gaming and its ability to deliver mobile experiences, explaining that the games “will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.»
With an estimated three billion gamers worldwide in 2021Smartphones are the key to powering mobile gaming, which will, in turn, power the metaverse.
The path to an accessible metaverse
Although the technology has not yet reached the vision of the metaverse, companies are making progress. The report enter to the Metaverse of newzoo states that “we are collectively rushing toward greater participation in simulated interconnected environments that are even more limitless than the real thing.”
The companies that succeed in this space will be the ones that engage a larger audience through an immersive, inclusive, and mobile experience. They will help build a metaverse that is widely accessible and allows users to personalize their digital identities, which they can then carry across interconnected virtual worlds, whenever and wherever they are.