The metaverse is here. Depending on who you ask, it’s the next internet, a video game, a virtual reality, a marketplace for crypto and NFTs, a lofty concept, or just a hyped buzzword.

But what is the metaverse? What do you need to know about it? Why does it matter for your business? We’ll shed some light on these topics below.

What is the Metaverse?

The term metaverse was coined in 1992 by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson in his book, “Snow Crash.” Although not named specifically, the concept has been employed in pop culture in films like “The Matrix” trilogy and more recently in “Ready Player One.” In both films, the characters enter a virtual world to escape from a dystopian reality.

Metaverse typically refers to the loosely defined idea of a virtual space where users operate avatars of themselves that are powered by both augmented reality (AR), where the user interacts with a combination of real and virtual worlds, and virtual reality (VR), in which the user does not interact with the real world at all but is fully immersed in the virtual world.

To a certain extent, talking about what “the metaverse” means is a bit like discussing what “the internet” meant in the 1970s. As the building blocks of the new form of communication were being laid down, it sparked speculation about what it would look like and how people would use it. Everyone was talking about it, but few knew what it really meant or how it would work.

Mentally replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace.” Ninety percent of the time, the meaning won’t substantially change. “The metaverse is a 3D version of the Internet and computing at large,” Mathew Ball, an angel investor and venture capitalist who’s written several essays about the potential and structures of the metaverse.

What You Need to Know About the Metaverse

At its core, the idea of the metaverse is a place parallel to the physical world, where the user can spend their digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. Some also argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t actually exist yet.

“It’s not real at this stage, and won’t become real until people have a single location they can go to to get into a virtual world they could live in,” Ibrahim Baggili, a cybersecurity expert and the founding director of the Connecticut Institute of Technology at the University of New Haven.

Why Does the Metaverse Matter?

Given its high-value projection, the metaverse is touted as a major player in growing the digital economy. “The metaverse will grow the digital economy, which is the primary growth driver of the world economy,” said Ball.

But while the metaverse is already being seen as the future of entertainment, fashion, gaming, and even partying, experts are currently arguing that its best-case use scenario will likely be for education.

“Just like how you’d understand dissection much better by actually performing it rather than just reading about it, 3D-based education is likely to be much better than, say, schooling over Zoom,” Ball said. 

In terms of business implications, one thing is for sure – any continued development in the creation of a metaverse will significantly increase the amount of data that will be created, managed, and stored. This is great news for Data Centers and all kinds of data storage providers. After all, an entire digital ecosystem will require an incredible amount of information to be consistently available to users all over the world. 

The Future of the Metaverse

Some experts believe “a large proportion of people will be in the metaverse in some way” by 2030. But despite the current obsession with it, the idea still needs a lot of work to reach any kind of widespread, practical implementation in our lives.