How the Metaverse is transforming reality

The Metaverse could be many things. Is it a workspace to dream up big ideas with colleagues scattered around the country? Or is it a social hub to play cards with friends sitting on the other side of the world?

In the next 5 years, we’ll find out. But first, let’s start with the basics. The Metaverse is essentially a virtual world, or collection of virtual worlds, where people can interact with digital objects and each other. Think of it like a multiplayer online game, but instead of playing a character, you exist within the game world as yourself.

It’s worth noting that the concept is nothing new. We've been dreaming of virtual worlds for decades, from the earliest text-based MUDs (multi-user dungeons) to the more recent Second Life. And yet, despite the buzz, these virtual worlds have never quite taken off in the way that many predicted.

This time, though, there’s a difference: in the Metaverse, we can interact with real people. Real brands. Real services. We can work, play and shop in ways we’d never imagined.

Meeting people from around the globe in real-time, regardless of location, enables people to come together on projects, attend virtual events, and feel more present at business meetings than is possible with Zoom or MS Teams. All from the comfort of your own home - or, indeed, from anywhere else.

And that shared sense of presence isn’t confined to work. The metaverse will also enable people to form new communities based on shared interests, in ways that only a few years ago were impossible.

Let's say you're a fan of a certain band. In the past, your options were limited to buying albums, going to concerts, and perhaps talking to a few other fans online. But in the metaverse, you can attend virtual concerts, meet others like you, and even create your own virtual band with them. The possibilities are endless.

Or maybe you're a gamer. In the metaverse, you can play games with people from all over the world, and even create your own virtual worlds to share with others. You can also join communities of people who share your passion for gaming, and engage with them in ways that are just not possible in the physical world. 

There’s more. The metaverse could make a profound impact on the way we shop; retailers will be able to create virtual stores that feel like the real thing. That allows retailers to personalize customer experiences, tailoring products and services they offer to each individual customer. 

But how does it work? The US author, entrepreneur and game tech expert Jon Radoff devised a model to understand the fundamental components of the Metaverse. He suggests the technology has 7 ‘layers’:

  • Experience. Users interact with objects and people as though they were the real thing.
  • Discovery. Users are exposed to new information, both ‘inbound’ (like marketing communications) and ‘outbound’ (like actively searching for new things).
  • Creator economy. No-code and lo-code programming interfaces make it easier for anyone to create tools, apps or assets in the Metaverse, regardless of coding ability.
  • Spatial computing. 3D environments blend elements of both the real and virtual worlds, creating user experiences that feel like real life.
  • Decentralization. The Metaverse isn’t controlled by a single entity, meaning decisions are made by large groups of users rather than, for example, a company.
  • Human interface. Metaverse technologies can integrate with the wearables of the future, like smart glasses or contact lenses.
  • Infrastructure. A wide array of digital infrastructure powers the Metaverse, including AI, blockchains, network and computational power.

The numbers are growing. As of 2023, an estimated 400 million people have visited the Metaverse. Many of them are the consumers of tomorrow; 51% of Metaverse users are aged 13 or younger, often found in the hugely popular virtual game world Roblox. As a result, in 2024 global spending on AR/VR experiences is forecasted to reach $72.8 billion.

And some of the world’s most prestigious brands are among the big spenders. Nike and Gucci have both created their own virtual worlds in the metaverse, blending sales, marketing and gaming experiences.

One thing’s for sure, then: forward-thinking enterprises need to keep a watchful eye on what comes next. The Metaverse is revolutionizing the way we interact with the world around us - and creating major new revenue streams for technology innovators to tap into. Those brands that move fastest to engage consumers and business users in the virtual world will come out on top.

SBM can help you build the tech stack to future-proof your business. Get in touch to find out more.