Whether you want to spend time catching up with old friends or do some shopping, the metaverse lets you do it all in virtual space. The technology, a 3D version of the Internet, has already changed the way many people live their lives. But despite the many positives, the technology still has some challenges ahead of it. We may earn commission if you buy through links on our site. Prices are subject to change.
In a 2022 survey conducted by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, 624 tech innovators, business leaders and activists shared their thoughts on the future of the metaverse. Almost half of respondents indicated that the metaverse will be an integral part of daily life for at least a billion people by 2040. The other half said it will not.
The technology has the potential to transform how we work, play and learn. It can connect us to people all over the world, make remote work possible and give us access to new types of entertainment. And with the right software, it can also help address some of our biggest social and environmental challenges.
Metaverse platforms like The Sandbox, Horizon Worlds and Metaspace allow users to create avatars and explore digital worlds that mimic the real world in some ways. These worlds can be used for gaming, but they’re increasingly being applied in areas as diverse as online education and government services. Musicians are using the metaverse to host concerts, and sports franchises like Manchester City are building virtual stadiums to bring fans closer to their games.
Getting in on the metaverse action requires special hardware, usually a virtual reality headset or other immersive device. But some experts argue that the emergence of 5G mobile networks will allow users to access virtual worlds without a headset. And the development of edge computing — which allows data to be captured, stored and processed locally rather than in the cloud — will help solve problems like limited bandwidth and latency.
It’s important to remember that these technologies are experimental and not for everyone. In addition to the physical health risks (like nausea, fatigue and physical injuries), they can also raise mental and emotional stress levels. And some people may find the immersive experience to be too difficult to cope with, leading to disengagement and isolation.
But despite the challenges, these technologies can be powerful tools for businesses, communities and governments. They’re transforming the way we communicate and collaborate, and they’ll continue to change our lives in unforeseen ways over the coming decades. The only question is what kind of metaverse we’ll end up creating. The answer will depend on what we do — and don’t do — now.