Archana: – Hello and welcome to the first episode of our metaverse podcast series. My name is Archana Modawal, and I am a Content Writer at Softweb Solutions, an Avnet Company. I am delighted to welcome our guests Abhinav Srivastava, a Senior Business Development Manager at Softweb Solutions and Jay Parikh, a System Architect at Softweb Solutions. The topic for today’s podcast is – The metaverse, its fundamentals and implications on society at large.
As the title suggests, today we will be talking about the most trending topic of current technological advancements – The Metaverse. Jay, would you like to throw some light on today’s topic?
Jay: Certainly, Archana. Meta is the new buzz word in internet technology. So, let us begin with the literal meaning of the metaverse. Meta means ‘beyond’ and verse refers to ‘universe.’ Collectively, we can call it a reality that is beyond the universe in which we operate in the present. The term metaverse does not imply any technology, but it refers to a substantial change in the way we interact and communicate with each other at present. It is like the drift that all of us witnessed when smartphones became common, and we could see and talk to our friends and families via video calls in real-time.
Abhinav: Definitely, Jay. It has become a popular term in no time after Facebook became Meta. And it is quite possible that the metaverse itself will become commonplace when the technology that it is built upon becomes common. Talking about the technologies involved, the metaverse is comprised of augmented reality and virtual reality. Virtual reality continues to exist even when not accessed, and augmented reality combines the features of digital and real worlds. However, such spaces do not have to be accessible via VR or AR. So, it would not be wrong to say that the metaverse is formed when we network 3D virtual worlds, keeping our focus on social connections.
Jay: Exactly, in other words, it is a simulated digital environment that uses augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain and ideas from digital media, to build spaces for a great user interaction simulating the real world.
Let us visualize the metaverse first
The metaverse is like another world in which you can enter and experience a life that you want to live outside the real-world life that you are already living. Here, you can interact with objects like you normally do. You will not just see images on a screen, but images will be projected onto your eyes, creating an atmosphere that will make you feel like you are actually present in a virtual world. Like the role-based games you play online.
It is like a virtual world where you can enter and experience things that you do in the physical world. You can walk around with friends, play games, buy and sell goods and services, purchase properties, visit places, attend concerts, trade shows and learning events. You can invest in digital artwork through NFTs, meet and collaborate with remote colleagues, get a job in the metaverse, express yourself through customizable avatars and a lot more.
Archana: This was an apt description of how the metaverse would actually look and feel.
Now coming to the three fundamentals of the metaverse: the blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Abhinav, could you please tell us about the role of blockchain and crypto in the metaverse?
Abhinav: Sure, Archana. It has been a while since blockchain became the talk of the town, giving all of us a fair idea of what it is and what it does. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that is shared between the nodes of a computer network. It stores information electronically in digital format. Blockchains maintain a secure and decentralized record of transactions, especially in cryptocurrency systems like Bitcoin. Blockchains guarantee the security of a system and the data stored.
Coming to cryptocurrencies, they are virtual assets that are used all over the world for digital transaction. Cryptocurrencies are a secure, decentralized, and transparent method of payment that has been globally accepted. And several metaverse platforms that are based on decentralized blockchain are already using cryptocurrencies.
The implementation of crypto into the metaverse would be beneficial because:
1. Cryptocurrency is not under the control of any centralized authority
2. It provides the user with digital proof of authenticity and ownership
3. Crypto provides a collaborative platform
4. It facilitates high-speed transactions
5. Crypto preserves user privacy and security and provides complete anonymity
Archana: Thanks for explaining the role of blockchain and crypto in the metaverse, Abhinav.
Now, I’d request Jay to explain the role of NFTs in the metaverse.
Jay: Sure, Archana. I would give our audience a little idea of NFTs first. NFTs are the non-fungible tokens that are an important part of the metaverse. They work on blockchain technology and provide proprietorship to digital items, virtual properties, virtual artworks, music, videos, gaming items, etc. in the metaverse using crypto tokens.
As stated before, the metaverse services offer numerous possibilities from making purchases, attending virtual concerts, traveling, shopping, to watching movies and a lot more. Since it contains a complete economy and comprises both physical and virtual worlds, it will be decentralized. This is the point that connects metaverse and NFTs because both are related to digital assets. The metaverse enables creators to display digital forms of art and property, and NFTs manage the pricing part with proof of ownership.
NFTs work on smart contracts. Let me explain it briefly. A smart contract is a computer code that automatically establishes the terms of an agreement. It is stored on a platform based on blockchain. So, when a user wants to purchase a virtual property in the metaverse, they can buy it through NFT smart contracts. This gives a buyer the ownership of the purchased property.
So, the only token that will be accepted to purchase anything in the metaverse is cryptocurrency. And it is not restricted to just purchases, users can also play virtual games and earn rewards using an avatar through cryptocurrencies.
A few projects that are included in NFT are:
- MetaCity, which is a metaverse gaming platform like Minecraft that enables users to purchase and trade NFT plots and grow businesses.
- And Sorare is an NFT game built on the Ethereum blockchain network for football fans.
Abhinav: Well, this sounds interesting. I would like to mention here the connection between blockchain and NFT. NFTs use the same blockchain technology that cryptocurrencies use. This technology makes sure that the assets that content creators create are auditable, so that the buyers can monitor them. In a way, blockchain is responsible for introducing interoperability and lacking features in the metaverse.
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Moreover, NFTs ensure that the origin of an asset can be recorded and tracked by using certain codes in the programming. In simple words, when a user buys an asset, its creator will receive a certain percentage as payment for each transaction.
Some brands have already started using NFTs, like Adidas recently announced an NFT collection called ‘Into the Metaverse.’ It includes virtual wearables that people can buy and use in the Metaverse along with physical clothing to match up. Another example is Gucci that sold a single bag for $4,000 through its pop-up world named Gucci Garden. And Nike has acquired the digital sneaker maker RTFKT Studios and built an immersive world called Nikeland that features buildings, arenas, etc. The metaverse is here and the future is digital.
Jay: Yes indeed, Abhi. And this also shows how metaverse is already in function and it will become a part of our daily lives soon. Having talked about the fundamentals of the metaverse, let us now discuss how it is impacting our everyday lives.
With every new technological advancement, the way this world operated in the past gets modified. No doubt, this has mostly led to better results. So, let us begin with one of the most important and loved practices – shopping in the metaverse.
The metaverse is already modifying the ways we shop. For example, IKEA has started using augmented reality to place furniture in our house and offices to show us how it will look before we actually buy it. Similarly, L’Oreal and Avon now make use of augmented reality to enable users to try on their products through the virtual try option to help them choose the right shade. So, we are already experiencing how the metaverse is augmenting the retail experiences for buyers.
Abhinav: Exactly, the way metaverse is evolving and several industries have started using it, very soon we will witness people using it to provide immersive and engaging learning facilities in professional, educational and personal settings.
Coming to how metaverse is transforming training and education, one such example is in Poland, where faculties use the VR game Half-Life: Alyx to conduct science classes. Another example is Skanska, which is using metaverse environment for conducting health and safety training.
Jay: It is fascinating how metaverse is gradually making its way to help not only in training but also facilitating healthcare professionals to help patients virtually. The metaverse will be an appropriate medium to provide people with innovative ways to look after their health. Virtual reality counseling is already available, and counselors are using VR glasses to give exposure therapy to patients. They are using it to make people feel comfortable in situations that frighten them, by making them experience similar situations in a secure and supervised environment. Also, doctors are using AR for guiding specific surgical processes and training for operations using digital twins.
Abhinav: Talking of Metaverse travel tech, the hotel industry is using VR for marketing by creating immersive experiences to attract new guests. We can also take VR tours all over the world. And the metaverse will enable us to go virtually anywhere in the world just by wearing a headset. It also gives access to guided AR tours when we physically travel and makes our travel experience better and more knowledgeable.
Jay: Metaverse is really intriguing, Abhi. With all the capabilities required for innovations, the metaverse is all set to transform the way we create new things. Technologists, industrialists, and inventors are already using digital twins to simulate how things will look in the physical world.
For example, Formula is creating new racing cars using digital twins. And NVIDIA is offering an omniverse that allows you to create the complete architecture of a building in a virtual world. You can also walk around the building by putting on your VR goggles. This is just an introduction of what will be possible in the metaverse soon.
Abhinav: The future of the world is digital
So, Jay, we can safely say that the metaverse is constantly evolving since blockchain is being continuously developed. And hence the implementation of blockchain is swiftly transforming the world of digital assets. This is an ever-evolving and never-ending process that has already started impacting our lives in numerous ways as we have discussed.
Digitalization is already affecting industries, businesses, banks and society at an exponential rate and will continue to do so. And it is all set to bring more changes in the future. Modern technologies are being developed to form and shape the future faster than anyone ever expected. The future of the world is digital.
Jay: Exactly, and therefore it is imperative to have new forms of record keeping, digital identity, etc. to function in the digital time that we are living in at present. Though these advances may be perplexing and challenging to embrace and comprehend, we must prepare ourselves and our businesses for the all-new world that blockchain technologies are forming.
Archana: This was an insightful discussion. Thank you for your time, Jay and Abhinav. With this, we would like to end today’s podcast episode. We hope you have gained a fair idea of what metaverse is, how it is reforming our lives and how it will impact society at large. If you have any queries, please send an email to email@example.com. We would be happy to answer your questions.
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