The term, metaverse, can trace its roots back 3 decades ago to a sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson called SnowCrash.
Since then, the term has been used loosely to describe the integration between virtual and physical spaces, building on the growing interest in virtual reality (VR) technology.
In its latest iteration, the metaverse now refers to a scaled, virtual fusion of video games, social networking, and entertainment that creates new immersive experiences for users.
In some quarters, the metaverse may be viewed as another hype word for augmented reality (AR) and VR. However, the momentum behind applications seeking to incorporate AR and VR with social media and the cloud is very much real.
Further, several leading tech companies have outlined long-term ambitions and strategies in this space, thus highlighting the potential of the metaverse to attract sufficient investment and innovation to eventually hit the mass market.
Here are 5 of the tech players leading the metaverse push:
Meta (formerly Facebook) is arguably the most vocal proponent of the metaverse. The company has earmarked $10 billion which will be employed to develop the AR/VR headsets and glasses that could provide a dominant access point
to the metaverse.
In 2022, Microsoft announced that it would acquire gaming giant, Activision Blizzard, in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.
The deal plays into a long-term vision for Microsoft as it aims to be a leading player in the metaverse, with gaming a key component of the future virtual experience.
According to Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft:
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
– CEO, Microsoft
Snap, owner of Snapchat, is building custom avatars and AR filters to overlay digital features onto the real world. In 2021, it unveiled the fourth generation of its smart-glasses, known as Spectacles, making them available for developers to experiment with creating experiences.
Nvidia has built its Omniverse platform to be the ‘plumbing’ that can connect rich, shared virtual worlds within the metaverse. It is being used across a growing number of industries for projects such as design collaboration and creating simulations of real-world buildings and factories.
According to the company:
“NVIDIA Omniverse™ is a scalable, multi-GPU real-time reference development platform for 3D simulation and design collaboration, and based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description and NVIDIA RTX™ technology.”
Video game software developer, Unity, is committed to playing a supportive role in the building of the metaverse and to its content creators. Its acquisition of visual effects powerhouse, Weta, is widely viewed as a sign that it is exploring
monetization opportunities in the gaming vertical and beyond.
According to Marc Whitten, Senior Vice President, Unity:
“Our goal is to put these world-class, exclusive VFX tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once connected with the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity.
Whatever the metaverse is or will be, we believe it will be built by content creators, just like you.”
– Senior Vice President, Unity
The metaverse has the potential to be wide-ranging, with applications in interactive and immersive use cases, particularly gaming, live entertainment, construction and manufacturing, retail and medicine.
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