Entering the metaverse
The Metaverse describes “an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds” as “an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds.” Users traverse the metaverse using their eye movements, feedback controls, or vocal commands, which are accessed through a virtual reality headset. The headset immerses the user, stimulating what is known as “presence,” which is achieved by simulating the physical experience of being present.
We can see the metaverse in action in popular massively multiplayer virtual reality games like Rec Room or Horizon Worlds, where players interact with one another and control their surroundings via avatars.
However, the possibilities go far beyond games. Concerts in the metaverse are being experimented with by musicians and entertainment labels. The sports business follows suit, with prominent clubs such as Manchester City constructing virtual stadiums where fans can watch games and, presumably, buy souvenirs. Online learning and government services are likely to be the metaverse’s most far-reaching applications.
This is how most people imagine the metaverse: a virtual reality-based world separated from our physical one where individuals may mingle and participate in many virtual experiences, all funded by its own digital economy.
A step ahead of that is virtual reality.
However, obstacles remain to be overcome before the metaverse may be widely adopted globally. The “virtual” aspect of this cosmos is a major difficulty.
While virtual reality is an important component in the metaverse’s formula, it is not (and should not be) the only way to enter. In some ways, anyone with a computer or smartphone can access a metaverse experience, such as Second Life’s digital environment. Given VR’s ongoing struggle to achieve traction with consumers, providing broad accessibility is critical to making the metaverse function.
In a short period of time, the virtual reality business has experienced incredible advancements. People interested in home VR had to pick between expensive computer-based systems that required the user to be connected or low-cost but severely constrained smartphone-based headsets just a few years ago.
Inexpensive, ultra-high-quality, portable wireless headsets like Meta’s Quest line, which has swiftly become the industry leader in home VR, are available. The graphics are stunning, the content library is bigger than ever, and the device is less expensive than most gaming consoles. So, why aren’t more people using virtual reality?
On the one hand, global VR headset sales have been increasing, with 2021 proving to be a banner year for headset producers, with the best sales since the flurry of big-brand VR gadget introductions in 2016. However, only about 11 million gadgets were sold globally.
It can be difficult to persuade individuals to utilize their devices, as only about a quarter of those who buy VR headsets use them on a daily basis. As a number of tech critics have pointed out, the long-promised VR popular revolution has mostly failed to materialize.
Virtual movement and physical discomfort in the metaverse
There are various reasons why virtual reality hasn’t taken off, ranging from missed marketing opportunities to manufacturing challenges. However, it’s feasible that VR is intrinsically undesirable to many people, especially when used frequently.
Despite tremendous advances in screen technology, VR makers are still working to combat “cybersickness,” a nausea-like feeling that many users experience when using their devices.
Physical pain in the neck has been identified as a potential obstacle, which may persist as long as VR needs the use of huge headgear. There’s also evidence that the headset’s fit is geared for guys so that women may experience significantly more discomfort.
Beyond the physical difficulties of VR, it’s also isolating: “Once you put on the headset, you’re removed from the world around you,” explains Ramona Pringle, a digital technology professor and researcher.
Some people are drawn to VR for heightened escapism or to digitally communicate with others. However, this isolation from the current world and the unsettling feeling of being separated from others may be a substantial barrier to people willingly using a headset for long periods of time.