Part 1 - Metaverse?

Part 1 - Metaverse?

02 Mar 2022

WIDE Services

News & updates from WIDE Services

View Profile

This informal CPD article is Part I of the “Metaverse” provided by Vasilis Palilis director of WIDE Training Academy of the WIDE Services company.

In this article we explore what Metaverse is.

The article comprises 2 parts.

1. In the first part, "Metaverse?", we discuss what the Metaverse is.

2. In the second part, "Education in Metaverse", we explore existing (and future) applications of Metaverse in education.

Let’s embark upon the 1st part.

What is the Metaverse?

It is likely that you have recently become aware of the term Metaverse in light of Facebook's renaming to Meta on 28 Oct 2021 and the company's reorientation to "bring the Metaverse to life", where, "3D spaces in the Metaverse will let you socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine." Of course, it is not only Facebook that is moving in this direction, for example Microsoft Teams users will soon be able to meet in the "Metaverse", Cisco has also launched a pilot program for Webex Hologram, an augmented reality meeting space, and many other companies are following.

It's hard to give a definition for something that is currently under development. We can only talk about the building blocks, the structural technologies on the convergence of which will be based the evolution of the Internet from the present to a vaguely idea that we have in mind and call it Metaverse.

For the record, the term first appeared in a science fiction novel named Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson in 1992. In this novel, the characters are not human, the protagonists are avatars - three-dimensional designs that move and create relationships in a three-dimensional virtual space. The term avatar comes from the Hindu deity who had the ability to take a human form. William Gibson's "The Neuromancer" - the inspiration for the film "The Matrix" - is also a very good and probably more famous example.

Since then, the term Metaverse has been used for various cyberspaces, various imaginary spaces that have been developed in the global digital universe. In other words, three-dimensional environments in which users can either develop replicas of their real world, or create their own imaginary spaces in which their avatars operate and live.

Metaverse Gaming

Virtual worlds already exist and typical examples are digital games. The role of games will be critical for metaverse. This is not only because they are pioneering in the creation of 3D environments, but also because they now offer services and capabilities that cross over to other aspects of our lives, such as income generation (Axie Infinity), governance of the game platform (Decentraland), learning and business environments (Second Life).

Inextricably linked to the development of such worlds are virtual and augmented reality technologies. The term in its technological dimension was introduced by Jaron Lanier, who defined virtual reality as an environment that is interactive, developed within a computer and that we can immerse ourselves in. It is not just images or videos that we see on the computer, but we experience these spaces, we can hear the sounds that exist, with devices we wear, we can feel the temperature and, with the help of sensors, we can even smell. 

For example, BMW has created a digital replica of its real factory in Regensburg, Germany, in which employees can explore on a real scale through their avatars all the functions of a model from the engine to the seats!

Metaverse and Blockchain technology

It would be desirable for the developments in Metaverse to go hand in hand with the planned transformation of the existing WEB2, controlled by technological giants, to the decentralized WEB3 where users will have total control over their personal data. And this is where Blockchain technology comes in.

  • This technology is defined by collaborative and open source code that transforms the concepts of accessibility, justice and community governance into real web services and protocols.
  • If the Metaverse becomes such a big part of our lives, the Open/Public Blockchain will enable us to play a role in decision making.
  • If, in the future, we work and even buy virtual items on the Metaverse (already big clothing companies are preparing collections for avatars!), we need a secure way to prove ownership and feel safe moving those items and money from place to place on the Metaverse. Again Blockchain technology allows to define ownership issues in virtual spaces and methods of transaction - exchange of objects.

Will things evolve in this way or will prevail the existing or nascent tech giants with their private Blockchain and the already known implications? It's just a rhetorical question, everyone is thinking their own answer at the moment...

Another step towards the prevalence of Metaverse is the integration of all existing and new systems in order for the user to be able to navigate from one place to another (as today you can go from one site to another) and communicate (as today using email) without the use of separate usernames and passwords.

If these things happen, then you will be able to do in the Metaverse what you do in your real life (work, education, entertainment, business, relationships). Think this as an extension of the work-from-home experience that COVID-19 brought, but now in a 3D virtual space. Remote meetings won't be just a panel of speakers; you'll be able to share a virtual space with a group of avatars. This way interactions will feel real and will be much more similar to physical interactions.

If/when all this is implemented, we will have a new world. Some advantages will be that new tools will be created that they may be used in the real world (medicine, learning environments). As for disadvantages, there are already documented problems that arise from gaming and immersion, including cost, security and inclusivity concerns. Will it be a bright new world or a dystopia? Another rhetorical question to close.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from WIDE Services, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

WIDE Services

WIDE Services

For more information from WIDE Services, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Want to learn more?

View Profile

Get industry-related content straight to your inbox

By signing up to our site you are agreeing to our privacy policy