Facebook is on the cusp of creating a “infinite” virtual reality experience
Facebook has announced its plans for a new futuristic platform – which the company will hire 10,000 staff in Europe to work on.
But what is the metaverse and how could it work with modern-day technology?
In essence, this is the internet in 3D.
It will be an online world in which people can meet, play and work virtually via virtual reality headsets.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has described it as being a place where rather than just viewing content “you are in it”.
As an early example, he used the idea of people watching a concert video on their smartphone – but then jumping in it using the metaverse to create the sense they are really there.
Films such as Ready Player One can offer an insight into what the metaverse could look like.
Facebook says that the metaverse won’t be run by one company.
Instead, it would be an open internet in which different companies could build and develop their own experiences to offer to people.
In fact, some of the virtual experiences already exist in some form, but they are not all linked together which is the aim of the metaverse.
Facebook’s metaverse idea would see all the experiences accessible in one place and at any point.
Users would be able to enter it not just via VR headsets, but also PCs, games consoles and mobile devices in much the same way they do now with mobile internet.
What could you actually do in the metaverse?
The idea is that you can effectively do anything such as meet friends and chat around a fire, take a fitness class on top of a mountain, play the latest video game, watch a movie or even take part in deep-sea diving.
Essentially, you would be able to jump into any real-life social experience in virtual reality – holograms or avatars would represent users, their friends and colleagues.
Due to the heavy reliance on video conferencing over the past 18 months, one of the more desirable aspects of the metaverse could be a new type of virtual meeting space.
This would create the illusion of having a meeting “in-person” regardless of where a person is based.
Facebook has even suggested that these spaces could become an “infinite office” where all people feel like they’re working in the same place even if they’re from different cities or countries.
Speaking to The Verge earlier this year, Mr Zuckerberg also suggested meeting in the metaverse could replace some analogue phone calls or video calls.
He said: “In the future, instead of just doing this over a phone call, you’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch, or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it’ll actually feel like we’re in the same place, even if we’re in different states or hundreds of miles apart.”
This could also extend to gaming.
In fact, virtual reality gaming already exists which could be blended into the metaverse.
Therefore, you could play any game on a virtual video wall in front of you, with you friend sat next to you as if they were at home with you.
You could also jump into a more immersive experience and move around a haunted house hunting zombies together.
How long before the metaverse is available?
It will be quite sometime before the metaverse becomes fully experienced.
Facebook has insisted it is only at the “start of the journey” to build the metaverse.
Mr Zuckerberg has spoken about transforming the company into a metaverse-based one in five years.
It’s highly likely this is not just a concept thanks to Facebook planning to hire thousands of new engineers and other staff in Europe.
These new hires will help build the platform and it shows that Facebook is serious about developing this idea.
But for now, the reality of the metaverse is still several years away.