What Comes After The Internet?
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Since Tim Berners-Lee and his CERN buddies invented what came to be known as the World Wide Web, the Internet has made rapid, significant advancement. It’s woven into our everyday lives, not only allowing us to work and play from anywhere we have a connection, but essentially providing access to the sum total of human knowledge right in our pockets. Though the Internet is still young, the tech industry has been looking at what comes next: the Metaverse.
The Metaverse, coined by Neal Stephenson – writer of 1992’s Snow Crash -- is thought of as what will be the convergence point of most media, computing, and communication technologies. Combining the use of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, advanced hardware, and speedy networking capabilities, the Metaverse can affect and change every aspect our of daily lives, from education and entertainment to manufacturing and medicine.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse will put everything the Internet has to offer in a shared 3D virtual space, built on the foundation of virtual and augmented reality, providing a digital infrastructure in which all connected experiences can coexist. Think of how education, business, and leisure all take place on a single virtual reality platform in Ready Player One, but probably with fewer '80s references. The metaverse will allow you to travel the real world from the comfort of your couch or travel the fictional worlds of video games. The technological improvements needed to accomplish all this will be tremendous.
Modern-day technology has only just begun simulating real-life movement in virtual reality with omnidirectional treadmills and controllers that can track individual finger movements, but even if Virtual Reality (VR) technology eventually advances to reliable wireless applications, it still won’t be ideal for venturing out in the world. This is where Augmented Reality comes in.
Augmented reality does just what its name implies, it places a digital overlay on a visual feed of the real world, like how Pokémon Go places digital critters "in" a live feed of whatever your phone's camera is pointed at. Google tried its hand at augmented reality glasses back in 2013 with Google Glass, and though it was released as more of a pilot program and didn't take the world by storm, it appears Google is still working on the product to this day. Apple is also rumored to be developing their own pair of AR glasses.
How to Access the Metaverse
The growth of the Metaverse will not be overnight. You will not "see" the Metaverse, only pieces of it spaced out. These pieces will eventually coalesce as it grows, and and eventually, we'll be living in a shared augmented reality. The Metaverse could take the digital aspects that are already part of our everyday lives, like video conferencing and online shopping, and shift from the 2D presentation of our computer and phone screens to a virtual 3D space.
- Work: More than ever, the working world is relying on video conferencing and collaborative software, but where we now look at our screens from our separate desks, the Metaverse could have us in a virtual space, feeling like we’re working side-by-side.
- Shopping: Rather than just browsing images of products on retail websites, the Metaverse could allow us to walk through virtual stores and try out the products ourselves – a salve for anyone that has been burned by ordering clothes online that end up not fitting.
- Entertainment: Instead of streaming your favorite music, you could attend virtual concerts and feel like you're really there. Instead of hopping on Discord to play games with your friends over the Internet, you could hop into the game itself.
How to Join the Metaverse
There are technologies in play now that can provide insight into how the Metaverse will evolve and grow in the coming years.
- Aside from powerful video game engines that can rapidly process an enormous amount of information and render incredible graphics, the gaming space already has a niche-but-growing catalog of virtual and augmented reality games. There are also already games that act more as social and collaborative hangouts than games with direct objectives.
- Edge computing – a way to improve response times and thus save bandwidth -- and ever-increasing mobile internet speeds work hand-in-hand to process and distribute data faster and more efficiently than ever before.
- As technology advances, so does artificial intelligence.AI is slowly being integrated into the classroom, and there are even instances where AI has been able to improve upon itself - but hopefully that'll end up better than it seems to always end up in sci-fi movies. Some examples of AI are Manufacturing Robots, Self-Driving Cars, Disease Mapping, etc.
Do We Really Need the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is supposed to be a reflection of the physical world rather than a replacement for it, helping make certain parts of life more accessible to those who can't easily access them. From education and work to travel and entertainment, the eventual realization of the Metaverse could improve everyone's lives sometime in the future, that is, unless it goes awry and leads us all to end up plugged into The Matrix.
If you want to get ready for the 3D virtual and augmented reality space that'll eventually be the Metaverse, you'll need a fast, reliable internet connection to take advantage of everything the 2D internet has to offer. You'll find some great options with Optimum.
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