The Metaverse: what are the elements needed to enter the virtual world?

6 min

Social media has sparked a desire in us to feel like the main character. We want to engage with brands, receive personalized products, and do it all without leaving our sofa. The Metaverse appears to be the solution to this need. It enables us to interact with minimal physical effort in a virtual world that is becoming increasingly similar to the real one. The potential of this technology is not limited to the consumer world but also extends to the business world. Let’s explore the meaning of the Metaverse and the elements that amplify its potential.

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What are the main technologies and infrastructures of the Metaverse?

The term Metaverse refers to a collection of interconnected virtual worlds and concepts. In general, it can be described as an online space where users can interact, play, work, and socialize through their avatars. However, the implications of this technology extend far beyond these possibilities.

Accessing the Metaverse is simple; all you need is a hardware device, such as a computer, smartphone, or advanced equipment like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) viewers. One chooses a Metaverse platform such as VRChat, Second Life, Roblox, Fortnite Creative, or whatever parallel world interests us for the purpose and logs in, following the instructions and creating our avatar. However, understanding how to use this technology effectively, both as a user and as a company, can be more challenging.

Indeed, the Metaverse is a young virtual world that has not yet shown its full potential and in which brands and users are testing. Currently, artists are experimenting with this concept by organizing concerts and art exhibitions. Luxury brands are also utilizing it by hosting virtual fashion shows and previewing garments. Manufacturing companies are using prototypes and simulated environments to train their staff.

The complete infrastructure that could potentially be in place with all the technologies at our disposal has not yet been realized. The challenges are not only technical but also bureaucratic and social. Currently, virtual worlds are primarily associated with gaming.

Yet, we have advanced tools to interact in the digital world. Among these, Natural Language Processing (NLP) enables computers to interpret and respond to human language, improving interaction between users and digital systems. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are also valuable assets that authenticate and establish ownership in the Metaverse. Additionally, fast internet connections are essential to ensure smooth movements and interactions.

However, focusing solely on the technical aspects of this new world is limiting. It is worth analyzing the new social and commercial experiences that will influence and transform our personal and professional lives.

Elements of a Metaverse

How will social experiences and entertainment be enhanced in the Metaverse?

The Metaverse, like any disruptive innovation, is approached differently by companies. On one hand, there are daring pioneers who are ready to explore these new virtual spaces first. On the other hand, there are those who are more cautious and prefer to observe before acting. In the latter case, the doubts are usually the same: is it just a momentary trend or is it worth investing in? The best way to answer these questions is to explore the virtual space as a user. To comprehend the potential business goals and strategies of the Metaverse, it is necessary to explore events, games, and digital shops through our avatar.

Presently, the Metaverse primarily offers opportunities for brands in marketing and branding. Virtual space provides an ideal platform to host exclusive events, including concerts, conferences, and social gatherings, that can engage a global audience. Through avatars moving in 3D environments, participants can not only observe but also network with their peers, even if they live on opposite sides of the globe.

To make interaction in the Metaverse more realistic, there is a push towards the creation of Digital Humans. They are an evolution of chatbots, which are often perceived as cold and aloof. These are empathic and intelligent social interfaces that have a human face and associate words with facial expressions. The outcome is more empathetic, resulting in an engaging and attractive user experience.

In the Metaverse, social aspects and the social media we use are transformed into multimedia platforms that integrate communication, marketing, e-commerce, entertainment, and creativity, redefining the human experience as we know it. In practice, video calling allows us to see distant relatives or friends, while the Metaverse offers the possibility of meeting them in a virtual square through their respective avatars and going shopping in virtual stores, even if we live in different countries.

Unstoppable technological progress is enhancing the Metaverse, improving social experiences, entertainment, work, and business opportunities. Click To Tweet

How is digital commerce changing in the Metaverse and what opportunities does it bring to industries?

Shopping in the Metaverse is not simply an evolution of e-commerce associated with virtual reality. It offers broader opportunities for buying and selling products, works of art, and services. Consider the use of cryptocurrencies instead of traditional currencies, direct sales without intermediaries, and enhanced avatar interactions within virtual shops.

The Metaverse also offers opportunities for creating and marketing purely digital products, such as avatar clothing and virtual furniture. Brands must utilize these virtual environments to personalize their offerings or create an immersive experience that engages and stimulates consumers to interact with the brand.

As we move into the industrial sector, we also see an extension of the Metaverse innovations. There is even talk of the Industrial Metaverse, or the use of immersive and networked technologies to transform sectors such as manufacturing, energy and logistics.

Let’s take a practical example. In a manufacturing plant, a Digital Twin could simulate the production process in real-time in the Metaverse. Engineers can use this virtual replica to test changes, predict malfunctions, and optimize operations without interrupting real production. This integration enables continuous innovation, reduces costs and time, and improves plant safety and efficiency.

That’s not all. The digital environment is also impacting our work, playing an increasingly significant role in the global digital economy.

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How do places and work change in the Metaverse?

The evolution of the Metaverse is occurring during a time of significant changes in work dynamics. The growing emphasis on work-life balance is leading to the dematerialization of workplaces and increased flexibility in working hours. However, the pandemic accelerated the need to work remotely. While some steps were taken backward after the health emergency, equally productive alternative routes were discovered. Let’s take an example.

There are few companies that have not exploited the potential of the global market, whether internationally or just nationally. The opening of borders, which has already begun with globalization, has led to frequent travel to present products or services, enter into partnerships, or even train personnel. A first step in this direction was taken with video calls, which have drastically reduced business travel.

But it is in the Metaverse that encounters increasingly resemble the real thing. In this digital universe, physical barriers become irrelevant, allowing greater flexibility and openness to new ways of working together. Imagine attending meetings in three-dimensional virtual environments where your avatar interacts with colleagues from around the world, overcoming the limitations of geographical distance. You could, for example, train new employees or demonstrate how a job is done.

In the Metaverse, you could also move your office: you no longer need a physical location but can access a customizable and interactive digital space from your sofa. This opens the way to new forms of creative and personal expression in the work context.

At the same time, the Metaverse is expanding employment opportunities and creating new roles and professions. Virtual environment designers, immersive experience developers, and digital economy specialists are just a few examples of the new professions that will be in demand.

Moreover, the Metaverse could also influence the way work is valued and remunerated, with the possibility of using cryptocurrencies and smart contracts to manage compensation and intellectual property rights more efficiently and transparently.

In this brief overview, we can see that the Metaverse is not just a change of scenery, but a reworking of the very foundations of the productive world and beyond. This virtual place offers new perspectives, challenges, and opportunities that are still in their infancy but which, if embraced, can take us giant leaps forward in short order.

Before concluding, a brief reflection on the meaning of Metaverse. The word is nothing more than the combination of the prefix ‘meta,’ which in Greek means ‘behind, beyond, beyond,’ and the ‘verse,’ an abbreviation of the noun ‘universe.’ But wouldn’t it be more appropriate to associate the prefix ‘meta’ with the word ‘metaphor’? Think about it. What else is the Metaverse if not a metaphorical universe that recreates real, interconnected complexity in the digital.

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