Metaverse became an internet buzzword since the tech giant Facebook rebranded to Meta in late 2021. Representing features of the real world, it’s like an alternative universe where you can play games, socialize, educate, and work using advanced technologies. Looking for ways to join the digital world? Follow this guide to learn more about entering the metaverse and what resources you need.
The metaverse is a hypothetical future version of the internet, which is more immersive, interactive, and interconnected than the internet today. It is a shared virtual space where users can create, interact, and transact with each other in real-time using advanced technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.
Because the metaverse concept is relatively new and constantly evolving, defining it isn’t easy. However, according to the current state and discussions on the metaverse, these six characteristics define its nature:
Advanced technologies like virtual reality (VR), spatial audio, and AR allow users to experience an interactive environment that responds to their movements and actions. A user feels engaged, present, and connected in virtual environments through customized avatars, sensory stimuli, haptic feedback, and social presence, creating a sense of being in the virtual world.
The virtual world is a continuous and persistent space that is not dependent on any single user or device, making it a seamless, coherent, ever-changing, and adapting universe. Persistence is achieved through cloud computing, blockchain, and decentralized networks. These tools provide storage and ensure the processing and sharing of data across multiple devices and platforms at any time.
Metaverse participants use seamlessly connected virtual worlds and applications, allowing them to interact with each other. Users can also move their avatars, items, and currency between platforms without interruptions. The interoperability of the metaverse is still a topic of discussion as it is still very limited. But the goal is to make the digital world more open and inclusive for users to move freely and bring their digital identity.
Digital content, such as assets and environments, is created by the users rather than the developers. People’s contribution is what makes the metaverse unique. UGC is a powerful tool allowing participants to create and customize their own metaverse and contribute to the overall ecosystem. As the technology behind the virtual environment constantly evolves, user engagement will lead to an even more dynamic metaverse where they can enjoy a wide range of user-generated content.
All of the metaverse participants can interact and communicate with each other in real-time. It is one of the most critical aspects of the digital ecosystem because it lets users connect with people worldwide and make virtual connections. People use different forms of communication in virtual reality, such as voice and text chat, social gatherings, group activities, and collaborative gameplay, creating a sense of belonging and social cohesion.
Participants in the metaverse can contribute to creating a decentralized virtual economy. Cryptocurrency is the main currency here, while blockchain technology ensures secure and seamless transactions. Users can create virtual commerce by buying, selling, trading at the virtual marketplace, donating, or even leaving virtual tips.
The metaverse doesn’t belong to any company, organization, or single user. It is a shared whole, created and customized by the users, enabling greater autonomy and ownership over their digital identities and assets, which are securely stored on the blockchain.
The metaverse is often talked about as a new thing that we will see sometime in the future. This is not true. Virtual reality (VR) environments are already available to a broad audience. And while they are not yet combined into one metaverse, you can have a glimpse of what’s to come. Here are some of the most popular metaverse platforms that already exist:
What you will need to join the metaverse depends on what kind of experience you expect in the virtual world. And while the metaverse is still in its early stages, you can already get a glimpse of what it aspires to become by creating your unique avatar and exploring existing platforms. Here are some of the things you may need when connecting to the metaverse:
Each metaverse platform has different access conditions. Connecting through a smartphone is enough to wander around some of the virtual environments. However, for the full experience, you will need a Windows PC. Most metaverse platforms are resource-intensive, so it is best to choose a powerful computer.
Although you can browse many metaverse platforms from your smartphone or computer, for an even more immersive adventure, you’ll need a VR headset or smart glasses. Major tech companies are developing augmented reality glasses to make the experience more simple and engaging. These goggles will take participants’ experiences to the next level and allow them to interact with the real and virtual world in real-time.
While VR headsets are optional for most platforms, some may only be joined using one. For example, accessing Meta’s Horizon requires the Meta Quest 2, a VR headset that doesn’t need a separate PC or console to operate.
The best way to get to know the metaverse is with a VR headset like Oculus Quest 2, a standalone headset developed by Meta Platforms. It uses inside-out tracking, meaning the headset has built-in sensors to track your movements in a 3D space and includes two hand controllers that allow you to navigate in the virtual environment.
Follow the instructions to join the metaverse with Oculus Quest 2:
The majority of the metaverse platforms are easily accessible without a VR headset. A computer, smartphone, or video game console is enough to wander around the browser-based virtual realities, interact with fellow metaverse participants, and create your virtual world.
Here are some platforms that you can join without a VR headset:
In fact, the only crucial thing for joining the metaverse is a fast and stable internet connection. As the virtual world is still in its infancy and there is no unified metaverse yet, its functions and properties may change over time.
The metaverse also carries potential risks while promising a new frontier of virtual experience and opportunity. The rise of virtual identities makes users vulnerable to personal data breaches and identity theft, especially when participating in the metaverse involves your crypto wallet. Immersion into the virtual world also heightens cybersecurity threats, exposing users to hacking, phishing, and other malicious activities.
Remember – if you use the metaverse, you must follow a cyber hygiene routine to avoid falling victim to malicious actors.
The metaverse also raises social concerns, such as discrimination and inequality, leading to cyberbullying. Children and teenagers are often victims of cyberbullying and they are the majority of the metaverse users. Therefore, it is essential to know and follow the rules of netiquette, creating a safe and inclusive metaverse that benefits everyone.
Protecting yourself in the metaverse requires a combination of caution, awareness, and good security practices. Follow these tips to enjoy a safe and secure metaverse:
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