September 21, 2023

The metaverse is a virtual world that offers a unique mix of games, education and business applications. It also presents new risks and challenges. If you want to avoid being left behind, your organization needs to develop a strategy for using this technology.

If you think about it, the metaverse is a natural extension of today’s Internet. Instead of connecting to Wi-Fi or 4G on your smartphone, you would log on to the metaverse using a virtual reality headset like Google Cardboard or a more immersive model such as the Oculus Quest 2. Inside the metaverse, you could use your headset to control a digital character called an avatar, visit a social network or participate in a virtual game.

Tech companies are pouring billions into creating the metaverse, with major players including Facebook, Google and Amazon releasing products such as the Oculus Quest 2, Sandbox and Horizon. The metaverse could eventually replace online gaming and social media as people’s primary digital activities, transforming our daily lives and society.

Aside from gaming, a few companies have already begun using the metaverse to develop augmented and virtual reality products for work and life. For instance, the software platform Second Life enables people to create and interact with avatars in a three-dimensional world where they can buy or build real estate, play video games and meet with friends.

Another company, Nike, is preparing to launch its own virtual shoe store in the metaverse. In 2021, the company filed trademark applications for its popular slogans and logos and partnered with Roblox to create a metaverse version of its Nikeland digital world, where users can connect with other Nike fans and dress their avatars in virtual footwear and apparel.

In the metaverse, you’ll probably buy and sell your virtual shoes or other assets by trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These are a type of secure digital asset based on the same blockchain technology used to power cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. NFTs can represent anything from a piece of virtual art to concert tickets or even digital real estate.

Companies are also developing augmented and virtual reality tools to enable employees to do their jobs better in the metaverse. For example, they may simulate a factory, warehouse or construction site so that employees can learn how to operate equipment or practice giving a sales pitch to a potential client.

A key challenge is that a metaverse requires advanced hardware, so the technology is not yet widely available or affordable. But constant improvements in computing power are making it possible to design and host larger, more realistic virtual worlds. And as 5G networks become more widespread, people will be able to access the metaverse on mobile devices such as phones or tablets. Also, haptic sensors are being developed to allow people to feel objects and other avatars. This will improve the overall experience. And smaller processors can be built into eyeglasses and VR headsets. The ultimate goal is to make the metaverse as accessible and user-friendly as the Internet.

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