Metaverse, is it now?

It’s often joked that the metaverse will arrive “in two or three years”. This time, however, it’s looking good. We already inhabit a preliminary version of the metaverse, evident in the constant alienation we have with our phones. Why settle for a small rectangular screen when we can have an experience that is much more integrated with reality?

When titans like Meta and Apple start aligning, it’s time to pay attention. Mark Zuckerberg, often criticized as a visionary madman for his high spending on virtual reality, saw his company’s stock plummet last year. Yet today, after staff cuts, efficiency improvements, and a recovery in the advertising sector, Zuckerberg has the green light to invest again, with the stock doubling in value over the past year. Apple, for its part, launched the Vision Quest Pro. Many criticized the launch price of $3500, forgetting to notice the term “Pro”. This device is aimed at early adopters and developers who will develop apps for the mass market from here on out, with a more affordable, non-pro version expected in 2025.

The hardware, which has been a major barrier to adoption due to weight, size, and being unsexy, is starting to evolve considerably. Apple’s device already looks more like ski goggles than a motorcycle helmet like previous models.

Concerns have been raised about the risk of becoming even more isolated as we enter the metaverse. However, if you are reading this article, you are probably part of the privileged 0.1% with access to luxuries like vacations. For the rest of the population, the metaverse can be a desired refuge from a harsh reality, as well as an opportunity for education and growth. Of course, it is not without its problems. If social media is already known for its impacts on mental health, it can further intensify those risks and bring others that we cannot yet predict.

However, it is important to distinguish between virtual reality and augmented reality. While the former immerses us in a completely digital world, the latter overlays our physical reality, augmenting it with digital information or images.

There is a way to go, and it will not happen overnight. In the consumer, entry is usually through pornography and games. Another use is exercise. I currently exercise daily with my virtual reality helmet, where I receive personalized guidance from a trainer. It’s much more fun and convenient than going to the gym. In the business world, the potential is even greater and can justify investments. From education, and repairs (a machine in a factory in Tanzania can be repaired by an inexperienced mechanic with the help of augmented reality), to collaboration between teams (no one has patience for zooming anymore).

If the metaverse still seems like a strange idea, read the book or watch Steven Spielberg’s movie “Ready Player One”. The future we imagine is closer than we think.

David Bernardo
David Bernardo
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