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We examine the driving forces bringing the Metaverse to the fore, and unpack who will be the frontrunners in turning the Metaverse into a reality

  • The Metaverse is an environment where our real and digital lives meet
  • Advertising, retailing, and remote work will never be the same again
  • Big Tech and gaming companies are the frontrunners
  • Early drivers of the Metaverse include social media, remote work, and video gaming
  • Blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies and NFTs will be paramount
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The Metaverse: From fiction to fact. First coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, the term “Metaverse” is a portmanteau of “meta” – which comes from ancient Greek meaning “beyond” and “verse” – an abbreviation of “universe”. Converging physical, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality, the Metaverse is where real life meets digital life, a world where the “digital twins” of yourself, your friends, and your home will co-exist in a parallel universe. In short, the core characteristics of the Metaverse are:

  • “Live” and continuous, with events happening 24/7
  • Provides an experience that spans across the real and virtual world
  • Possesses its own fully functioning economy
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Back in the 80s, the world had already seen early iterations of the Metaverse through VPL Research (a company founded by computer scientist Jaron Lanier in 1984) which created the DataSuit – a fullbody sensory outfit that provided intuitive feedback to the user. In 1993, SEGA (a major gaming company) introduced a prototype VR (virtual reality) glasses at the Summer International Consumer Electrics Show. These developments planted the seeds for future development in VR.

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What started out as a novel idea from science fiction is fast becoming a reality today. The onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in social distancing have driven more and more activities online – from work to education to basic social interactions. Shared human experiences in a digital environment will be the new normal and this is already happening in the gaming space (think Fortnite, Animal Crossing, and Roblox). A new digital society is on the way, bringing a paradigm shift to global civilisation.

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