The impact of the metaverse on society

Investment bank Jeffries recently said the Metaverse will be the biggest disruption to our way of life the world has ever seen — and financial firms see the Metaverse as a huge potential opportunity.

The Metaverse is an iteration of the internet that offers us a far more immersive experience. Users can enter the internet with an avatar, or the internet can come to you in an augmented reality experience.

You can already see examples of progress toward the Metaverse today. If you Google “dinosaurs” you can see augmented reality versions of your favorite prehistoric creatures right in your room. You can also watch immersive concerts in Fortnight or immerse yourself in the world of avatar-based dating.

In this post I share the potential positive and negative effects of the metaverse on society. Let’s take a deeper dive into how this innovative technology will change our world for the better and some concerns and challenges we need to consider.

Changes to how we play

We already have virtual reality games available in major franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, and Doom. ABBA Voyage is a virtual concert experience featuring digital versions of one of the biggest pop acts on the planet, and DJ Marshmello and Trevor Scott have performed virtual concerts within the Fortnite platform.

We will continue to see entertainment change in the way we play sports and enjoy music. In the future, we will even be able to put on VR glasses that put us right in the middle of the action, whether on the soccer field or on the big stage.

Shopping in the Metaverse

The Metaverse is already changing how we shop. IKEA was a pioneer with its Place app, which uses augmented reality technology to place furniture in our spaces so we can see how things will look in our living or office space.

Companies like L’Oreal and Avon allow you to virtually try on makeup through their app or website so you can choose the perfect shade.

Apple allows you to see their latest gadgets in your room with augmented reality, and Bolle doesn’t just let you see how their sunglasses look on your face — they even use AR and artificial intelligence to show you how the world goes by others will look like lenses! The Metaverse will continue to build on and expand on these immersive retail experiences.

Transformation of education and training

In the future, we will see the Metaverse provide immersive, engaging learning opportunities in many different settings, including formal organizations and schools, lifelong learning, corporate training, and personal improvement.

Children can already take lessons by transporting themselves to different places and times using immersive VR and AR technology. We’ve already seen this in Poland, where teachers are using the VR game Half-Life: Alyx for science classes. Companies like Skanska are also conducting their health and safety training using virtual reality.

Virtual helpers in healthcare

The metaverse will offer new and innovative ways to take care of our health. Virtual reality counseling is already available, and therapists are using VR goggles to offer patients exposure therapy so they can experience the situations that frighten them in a safe, controlled environment.

Surgeons are also using augmented reality technology to guide specific surgical procedures – and they can train operations with digital twins.

We have tons of VR and AR wellness apps at our disposal at home – you can even do guided yoga with augmented reality!

Metaverse Travel Tech

Hotels are already using VR as a marketing tool, creating immersive experiences that attract new visitors. As consumers, we can take VR field trips around the world, to places like Zion National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Rome or Dubai. In the metaverse, we can go practically anywhere in the world just by putting on a headset.

When we physically travel to a destination, we also have access to guided augmented reality tours that enhance our travel experiences and help us learn more about our surroundings.

Creating new things in the metaverse

The Metaverse will also change the way we create new things. Engineers, entrepreneurs, and developers are already using digital twins—virtual replicas of objects—to simulate how things will look in the real world.

Formula 1 uses digital twins to build new racing cars and try them out on virtual tracks. NVIDIA now offers an omniverse where you can create the complete architecture of a building in a virtual world, then put on your VR goggles and walk through that building at different times and in different situations. You can even see what the building will look like at sunset or when it’s full of people.

These types of co-creation tools will be even more common in the Metaverse.

The Challenges of the Metaverse

The metaverse also has a downside, and we must consider these challenges as we move into a more immersive virtual world.

These challenges include things like:

1. Privacy – The Metaverse will potentially collect a lot of personal data about each user, including eye contact, physical reactions, and haptics. How can we protect this data?

2. Protection for children – How can we monitor what they do and see as children delve into the metaverse so we can protect them?

3. Health Concerns – VR hangovers, post-VR sadness and cyber addiction are real – how can we tackle the health challenges of an immersive world?

4. Inequality of access – How can we ensure that humans have equal access to the technology required to enter the metaverse, including handsets, headsets, and connectivity?

5. Legal Issues – We need to sort out the regulatory gray issues of the metaverse. For example, when is a virtual act a crime?

6. Desensitization – How can we ensure that people do not become desensitized to violence, racism and misogyny as people increasingly enter lifelike virtual worlds?

7. Identity Hacking – We will all use virtual avatars to navigate the metaverse, so protecting our identities will be vital. How can we verify that users in the virtual world are who they say they are?

To keep up to date with the latest Metaverse news, subscribe to my newsletter and check out my book. Extended reality in practice: Over 100 amazing ways in which virtual, augmented and mixed reality are changing the economy and society.

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