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What is the metaverse? Simply explained + practical examples

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metaverse

The technology world is upside down. What is this metaverse that everyone is hearing and reading about now? Why can it change the world? What opportunities arise for teams, companies, and our lives? How is it changing marketing? What new business models are emerging? Here’s everything you need to know about the Metaverse – plus some eye-opening real-life examples.

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To start with, three quotes to make you smile:

“$500?” chuckled then-Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer after Apple boss Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007. “This is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business users at all because it doesn’t have a keyboard. So it’s not a particularly good mail machine.”

“I think there’s a market for maybe five computers in the world. That was what Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, predicted in the war year 1943. And then it was IBM of all people that helped the PC as we know it today to break through and made it a mass product.

The invention of the computer, the smartphone – are all milestones in human history. And now Web 3.0 is coming. Right in the middle Blockchain, NFTs – and the Metaverse.

And it is precisely this metaverse that we want to take a closer look at.

What is the metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg says the Metaverse is the next big thing on the internet. Accordingly, Facebook will no longer be a social media company in the future, but a metaverse company.

He even says, “The Metaverse is no longer just the internet you look at. You take part in it, you move in it.” More on that in a moment…

The topic has also played a major role in certain scenes for a long time. Young people and gamers, in particular, have been dealing with the topics of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) linked to virtual, digital goods for a long time – e.g. also on the blockchain as NFTs. They enter virtual worlds through special glasses.

And that’s exactly what can now go mainstream – and also come across as very different: The Facebook platform has made so many companies big worldwide – now they use their power to make their new baby big! But …

The important thing to understand is that this Metaverse issue isn’t something that only Facebook will claim or control. Why?

The ultimate quality of the Metaverse is decentralization. In other words, there won’t be one, two, or three big platforms like Amazon, Google, or Facebook controlling the market. This new virtual universe works in a decentralized way and everyone can in principle network with everyone else in this virtual world and move around in it. We’ll go into more detail on that below.

Web 3.0

In his keynote, Mark Zuckerberg also presented a video that gives an impression of what the whole thing could look like in the future:

Zuckerberg defines the metaverse as follows: “The metaverse is an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.”

The whole development started with the Internet 1.0. You only consumed from the screen. We surfed websites, looked up contact details, and when it came up, we might drop by some chats.

Web 2.0 was the whole social media and mobile revolution. Here we move on centralized internet and social media platforms. Above all Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. On these platforms, we are mostly mobile with our cell phones. But we continue to look at the Internet. And now comes version 3.0: The Metaverse. In doing so, we become part of the Internet, we are part of the Internet.

But how can we imagine that in concrete terms? Now let’s take a closer look…

This is what the Metaverse might feel like…

As a kid, I was a huge fan of flight simulators and 3D cinema. I even had a season ticket for Phantasialand. There, one of the coolest attractions for me was a 3D flight simulator that allowed you to fly through the universe. You probably know this:

You sit down in this dark ball. The seat moves hydraulically and you have a huge screen in front of you. And then you fly through the universe and have the feeling of sitting in this spaceship and flying through space and time.

It’s very similar in the 3D cinema: Put on the 3D glasses and it immediately feels like you’re in the movie.

For me, this is the first step in the direction of how we can envision the Metaverse. With just one big difference:

In the Metaverse, we are part of this digital world. So we don’t get them in front of us and can then “only” look at them, for example in a flight simulator or a 3D cinema. Instead, a real-world emerges.

A real-world where we can live, where we can interact, where we can do business with other people, where things can happen. Let’s take a closer look at a few eye-opening examples of how this can look in practice.

So the Metaverse is a digital world controlled by us as real individuals, shaped by us, lived by us. We “beam” or “teleport” ourselves into a digital world.

Decentralization – the heart of the Metaverse

As already mentioned, the very, very big feature of the Metaverse is its decentralization. There is no platform like Web 2.0. So no centralized Google, no centralized Facebook, etc. where everything runs on a company’s platform. Everything is completely decentralized.

In principle, each of us can create new worlds and spaces. For example, every person can decide with their avatar in which world, in which room, in which environment, in which social interaction they go, and with which other people or avatars they meet.

And this is completely independent of the platforms of the big tech companies.

The whole thing can always take place peer-to-peer, without anything or anyone – without an intermediary in between. You and I could communicate, interact, meet directly with each other in this metaverse. And this is where the next key topic comes into play: the blockchain.

The topic of the decentralized blockchain is already known from the area of cryptocurrencies (read also: real estate, gold, stocks? These are 2 further measures against inflation ). Here people interact, communicate and trade directly with each other without any bank, any intermediary, any state, any platform in between. It also gives us a huge opportunity to regain sovereignty over our data.

There are no limits to the creativity, dynamics, and a number of these Metaverse worlds. It’s a completely new, digital world overall. But in terms of social interactions, communication, economics, commerce, etc., the world is real – and not far removed from our physical world as we know it.

Make money in the Metaverse? Not that unrealistic at all

Due to the decentralized design, it may even be possible for every single person, i.e. you and me, to earn money in the Metaverse. As?

Nowadays, Facebook pixels or Google tracking are built into websites. Our complete surfing behavior is tracked with it. Who makes money from it? Not us, but the big tech companies.

The decentralized service on a blockchain does not belong to any company. Now, for example, you could agree to have your behavior tracked in the metaverse. With the condition that each of us earns money from advertisements that are displayed there.

Everything is suddenly controlled peer-to-peer in a decentralized manner, each individual has sovereignty over their data and can – if they wish – even benefit directly from it.

Perhaps with these developments, we are currently experiencing the greatest democratization in human history. At the same time, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the metaverse naturally also have a great potential for disruption:

Not only in the direction of companies but especially in the direction of the state with all its classic institutions such as banks, insurance companies, etc. It will be exciting to see what will happen here in the next 30 to 50 years. This development cannot be stopped…

Metaverse examples: This is what it might look like in practice

Let me put some images in your mind of what we can imagine when the Metaverse becomes a reality…

Opportunities in everyday life

Travel suddenly for everyone

Traveling is something that probably 95% of humanity on this planet these days cannot do. But consider the following possibility:

You go into the metaverse and can suddenly look at Neuschwanstein Castle. Inside, outside, everywhere. And that even when I’m in India.

This not only has the effect that you can suddenly travel around the world. It also has the effect that it is much more resource-efficient, much more sustainable, and ecological. More and more people on this planet can then experience other parts of the world.

Walks with friends who are far away

My absolute favorite use case and a real eye-opener for me: you can quickly make an appointment with friends who are far away. Maybe they are in Australia or the USA, in Hamburg or the Rhineland. No matter.

You just make an appointment in the Metaverse, go for a walk together and chat about everything and everything. You think about in which room, in which world you want to meet. Then our avatars go for a walk together. We beam ourselves digitally into this world, so to speak, and have a great time together!

Experience live concerts right in the middle

Imagine your favorite band is playing and you can be there. And not just like now, by watching a concert on the computer screen or the cell phone screen. But live in 3D. Right in the middle.

Telemedicine instead of full waiting rooms

A visit to the doctor may no longer be necessary. Because doctor and patient can meet in the metaverse and talk and interact with each other there.

At least, for example, many necessary steps before an important operation in the metaverse can be clarified. Maybe even investigations with devices that we have not even suspected so far.

An important point: Everything is more resource-saving and sustainable!

Opportunities for companies and our everyday work

Let’s take a look at what could be possible when it comes to business, teamwork, leadership…

Team meetings today via Zoom, soon in the shared metaspace

Meta room instead of meeting room:

The Covid-19 pandemic has probably also given the Metaverse a real boost. Suddenly so many more people are working digitally via zoom, teams, etc. Of course, we also know about the disadvantages. You just don’t sit together at a table.

And that’s exactly what a meta-space can solve. You sit down together at a table in the metaverse. It’s almost as if you were meeting live.

And probably there are many more advantages and possibilities. Just the thought of what software and tools you could integrate that you might not have at a live meeting.

Decentralization – the heart of the Metaverse

As already mentioned, the very, very big feature of the Metaverse is its decentralization. There is no platform like Web 2.0. So no centralized Google, no centralized Facebook, etc. where everything runs on a company’s platform. Everything is completely decentralized.

In principle, each of us can create new worlds and spaces. For example, every person can decide with their avatar in which world, in which room, in which environment, in which social interaction they go, and with which other people or avatars they meet.

And this is completely independent of the platforms of the big tech companies.

The whole thing can always take place peer-to-peer, without anything or anyone – without an intermediary in between. You and I could communicate, interact, meet directly with each other in this metaverse. And this is where the next key topic comes into play: the blockchain.

The topic of the decentralized blockchain is already known from the area of cryptocurrencies (read also: real estate, gold, stocks? These are 2 further measures against inflation ). Here people interact, communicate and trade directly with each other without any bank, any intermediary, any state, any platform in between. It also gives us a huge opportunity to regain sovereignty over our data.

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