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Described by some as the future of the internet, and others as the next major tech platform, the metaverse is taking the world by storm.
Though definitions of the metaverse are still somewhat varied, experts agree this new landscape will help to bridge the gap between our digital and real-world identities. In other words, we’ll be closer to a computer-enhanced world than ever before.
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are now investing in the metaverse, highlighting its position as a critical trend for the future of the online world. Facebook became Meta, Microsoft has increased it’s R&D budget for metaverse-related purchases, and Adobe even updated its Photoshop application to support the creation of Metaverse-ready NFTs.
If you want to keep ahead of the curve, it’s important to understand some of the trends driving and influencing metaverse technology in 2022.
Enhanced Hardware and Spatial Audio
Extended Reality is one of the core technologies in the creation of the metaverse. Though there’s more to the definition of this new environment than XR, extended reality tools can help us to interact with digital communities and environments like never before. In the future metaverse, we’ll be interacting with teams in virtual environments, and using holograms to design new products.
In a space where digital and real-world content is constantly overlapping, we’ll need more in-depth XR experiences. This will require the development of better, more immersive experiences, through higher-quality visuals and incredible spatial audio.
For stepping into digital environments to feel as natural as walking into a room at the office, we’ll need the tools we use to interact online to feel as seamless as possible. Lightweight smart glasses will replace clunky headsets, and hands-free wearables will feel like a natural alternative to the smartphone as hardware continues to evolve.
The metaverse also places additional focus on the concept of a “Virtual self”, or a digital version of our identity, which we can build and cultivate online.
In this environment, hyper-realistic avatars will allow individuals to represent themselves more fully online and connect with others on a deeper level. The promise of digital avatars is already having an impact on countless companies.
We’ve already seen companies like Burberry creating virtual version of stores, and fashion houses selling NFT clothing items people can apply to their avatars in a virtual environment. As we head further into the metaverse, the focus on building hyper-realistic avatars will only continue.
The more realistic these avatars become, the more immersive our communication sessions will become, and the more powerful online events and digital experiences will feel. We may even reach a point where we can almost “teleport” versions of ourselves into other environments using mixed reality, reducing the need for travel.
Motion tracking and cybernetics
A significant part of the metaverse involves making our interactions with machines simpler and more straightforward. Rather than having to input requests into a computer or smartphone, we’ll be able to interact with devices through speech, motion, and even the movement of our eyes. This is something we’re already seeing examples of in the extended reality world.
Gradually, we’re transitioning to an era of looking at computers and digital environments from an outside perspective to a future where we’ll occupy virtual and real spaces at the same time.
To enable this landscape, developers in the XR world will need to create more powerful tracking technology, capable of monitoring every movement or gesture made by a user.
At the same time, the connection between the digital and real world may also include the integration of more feedback from the digital landscapes we interact with.
Haptics, capable of allowing us to “touch” content from a digital space and interact with it in the real world will make our forays into the metaverse feel more memorable, and real.
Low-code Platforms and Development Opportunities
Crucially, the metaverse isn’t just about bringing people together with extended reality, it’s also a concept which relies on the transition to a new kind of internet landscape.
The Metaverse will push us further towards the world of Web3, where creators and developers can regain control over their own content online, and individuals can achieve ownership over their own identities.
For everyone to play a part in forming the new landscape for the metaverse, we need to create an open environment where more people can build and create. Low-code and no-code application platforms are ideal for this purpose.
With more platforms to enable citizen developers in the future metaverse, we’ll have a wider number of people contributing to the new age of the internet.
While there will still be a significant demand for people with the right programming knowledge, Gartner predicts around 50% of large enterprises will be using low-code platforms to build at least part of their infrastructure.
The Rise of Blockchain and Digital Assets
With the arrival of a new open, decentralized internet, comes an increased focused on blockchain, for the management of transparent data. Blockchains allow for convenient, trustless data exchanges, recorded histories, and decentralized authority.
Many experts believe the blockchain will play an important role in the creation of a safe and fair metaverse. The blockchain is also helping to form the creation of a new economy within the metaverse, one defined by creators being able to monetize the things they make and receive adequate compensation for their talents.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, for instance, are an exciting part of the metaverse, which allow people to sell everything from data to services and experiences, in a way that benefits the actual artist or creator behind each asset.
What’s Next for the Metaverse?
The metaverse promises a data-rich future full of concepts like digital twins, the “Internet of Everything” and the rise of artificial intelligence.
Most importantly, it’s leading us towards a future of digital communities and web-based societies, where everyone can have more complete control over their digital identities, lives, and data.