According to its etymology, the metaverse is the combination of the terms "meta" (beyond) and "towards" (derived from "universe"), that is, it can be defined as the convergence between the worlds physical and digital.
Technology, innovation and the commitment of large platforms are fundamental in this process. In order to be able to enter this parallel reality, a avatar as a digital representation of the physical user and virtual reality (RV) glasses are required to achieve a more sensory and realistic experience.
Spain is clear on this concept. A study conducted in 29 countries by Ipsos, in collaboration with the World Economic Forumplaces it as the European country most aware of the metaverse – 63% of the population know the term – eleven points above the world average of 52%.
Among the opportunities it generates, the greatest impact in Spain is expected in the field of virtual education and training (63%), followed by entertainment (61%), video games (57%), business meetings (55%) and health-related resources (54%).
However, the report finds Europe being the continent least aware of the opportunities linked to this new ecosystem, which is striking in economic powers like Germany and France, where only 30% and 28% of the population, respectively, understand the implications that the virtual world can generate.
In order to broaden the understanding of a digital environment which, according to expert estimates, will take between 10 and 15 years to impact our daily lives, the European Parliament recently published a report on the opportunities, risks, and policy implications of the metaverse. A reality in which one in four people on the planet will spend one hour of their time per day in 2026, with a global impact of over $1 trillion for that time.
The essential components of the metaverse
To be precise, the European study lists four basic elements understand the origin of this digital experience: the decentralized economy, the expansion of digital social life, the rapid evolution of technology and the massive investments of the main players.
The first of these features is essential, because the metaverse was born as the first decentralized social network based on block chain technology, which makes it possible to create new numerical values.
Above all these assets, NFT (non-fungible tokens) stand out, which, unlike some cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, are not associated with a specific monetary value, but rather are a digital asset whose price fluctuates in the metaverse according to the law of supply and demand. Aside from entertainment, monetization of this immersive space brings endless possibilities for industries and users who wish to diversify their activities in this reality.
From Facebook to Meta
If there is a guru who can give clues about the technological innovations that will shape the future, it is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg. After having changed the way we interact with people with the advent of Facebook, the American entrepreneur has been trying for some time to bring this interaction to other aspects of daily life, such as means of payment or environment in which we operate.
In 2019, Facebook revolutionized the means of payment with the development of "Libra", a virtual currency that shook up monetary regulations and led major banks to consider launching a digital currency as an effective alternative to cash.
Despite the fact that this currency will ultimately never reach the market, Zuckerberg has not given up exploring the technological future with the social network's entry into the metaverse. Thus, "Facebook" has been transformed in 2021 into "Meta», a statement of intent to invite the public to be part of this 3D journey into the future of the Internet.
But the metaverse is a long-term endeavor that needs structure and developing technology. Immersed in this task, the company has invested more than ten billion dollars in metaverse design in 2021 and plans to hire 10,000 professionals in the European Union to make this mega-project a reality.
Possibilities opened by the metaverse
Imagine being the sole owner of an exclusive garment in virtual format; connect to a meeting where the digital world simulates the real work environment; participate in a video game where you can monetize your achievements; or verify a product launch in the digital world before it is transferred to real life?
At the end of the 20th century, such activities seemed pure science fiction, but today they seem to be part of our relationship to the world. It is true that although questions of security, privacy or the very viability of the metaverse to become the successor to the Internet arise these days, many sectors have been interested in the potential for saving time and money from this platform.
Video games: According to the Spanish Association of Video Games (AEVI), the industry achieved a turnover of 1,795 million euros in Spain in 2021. The sector that has explored the most the metaverse experience offers gamers more immersive, interactive and realistic on-screen realities . In addition to the new dimension of entertainment, there is also the concept of game to win, by which the user can make a financial return on his games, based on the blockchain environment and the use of cryptocurrencies.
Created in 2003 by Linden Lab, second life is one of the pioneering virtual games in which the player interacts with his avatars in a 3D environment. And in its virtual storefront, you can also exchange goods and services through a fictional currency created by the game itself - Linden Dollar - which can then be exchanged for real money.
Events: The Covid-19 health crisis has brought the planet to a standstill and forced the implementation of telework, faced with the impossibility of sharing the same face-to-face space in the workplace. While physical meetings have been moved to the computer screen, the Metaverse offers a step up in that experience.
Virtual reality makes it possible to establish professional relationships through virtual environments based on VR technology: congresses, sector fairs, product presentations and training can be organized at the same time from different parts of the world, thus avoiding travel and eliminating geographical barriers.
Art: The art world is also no stranger to the windows opened by the metaverse. Visitors can discover the most representative paintings and sculptures of the major art galleries without having to move thanks to the 3D recreation of these exhibition spaces.
For example, the Valencian start-up E-Heritage Place is working on the virtual recovery of more than thirty marble sculptures affected by the fire that damaged the heritage of the National Museum of Brazil in 2018. Works that will be kept in the digital world after having disappeared physically.
At the same time, the commodification of art has reached the digital world, allowing users to obtain works in digital form. Many of them at the price of gold. Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeplemanaged to sell an NFT - a unique and authentic work - for $69 million at Christie's auction house.
- Fashion: Always in line with the latest trends, the fashion industry's digital podium is already a showcase in which luxury brands can develop their collections without limits. On March 24, 2022, the virtual reality platform Decentralized organized Metaverse Fashion Week, the first fully digital Fashion Week that transforms 2D product images into 3D experiences without losing the glamor that characterizes the sector.
- Performances: Attending a live concert from the comfort of your own home, partying in your favorite stadium or playing your favorite sport with your idol… as many experiences can happen in the future as those that are already happening today. american singer Ariana Grandeor rather his avatar, gave a concert in Fortnite that surprised players of the popular video game.
From dance floor to soccer field: video game developer Virtway will transform the Camp Nou in a virtual event space, complete with replicas of the museum, auditorium, meeting rooms, and a playground-level fairground.
The Metaverse at Telefónica
Exchange the ball for the racket, Telefonica has developed the metaverse of the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, so that the viewer can learn firsthand the secrets of this sports center or imitate the achievements guided by the avatar of the best Spanish tennis player of all time.
A project that, in the words of the digital director of Telefónica, Chema Alonsodemonstrates the company's "strong commitment" to "continue to explore the technological possibilities offered by Web3 and the metaverse".
Indeed, the metaverse itself was the platform chosen for the first time by the company to present the virtual universe of Nadal. The journalists present were able to choose their 3D avatar, discuss with other colleagues from around the world and ask their questions about this universe parallel to reality.
This initiative is in addition to the actions carried out by the carrier in this direction, with the holding of the first metaverse day and seeking new alliances, including working with Qualcomm Technologies to develop Extended Reality (XR) and with Meta and its Meta Quest glasses, to explore networking technologies for the metaverse.
Different strategies with the same objective: to consolidate a position of leadership while waiting for the definitive arrival of the metaverse in our lives.