The Metaverse is the next evolutionary step in digital human interaction.
What is the Metaverse?
Simply put: The leap from a 2-dimensional to a 3-dimensional Internet. Instead of a regular screen, applications are viewed using special glasses. These can be AR or VR glasses.
AR stands for augmented reality, i.e. the extension of "normal reality" with computer-generated content. For example, you put on a pair of glasses with which you can view your surroundings normally, and the computer superimposes additional content into the glasses. For example, a virtual meeting participant sitting at the table, although the person is not physically present in the room. Also conceivable is a 3D model of a product that is superimposed on the meeting table or in the room. Similar to the cover image of this article. Any person wearing the appropriate glasses can perceive the 3D model. An example of AR glasses is, for example, the Google Glass.
VR stands for virtual reality, which is a completely virtual environment in which all content is generated by the computer. Examples of VR glasses are the Oculus Quest, HTC Vive or Varjo. In all cases, regardless of whether AR or VR, social as well as productivity components should play a supporting role. Let's take a closer look at this in the following sections.
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According to META founder Marc Zuckerberg, the META Group develops technology that helps people interact with each other digitally. Photo-realistic avatars and deceptively real meeting rooms in virtual reality environments, for example, are the next evolutionary stage of Zoom meetings. In combination with spatial audio, i.e., realistic room sound, meeting situations in the digital world are to become significantly more realistic and immersive than is familiar today from video conferences in Microsoft teams or similar programs. Whisper something to the person sitting next to you? Quickly moving to a separate chat room in a small group? Showing and hiding products, screens and whiteboards in the meeting environment? All this should be possible in the future. But it's also clear that a lot of hardware and software still has to be developed before this vision can become reality. This will certainly take several more years.
It is also important to mention the goal: People should not spend MORE time with computers and in the digital world, but the time we invest in the digital world should become more productive. On a social level (interpersonal interaction), this includes productive meetings in which work can be done in a goal-oriented and efficient manner. However, the pure productivity level is also important, which we will examine below.
VR, or virtual reality, offers a decisive advantage: Any environment can be generated as desired. This is already being used today for VR training. For example, where hazardous situations are simulated and real training is associated with high effort and costs. Examples: Helicopter training, crisis scenarios on oil rigs and oil platforms, military training purposes and many more. Even in "normal" scenarios, however, virtual reality offers the opportunity to increase productivity. Think, for example, of engineers who can virtually generate the perfect development environment, including actual development work on special components in the respective deployment scenario. Want to beam up to a wind turbine and work there? Absolutely conceivable with just a few clicks in VR.