Key Technologies for the Developing Metaverse
The future is virtual thanks to advances in the Metaverse, a virtual world where individuals can gather, work, and play. The Metaverse is experiencing explosive growth, and companies are strategizing on existing and thriving in this new frontier. Meta (previously known as Facebook) believes it is the “next evolution of social connection.” Behind this evolution are the key technologies defining software development that dictate how we spend, connect, and experience life in the Metaverse.
Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, & NFTs
If you’ve heard the terms Bitcoin, crypto, and NFT but still feel out of the loop, you’re not alone. Bitcoin is the best-known example of crypto (in fact, it’s why blockchain tech was created in the first place). Enabled by blockchain, the Metaverse will support an economy of crypto and NFT assets that users own. That’s why this interrelated “fintech” will not only develop but be a key driver in the Metaverse.
Let’s start unpacking all this with a look at blockchain. Blockchain can be likened to a virtual banking system. It’s a digital ledger of transactions replicated and distributed across a network of systems on a virtual chain that is (appropriately) virtually impossible to hack.
Blockchain-based Metaverse environments offer digital proof of ownership for assets. In other words, blockchain enables an economy in the Metaverse.
Financial technology experts believe cryptocurrency (crypto) is exceptionally safe, private, quickly transferable, and inflation proof. That’s because crypto is created and stored electronically in the blockchain, using encryption methods to control the establishment of monetary units and to authenticate the transfer of funds.
In the Metaverse, crypto is comparable to the money in your wallet. Unlike a physical wallet, a private key for your crypto wallet proves your ownership of the funds. If you want to buy something in the Metaverse economy with money in that wallet, crypto will serve as the currency of exchange.
NFT means “non-fungible token”—a digital asset representing a real-world object like artwork or music. NFTs are typically encoded with the same underlying software as crypto to prove ownership in the Metaverse.
The key difference between NFT and crypto is that NFTs are unique and irreplaceable. Crypto is fungible (a dollar is worth the same as any other dollar, and can be swapped with any other dollar). Nonfungible is the opposite—there are no two same versions of the Mona Lisa.
In the Metaverse, users can purchase NFTs for the purposes of not only art but other unique assets like virtual real estate and event tickets.
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, & Mixed Reality
Augmented reality, or AR, is an enriched form of physical reality. AR is achieved by embedding virtual objects or digital elements, including sound, visuals, and other sensory stimuli, into the real physical world. Virtual reality (VR) creates a simulated environment that enables users to interact with an artificial three-dimensional (3-D) environment through computer modeling and simulation. With VR, you disappear into a created space. With MR, the space is designed around you.
There’s an argument that you can have AR or VR—not both. That’s where mixed reality (MR) comes into play. Mixed reality is a cutting-edge form of AR that lets users interact with virtual objects. Instead of just seeing an object in the virtual version of physical space, users can touch and interact with the object—for instance, placing a virtual whiteboard that users can draw on using a tablet. MR tech continually gathers information about a user’s environment to make the space feel “real.”
While there are still many questions about how the Metaverse will function in the future, AR, VR, and MR will no doubt be at its core. These technologies will enable the Metaverse to resemble space and time in the real world, so interactions are visual, auditory, and dynamic.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer’s ability to do things typically done by people. Today, Meta uses AI and algorithms to analyze, curate, and serve up content within their other platforms, Facebook and Instagram. Most people have experienced AI without realizing it. “Alexa, what’s the weather?” and “Hey Siri, read my messages” are both examples of AI in everyday life.
For the Metaverse, users will find examples of AI in avatars and digital representations of the human body. Avatars represent the individual’s creativity in their virtual world, freeing them to change their look to whatever they want it to be. Digital humans acting as background characters can interact with real people through AI technology, creating a richer, more profound virtual experience in the Metaverse.
Bolstered by machine learning, AI technology, including language processing, will make interactions in the Metaverse increasingly more sophisticated.
A key feature of AI is language processing, where processing breaks down natural spoken languages and outputs them into a machine-readable format. Then, the AI creates a response, converts it back to English, and sends it back to the user. Language processing could enable interaction between players and non-player characters (NPCs) in the Metaverse.
AI and machine learning both benefit from a plethora of data. As the technology collects more data and experiences feedback from human interaction, AI gets better. As the AI gets better, it will be increasingly more realistically human, and the Metaverse will continuously grow more like the real-world human experience.
The Metaverse has plenty of benefits—like secure transactions, inflation-proof digital currency, and engagement with friends and family anywhere in the world—but it’s still a topic of debate. Questions of access, integrity, security, and ethics will keep the Metaverse in active conversation. However, the Metaverse is still relatively new, and research, operations, and testing advance it daily. The Metaverse is an amalgamation of advanced technology introduced with increasing speed over the past decade.
Our clients don’t have to navigate the complexities and questions of the Metaverse alone. InspiringApps builds beautiful and inspiring software, and we’re here to help you thrive during your journey into the Metaverse.
InspiringApps & Brain+Trust
This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that we have seen many tech disruptions in a relatively short time. A “disruptive technology” could be defined as one that displaces an established technology, thereby shaking up an industry and reshaping its future trajectory. A tech disruptor could also be a ground-breaking product that creates an entirely new industry. Join our drive down the technology superhighway as we rediscover the top tech disruptions over the past 10 years and dive into what’s next. 2014: Amazon Echo Brings the IoT Home Amazon Echo barreled into our lives this year, causing us to rethink how we might use technology in our homes. Powered by Amazon’s voice control system Alexa, the Echo started with just a few intelligent voice commands. Alexa now boasts thousands of “skills” and has become the central hub in so-called smart homes, helping to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to a much wider audience. Followed quickly by Google Home and more recently by Apple HomePod, this technology is sure to continue to grow. 2015: Autonomous Vehicles Inspire Change The autonomous car, aka the self-driving car, is envisioned as one capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. The quest to develop technologies that could enable such a feat began to rise in 2015. Consumers have benefitted from numerous changes in car technology (think adaptive speed tech, proximity sensors, guidance systems, etc.) as manufacturers began pursuing this vision. This dramatic reshaping of the automotive industry certainly deserves a call-out. 2016: Oculus Rift Opens Up Virtual Reality Virtual reality (VR) as a concept has been around for decades and offers increasing value in everything from military training to surgery simulation to product development and testing. Although Google had been selling Google Glass prototypes since 2013, VR’s availability to consumers was limited until the introduction of Oculus Rift in 2016. With its launch, VR exploded into many homes. The system was a hot gift and introduced the concept of VR to a broader audience—it’s hard not to enjoy (or laugh with?) someone experiencing VR for the first time! 2017: AI Takes the Stage Artificial intelligence (AI) is a science-fiction trope brought to life. With numerous large companies investing billions of dollars on research in this field, it’s poised to influence how we live and work in the coming years. Applications include everything from automating tasks using bots to enabling computers to answer complex, multi-tiered questions by “learning” from previous queries. 2018: 5G Begins Its Rollout As connectivity became more ubiquitous, fast and reliable internet demand increased. It’s not enough to watch a streaming movie in the middle of nowhere—it has to be smooth! Beginning in 2018, 5G promised to bring more channels for higher speed, lower latency, and greater bandwidth for more connected devices. But 5G wasn’t exciting for smartphone fans only: the benefits had implications for healthcare, education, smart homes, connected cars, and more. 2019: 3D Printers Revolutionize the 4th Industrial Revolution Although the technology and equipment for 3D printing were available in the mid-1980s, 3D printing was imprecise, bulky, and costly. Thirty years later, 3D printing made it to the mainstream as a disruptive technology. This disruptive technology appeared in 2019 as part of predictive maintenance in manufacturing. Smart sensors helped identify potential problems, and 3D printers built new parts before needing to be needed. 2020: Passwordless Authentication Hits Big Tech For many of us, forgetting our passwords is a daily occurrence, but those days may be behind us, thanks to the push for passwordless authentication in 2020. While the world stood still during the COVID-19 pandemic, big tech companies like Microsoft began to push for two-factor authentication and passwordless logins, and an identity management startup called Beyond Identity launched its passwordless identify platform in April. Companies like Adobe and Facebook began utilizing new security features to give us the luxury of forgetting those complicated passwords. 2021: IoT Builds the Virtual World Technology automation through IoT didn’t begin in 2021, but this year brought a boon for intelligent everything. The IoT connects objects in the real world—navigation systems, thermostats, your virtual assistant, Alexa—with virtual identifiers on the internet. These identifiers “talk” virtually to create a web of connections and collaborations between the devices. Although IoT has been used in home-based applications, 2021 brought the technology to new areas, including manufacturing, mining, and healthcare. 2022: ChatGPT Redefines Human-Computer Interaction In 2022, ChatGPT emerged as the undeniable frontrunner and the most influential tech disruption of the year. Developed by OpenAI, this groundbreaking language model harnessed the power of the GPT-3.5 architecture to revolutionize human-computer interactions. With its ability to understand context, generate coherent responses, and adapt to users’ needs, ChatGPT transcended traditional chatbots, becoming a sophisticated conversational AI companion. Its applications spanned diverse industries, from customer support to creative writing, education, and even healthcare. As ChatGPT continuously learned and evolved, it showcased the transformative potential of artificial intelligence, leaving an indelible mark on the technology landscape of 2022 and beyond. 2023: Apple Vision Pro Unleashes the Power of Spatial Computing In 2023, spatial computing, specifically the Apple Vision Pro, emerged as the pinnacle of technological disruption, revolutionizing how we interact with digital information. Years earlier, Apple’s visionary smartwatch had cemented Apple as the leader in wearable technology. In 2023, the Apple Vision Pro promises to enable users to seamlessly integrate virtual elements into their physical surroundings, unlocking unparalleled immersion and productivity. We can now see a future where the days of limited screen real estate are gone; users can effortlessly interact with a vast array of applications and data in a three-dimensional, contextually aware environment. This leap in spatial computing may solidify VR’s position as an indispensable tool and open up new frontiers in communication, productivity, and entertainment, forever changing the way we perceive and interact with technology. What’s next? Tech disruptions in the 21st century have transformed our reality into a digital-first experience. Technology is changing faster than ever. Backed by a confluence of all these giant leaps forward, the future is a brave new world. Our predictions for what’s next include: Prediction 1: Quantum Computing Revolutionizes Data Processing Quantum computing is poised to shatter the boundaries of traditional computing capabilities. With its ability to leverage quantum mechanics principles, it will handle complex problems at speeds that were once deemed impossible. Industries such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, and cryptography will see groundbreaking advancements, leading to accelerated drug discovery, optimized supply chains, and next-level data security. As quantum computers become more accessible, researchers and innovators will unlock the potential for solving real-world challenges that were previously impossible. Prediction 2: Hyper-Automation Transforms Workforce Efficiency Hyper-automation is revolutionizing the business world with advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA). By automating complex processes, companies can boost productivity, streamline operations, and free up time for creative and strategic initiatives. This transformational trend empowers workers through upskilling and reskilling, leading to a promising future where technology complements human expertise for greater success. Prediction 3: AI-Driven Personalization Enhances User Experience As AI continues to integrate deeply into our digital lives, offering personalized experiences across platforms becomes the new norm. 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