METAVERSE: THE BIGGEST TREND FOR 2022

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METAVERSE: THE BIGGEST TREND FOR 2022

Sunday, 09 January 2022 | Gaurav Gupta

METAVERSE: THE BIGGEST TREND FOR 2022

You can’t escape the world’s growing fascination with the virtual world and all that it brings. Metaverse is set to be the hottest trend for 2022, and it will change how we interact with the world forever, writes Gaurav Gupta

2021 was a tough year as the world bore the brunt of a raging virus, collapsing economies, job losses, political uncertainties and mental health. Everyone billed 2021 to be the year of resurgence after an unexpectedly devastating 2020, but in an anti-climax, this year left humanity reeling as new covid variants took us further away from life as we knew it.

Yet, the resilience of the human spirit stands tall, and if history is something to go by, it is tough times like these that forefront innovation and usher in new ideas. Our lives over the last two years have been reshaped with technology to adapt to the new normal, replacing almost every aspect of our real life experiences — whether it’s education, offices, or social interactions. We are seeing newer ideas emerge everyday that help people communicate, collaborate and earn without needing to leave their physical space.

As the importance of “where” fades in our lives and livelihood, humanity is having its first brush with globalisation in the true sense. Digital technology allows us to be present in shared virtual spaces, sharing the same experience as someone across the globe from us, and being counted for who we are, rather than where. You didn’t know it, but you are already experiencing life in the Metaverse.

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?

The metaverse is the next iteration of the internet where users will be able to build virtual lives, cohabitate, share spaces, transact and collaborate in new ways. The term “Metaverse” was coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson for his science fiction novel, Snow Crash. He used the combination of Meta and Universe to talk about life-like avatars meeting in virtual reality. Today, that vision comes to life as users can enter the metaverse to share an immersive experience, facilitated by augmented and virtual reality.

The Metaverse has not sprung upon us in a day. It is a natural evolution of our digital and social media interactions. People today spend hours curating a picture for their profile picture, let their food go cold for the perfect Instagram story, and strive to create a happy, successful social media image irrespective of how their day went. The importance given to our digital lives has grown rapidly over the past decade, and now we move from 2D apps to 3D environments to build on our virtual personas.

Imagine a day in life of a 20-something today. They start their morning by grabbing their phone, scrolling through social media, texting friends, getting ready for their office zoom calls, ordering lunch from an app, working out to a Youtube video, and streaming Netflix at night. There is an app on their phone for everything — from banking to grocery shopping, and even one for reminding them to drink water.

The Metaverse strives to improve this experience — The same person can wake up to attend a Yoga class with his friends who gather in the virtual gardens. He can attend a virtual office with higher employee interaction. He can order his meal from his favorite restaurant in the foodverse, and enjoy it with a friend. He can head to the virtual theatre and watch a movie with his girlfriend. It’s the same activities that form his daily routine today, but enhanced by the power of the third dimension.

TECH-TOGETHER

This experience of course will not be possible without interactive technologies and tools. While Metaverses will rely on graphics to create an immersive environment, the virtual world will be ably supported by Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for an overall experience.

Over the past few years, technological developments in VR and AR have made them less futuristic and more of a reality. But with limited use-cases until now, we could not bring mainstream adoption to live up to the potential of the technology. The Metaverse changes that. For the first time, metaverses can usher in mass adoption for VR headsets, AR extensions and gadgets, and tie them together to enhance the virtual experience.

THE METAVERSE WILL BE EVERYWHERE

Contrary to naysayers, the Metaverse will completely blow up in 2022 and become completely mainstream by the middle of the year. With big giants like Facebook and Microsoft setting sights on virtual world dominance, you will be hearing a lot more about metaverse happenings in 2022. The world is now intently watching the dance-off between traditional tech giants and crypto-native projects like The Sandbox and Decentraland for metaverse supremacy.

As we go along the year, metaverse projects are set to move from their early-adopter phase to mass adoption as millions of people will start engaging and investing in these models. Founders will work on creating value in their projects, building communities and we will see not one winner, but many successful decentralised spaces. We will see general metaverses like The Sandbox which will be built out like virtual cities, as well as themed metaverses like OneRare, which is focused on celebrating Food from across the globe.

THE GREAT MENTAL RESET

The Metaverse forces all of us to reset our minds. Since our birth, our lives and life choices are determined by our geographical location. From our school to our friends, our brains process the gamut of opportunities in our lives based on where we are.

The Metaverse forces us to look beyond our physical presence, and open our minds to the equal opportunities of a virtual world. A person in Kenya can now explore the virtual world on equal footing as the person living in Australia. Life opportunities in the metaverse are equal for all individuals — from education to recreation.

The ability to attend classes in metaverse universities will change the face of education forever. Students will be able to study the subjects of their choice, at their own pace and break away from traditional syllabus models to explore their strengths. They can study in any part of the world and interact with global student communities, with no financial burden of visas and foreign education.

Hiring across all industries will also experience a dramatic shift as virtual offices eliminate the need for employees to be present in the same city as the company. Companies will now gun for top talent across the world rather than be restricted by geographical barriers. The Metaverse is in reality, the first time we are a truly globalised world.

DISRUPTING TRADITIONAL INDUSTRIES

With the advent of the Metaverse, we will also see a radical shift in traditional industry thinking in 2022. Despite the wariness to embrace new technologies, many industries will realise the critical advantages blockchain brings to the table, and embrace the metaverse.

The transparency of blockchain transactions and ability to maintain eternal records is a great asset for the Real Estate industry. The piles of documentation, transactions and meetings that come with every sale can be streamlined into a virtual city where marked plots hold all records for the land and transactions are recorded onto the blockchain.

The 9-to-5 Office Model underwent a dramatic transformation as Covid-19 sent everyone home. While employees adapted well to the Zoom & Trello model, there is fatigue setting in after almost 2 years of Work-from-Home. While some companies have enjoyed the financial benefit of cancelling office rental leases, they also realise the lack of team spirit and social connections between employees. Virtual Offices will look to re-energise employees by giving them enhanced social experiences at work, attending meetings in 3D avatars and co-working in an immersive office setting.

Working with the Food Industry ourselves, we see a massive opportunity for Chefs and Restaurants to move beyond their local monetisation models and interact with global audiences for the first time. In OneRare’s Foodverse, food professionals are not restricted to their region. They can monetise their dishes as NFTs, host interactive cooking classes, launch new global menus, and allow users to swap NFTs for real meals at their restaurants. From table reservations to virtual restaurants, there is so much to explore.

BRANDS IN THE METAVERSE

A decade ago, social media platforms started creeping into our lives and no one noticed. It was considered a fad, a whimsy of the young and restless. But it wasn’t a fad. Early movers in the space were able to create multi-million dollar businesses on the basis of their social presence. Individuals became brands in their own right, and in the past few years, traditional advertising has been steadily replaced by influencer marketing.

Nowadays, many brands run entire operations via their social profiles without the need for a physical location or a website. Even the ones who begrudged the toxicity of social media had to accept its overarching ability to reach their audience. The Metaverse is the next iteration of social media for brands, and this time, companies and marketers are on high alert.

With more companies realising the power of community, brands are making a beeline for curating the ultimate metaverse experience for their consumers in 2022. Brands are already working hard to leverage social media to make users feel more connected and part of the creative process, and the 3D immersive model will allow them to take this a step further.

THE METAVERSE IN 2022

Everyone in blockchain wants to be early to the party, be ahead of the curve. With the first of the Metaverses coming out, expect a lot of noise in 2022. The believers, the investors, the users, the gamers — everyone has a reason to be excited about the Metaverse and its endless possibilities.

While Metaverse developments are in early stages, we will begin to see the impact of the one-world concept in 2022. Virtual lands will be treated with the same care as real land with NFT Art adorning virtual homes. Users will design their virtual personas with the same passion as their social media profiles. People will begin to explore the true meaning of a life without geographical barriers.

Life in the Metaverse will be a long journey, and while we may not know where it leads, one thing is certain. The Metaverse is here to stay, and 2022 will be a defining moment for the rest of time.

The writer is Co-Founder, OneRare, the first-ever metaverse for food, gaming, and NFTs on the blockchain ecosystem

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