What is the Metaverse and How the Perception Matters?

by Lawrence Jones, PhD

I had the opportunity to virtually attend the third annual Digital Transformation Summit in Laurel,Maryland. The conference touched on 5G, Digital Twins, Cool emerging tech companies, customer experience through inclusive design, and the metaverse. However, the metaverse was a topic that I wanted to know most about. The "metaverse" is a current buzzword gaining more the mainstream dialogue. In many ways, the discussion is very similar to the expansion of the internet in the mid to late 1990s. Marr (April 4, 2022) "we already have virtual reality games Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, and Doom that are part of the metaverse."

But first, it is good to be familiarized with terms such as augmented reality and virtual reality. These two digital components are essential to the metaverse. Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the actual physical world that is achieved by using sound and other digital visual elements. AR is a growing trend among digital tech companies involved in mobile computing. Virtual Reality (VR) is an environment that is artificially generated through a computer that appears to be authentic. This is currently achieved by using a VR headset. In another term, blockchain will be another component necessary for the expansion and use of the metaverse by companies and consumers. Investopedia.(2022), "the innovation with a blockchain guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data and generates trust without the need for a trusted third party."

Getting back to what was shared at the Digital Transformation Summit (2022) Metaverse discussion, it was very insightful as a newcomer to the debate.The metaverse discussion was moderated by Todd Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Mindgrub. The panel consisted of Jesse Alton, Co-Chair, Open Metaverse Interoperability Group (OMI); Will Gee, Chief Executive Officer, BaltiVirtual; Rob Koch, Associate Director of Mobile Engineering, Mindgrub and Rick Williams, Game Development Consultant, Hey ZRO. Rick Williams "I'm a game development consultant, and I've helped with metaverse projects my definition of the metaverse is it's the next evolution of the Internet it's what we will naturally go to there's not going to be a release date the everything is going to steadily evolve and it will turn into a state of seamlessness between the physical and digital world." Jesse Alton, one of the panelists, states that "I define the metaverse as the digital counterpart of the universe so yes it includes the Internet, yes it includes Virtual reality and Augmented Reality and gaming all of it including spatial audio."

In other literature lately, from a health perspective, Marr (April 4, 2022) mentions" the metaverse will provide new and innovative ways to look after our virtual healthcare." He further adds, "virtual reality counseling is already available, and therapists are using virtual reality goggles to provide exposure therapy to patients. Surgeons are also using augmented reality technology to guide certain surgical procedures – and they can train for operations using digital twins." EuroMoney.(2022). "whether you use blockchain or not when you see yourself as part of the metaverse, I think that's the best path forward is actually seeing it manifest. We're starting to realize there's a metaverse" Games like Minecraft is a metaverse or part of the metaverse. Restaurants are already taking advantage of making their presence in the metaverse games. Castrodale, J. (February 11, 2022) the stories about McDonald's recently so McDonald's now has a virtual McDonald's you could go to and depending on where you are in the nation and what your integrations are whether you integrated with Grubhub or DoorDash. You can order and there's an interaction there you order your food and then it physically shows up in the real world using door dash or Grubhub but it's a really nice interface we've probably heard about McDonald's; now they have a virtual McDonald's, and you can take a break.

References:Castrodale, J. (February 11, 2022). Get Ready to Order Your Big Mac from a Virtual McDonald's in the Metaverse. Food and Wine. McDonald's Plans to Open Virtual Restaurants in the Metaverse | Food & Wine (foodandwine.com).

EuroMoney.(2022). What is blockchain? Blockchain Explained: What is blockchain? | Euromoney Learning

Investopedia.(2022). Blockchain Definition: What You Need to Know (investopedia.com)

Investopedia.(2022). https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/augmented-reality.asp

Fantonzzi, J. (February 25, 2022). Why every restaurant operator should care about NFTs and the metaverse right now. Every restaurant operator should care about NFTs and the metaverse (nrn.com)

Marr, B. (April 4, 2022).The Effects Of The Metaverse On Society. The Effects Of The Metaverse On Society (forbes.com)

Maryland Tech Council Third Annual Digital Transformation Summit 2022. https://www.visiontechnologies.com/newsroom/events/digital-transformation-summit

Ratam, R. and Meshi, D. (January 14, 2022). The metaverse is money and crypto is king – why you’ll be on a blockchain when you’re virtual-world hopping. The metaverse is money and crypto is king – why you'll be on a blockchain when you're virtual-world hopping (theconversation.com)

Wells, J. ( January 25, 2022).Metaverse: The End of Travel as We Know It. Metaverse: The End of Travel as We Know It (longitudedesign.com)

Wong, Q. (March 23, 2022). Shopping in the Metaverse Could Be More Fun Than You Think. Shopping in the Metaverse Could Be More Fun Than You Think - CNET.

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