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Definition: metaverse


(1) See also multiverse.

(2) The term was coined in 1992 for a 3D virtual world in Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" novel. In the 2020s, the metaverse term caught on as the latest manifestation of a simulated online world. In a virtual world, users are represented as realistic or cartoon-like characters (see avatar and digital twin).

The first virtual world was Second Life in 2003. Still thriving, it lets people live a fantasy online. Years later, Bitcoin buzz created Decentraland to promote using crypto to purchase virtual land. The Spatial organization calls its NFT art galleries "the metaverse of exhibitions," and Bloktopia offers a 21-level metaverse game. See Second Life, Decentraland, Spatial, NFT and Bloktopia.

More Than Just Fantasy
Any get-together where two or more people congregate is a candidate for a virtual world. There are many sci-fi interpretations, including a future where 3D virtual meetings are as common as a phone call today. Perhaps by 2035, this could be a daily reality.

There is plenty of interest and development. Animoca Brands raised $550M to fund an "open gaming metaverse." Meta Platforms (Facebook) has been selling VR goggles since 2014, and the company changed its name in 2021 to reflect the metaverse future. Many prototypes for Meta's next VR systems are being explored (see Oculus). Apple is also in the mix (see realityOS). See Meta Platforms.

VR Goggles or AR Glasses?
Most metaverse offerings today are available on a computer screen; however, to be truly catapulted into a 3D environment, virtual reality (VR) goggles are required to drown out the real world. Augmented reality (AR) glasses may also make a comeback (see Google Glass).

Where Metaverse and Crypto Intersect
Although different technologies, metaverse and crypto come together because new 3D worlds and games offer merchandise as NFTs (non-fungible tokens). When people own NFT assets, they may be able to sell and trade them in multiple venues. See NFT and GameFi.

It Could Be Several Years Away
We have a long way to go to make this universal for the masses. Goggles have to become much lighter and less bulky. Time will tell, but in the meantime, there is a lot of buzz. See virtual reality, augmented reality, VR headset, smart glasses, virtual world and Oculus.




Perhaps the First Metaverse
In 1957, not only did Morton Heilig's Sensorama have immersive video and stereo sound, it included smell, seat vibrations and wind. (Image courtesy of MinecraftPsycho.)






Coining the Term
The metaverse term was coined for a 3D virtual world in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel. The story is about a futuristic pizza delivery service.






Getting Better All the Time
In 2016, VR goggles were getting much better according to PC Magazine. Imagine virtual reality 50 years from now! (Image courtesy of PCMag.com.)