What are the Main Technological Milestones that Have Prepared Society for the Metaverse?

  • It almost seems that everything is about "meta," these days...

The Metaverse is on the way, and it’s such a big deal that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to rebrand his entire company as Meta in anticipation. There is so much buzz around this concept, which will allow people from all over the world to interact and do various things in a virtual reality setting. The idea hasn’t come out of the blue, though, and there have been a few significant technological breakthroughs that have helped prepare society for this transition.

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a proposed virtual reality setting that is likely to change the way people socialize, interact with entertainment, and host meetings. There will, of course, be numerous other applications that will become apparent once the platform kicks off. When Zuckerberg presented his vision to the world, it became clear that he hopes people will one day be spending most of their time within the Metaverse. Users would have the opportunity to go to work and then socialize within it.

The concept of a metaverse has been around for some time in science fiction, with the most famous example being the Oasis in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. In the famous dystopian novel, most Earthlings spend their waking hours within the VR world, accessing education there and completing various side quests in their free time. Zuckerberg’s company is now aiming to monopolize this idea before other brands get to it. With Facebook already being the leading social media platform, it is best poised to bring this VR world into existence.

Live Streaming was the First Major Breakthrough

If the technology was available and the Metaverse had been touted ten years ago, people may have found it hard to believe that they would want to exist within a virtual reality setting. But there have been a few landmark technological advancements over the last decade that have led up to this, and now make it feel like the logical next step.

Live streaming could be considered the first breakthrough, as this changed the way that people interacted with entertainment online. Instead of it being a one-way street, users were suddenly able to communicate with one another, leading to more immersive experiences. Twitch was one of the early pioneers of this technology, and the game streaming platform blew up between its inception in 2011 and its Amazon buyout for $970 million in 2014.

Some of the leading iGaming sites also jumped on live streaming early, realizing that it was the perfect way to bring online casino table offerings like roulette to people in their homes. Certain sites now have sprawling live casino libraries, where players can feel as though they are sitting at a table in front of a real dealer.

Live streaming became a global phenomenon in 2017, when Facebook integrated it to its platform. This brought it to the attention of people all over the world, and now 82 per cent of users prefer live videos over social media posts.

Conference Apps Have Enhanced Online Socializing

In a lot of cases, live streaming is used for large scale events, allowing multiple people to interact at the same time. In more recent times, people have grown accustomed to using the tech for more intimate purposes too. This has been seen most notably with the rise of Zoom and similar platforms, which are being used for everything from online conference calls to quiz nights with friends.

Zoom Video Communications was founded by Eric Yuan in 2011 and went public in 2019. It was a unicorn company, valued at more than $1 billion in 2017 before it had turned profitable. This highlighted how investors could envisage a bright future for this form of communication. They were right as well, as the company’s usership shot up from 10 million in 2019 to more than 300 million in the early months of 2020. People no longer feel awkward using this form of technology for work and socializing, and it has prepared people for doing the same thing in the Metaverse, without a screen dividing them.

Virtual Reality will be the Final Piece of the Puzzle

For the Metaverse to take off, it will require virtual reality headsets to become essential household items. Currently, the technology is far from mainstream, with only 57.4 million VR users in the USA in 2020. However, analysts expect more people to jump on it over the next few years.

This will be down to advanced devices emerging, and the fact that these will drive the prices down on older models and make them more accessible. Some publications suggest that the combined virtual and augmented reality market could be worth $766 billion by 2025. If this comes to pass, then it is reasonable to assume that the Metaverse will have taken off by then.

The Metaverse is coming, but the concept can only exist thanks to several technological milestones that occurred before it. Society is now conditioned to be accepting of this VR world, but people may have to wait a few more years until VR technology is mainstream.