On October 28, 2021, Facebook made a very important announcement that attracted global attention. Facebook company is rebranding itself as Meta and bringing all its social apps and technologies under one brand. Furthermore, they also have introduced ‘Metaverse’, a brand new virtual reality and augmented reality experience for social media.

This announcement has caused mixed reactions worldwide (Source: Buzzfeed) but we all are looking forward to the direction Facebook would be taking from here onwards. However, we are not as surprised about their rebranding announcement. What really caught our attention was their plans to integrate virtual reality and augmented reality on all of their social media platforms.

Now now, that isn’t anything particularly new, is it? A variety of free and paid VR applications have been around for a while now. VRchat, a VR social game, is especially popular for its creativity and social interaction value. Facebook, or should we say Meta, appears to be taking a similar path. How is it going to be any different? Only time will tell.

 

Metaverse – A Brand New Social Virtual Reality Experience

The last decade, especially, has been foreshadowing the advancement of how we would use technology seamlessly to make our lives easier, livelier, and more convenient. And at its centre lies touch-based feedbacks (smartphones), holograms, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Whether you believe or accept it or not right now, this is the future. And giants like Facebook have noticed it.

Facebook has plans to bring forth Metaverse as virtual reality and augmented reality social media experience. Of course, we are still far away from perfecting the VR experience so it may not sound or feel as grand at the moment. There will be plenty of technical issues too. But we believe that, over the period of time, Metaverse will evolve to be a great experience for us all. This article will focus on what do you need to know about the VR and AR side of Metaverse. But before that, let’s focus on some important points.

1. Requirements for experiencing the Metaverse:

Mark Zuckerberg has mentioned the Oculus Quest 2 as a go-to VR headset for a full-fledged VR experience. They are planning to majorly integrate and make use of the features offered by Quest 2 headsets. However, in the future, they are planning to not rely just on the Quest 2 and make Metaverse compatible with other devices as well.

Oculus Quest 2 costs around 12000 Rands in South Africa. So that is the price you will have to consider if you are looking forward to experiencing Metaverse from day one.

But that’s not all. Meta is also planning to evolve its VR and AR experience to make it feel more natural, interactive, expressive, and real. That also means they will be future product lines that will enhance this experience for us. In his talk on Facebook Connect, Mark has revealed two product lines.

  • Project Cambria: a high-end VR headset that will support the future-generation Meta VR experience (source: Techcrunch).
  • Nazare Glasses: high-end AR glasses to further enhance your Meta AR experience. (source: Road to VR)

2. Privacy?

Ever since 2018, Facebook has been a notorious target for privacy breaches. Rumours around are saying that Facebook is also trying to rebrand itself to establish a new identity with better privacy protections (and potentially erasing their history with privacy-related issues).

According to Mark, privacy and safety will be the central aspect of the Metaverse from day 1. It is the foundation he wants to build the Metaverse on. You get to decide when you want to interact with other people or when you don’t want to. Metaverse also features a personal space called “Horizon Homes”. You can kick people out of your personal space if you have invited them. You have complete control.

However, on the background of social media and privacy risks, our personal advice here would be not to put sensitive and very private information on Facebook (or any other social media platform, actually). Keep yourself safe out there.

3. Non-VR Metaverse access and experience.

Not having a VR kit does not mean you cannot dive into Metaverse. You can still continue to use your social media accounts normally, just like how you do it right now. People experiencing the VR world can call you directly through or interact or live stream with you. In this way, you may get to experience their virtual reality experience through their eyes.

Let’s understand the prominent VR features of the Metaverse we will get to experience.

 

Virtual Reality of the Metaverse – A Brand New World

1. Horizon Homes

This is your personal space in the Metaverse. Your home. You get to customise the way you want it. You can even change the scenery out the window. This is your personal space and nobody can enter it without your consent. There will be a ton of customisation options available as Metaverse evolves. As this is your home space, you would want to make it feel like being at home, right?

2. Horizon Workplaces

This is something Meta has been experimenting on and implementing as well. Since the pandemic, many employees have started working remotely, making it a new normal. However, we also have lost the actual human touch, the real-time interaction with colleagues, and so on. This is where Meta wants to step in. It aims to bring more life into remote workplaces by integrating VR and AR technologies. Meta believes that this will bring people closer more than ever, no matter where they are or what they are doing.

3. Horizon Worlds

Horizon Worlds are virtual spaces created by various creators globally. If you have played VRChat, you will understand this concept rather easily. Horizon Worlds are the space made for people where they can hang out, interact with each other, chat, or do other activities such as playing cards, bowling, boating, fishing, surfing, and so on. The privacy settings can be set accordingly. Usually, the creator will control the admin rights of their respective Horizon World. It may be public or private.

4. Meta – Virtual Reality, Leisure, Entertainment, and Games

Metaverse intends to bring various cooperative activities such as day-to-day exercises, playing board games such as chess, or sharing good moments together. Suppose you are on a nice trek, and you would want to share that moment with a friend who’s not present there. Use Metaverse! Summon your friend through AR. Celebrate your moments with someone who’s not there instantly through the technology of VR and AR.

Meta is also collaborating with a variety of developers to bring tons of virtual reality gaming experiences to the Metaverse. Big titles like Beat Saber, Grand Theft Auto, and Population: ONE are collaborating with Metaverse. Not only the developers but the content creators will also profit from this.

There are tons of interactive activities coming on Metaverse and only the future will reveal what more is there.

5. Augmented Reality – Be with your loved ones.

Augmented Reality allows you to interact with a person, no matter where you two are in the world. If you don’t understand what augmented reality is, the best example would be Pokemon GO. It is an augmented reality game where you catch pokemon in real-time. On his Facebook Connect announcement, he used the example of a friend at a concert summoning her friend from Kyoto, Japan directly into the concern through augmented reality.

Meta believes that with such technologies, we will be able to experience ‘reality’, connecting with people on-demand, instantly, at any time they want – all this without leaving our comfort zones.

6. Virtual Merchandise

Metaverse will feature a variety of virtual accessories and collectables from various developers and content creators. Of course, this will be a paid – microtransaction – aspect of the Metaverse so that the creators who decide to make a living on the Metaverse content can make a living too. And yes, Metaverse will also benefit from this virtual economy.

Metaverse plans to use NFTs to make these virtual items unique for a user. In simple words, an NFT is like a license of ownership that uses blockchain technology to validate such information.

Related: What is NFT? (Source: The Verge)

 

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, Meta is going to happen and virtual reality is going to be a part of our future. Personally speaking, all the social media platforms do possess a risk towards protecting your privacy. It is all about how you manage your private data. In the end, don’t be all social on the internet about your social life to keep yourself safe.

Apart from that point, Meta and virtual reality was an exciting announcement. Whether it will fulfil the promises they have made is yet to be seen. But this paper on the idea sure sounds exciting. Only the future will tell what Meta has got for us. To get a summary on Meta, check out this video by CNET. They have summed it up pretty well! (Do check the comments if you are interested in seeing a few reactions on Meta announcement too!)

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