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What is Metaverse and What Does It Include?

What is the Metaverse and What Does it Include?

Dwight Pavlovic
Reading time: 7 minutes
The concept of a "metaverse" may sound like science fiction or just another techie buzzword, but it has potentially significant implications. It even prompted a high-profile rebrand for social media giant Facebook, changing its corporate identity to Meta in fall 2021. However, the metaverse isn’t necessarily new and has roots in early 2000s experiences like Second Life.
To define “metaverse” is a slightly complex task. Typically, the term describes an interactive and connected experience. But we can also use the term to talk about the future of connected devices and online interactions. With that perspective, it’s easy to see that we may have access to many different metaverses created by different companies with different goals.
We’ll explore the ins and outs of a metaverse and discuss the technology that helps mediate these virtual worlds.

What is a metaverse?

As of this writing, a typical metaverse is an interactive 3D world, and the concept’s roots are in science fiction. Author Neal Stephenson actually coined the term in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, where he used it to describe a next-generation version of the internet. He wasn’t far off because the concept of a metaverse intersects with gaming, information technology, and 3D rendering.
Gaming may be important to “the metaverse” and how it evolves, but it’s not the only field with a heavy stake. Expectations for the metaverse continue to grow as developers and creators offer additional improved services to access it. Likewise, it all leads to a more connected world, which resembles Meta’s vision for the internet of the future.

The implications for you and me

According to The New York Times, the term metaverse “describes a fully realized digital world that exists beyond the one in which we live.” This is the sense in which most readers – as well as Meta and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg – use the expression.
That’s because the metaverse can encompass just about anything. It may be more important to online games and social networks that exist in a virtual space, but it can also have real-life connotations.
What does that mean? Imagine shopping in virtual reality or attending a conference in an entirely digital space. Even now, Horizon Workrooms is facilitating meetings using VR headsets.

The metaverse and gaming

Metaverse and Gaming
The growing gaming industry is one of the primary motivations for new developments in this space. As an example, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the following about the metaverse and gaming:
“It is about being able to put people, places, things [in] a physics engine and then having all the people, places, things in the physics engine relate to each other. You and I will be sitting on a conference room table soon with either our avatars or our holograms or even 2D surfaces with surround audio. Guess what? The place where we have been doing that forever… is gaming.”
Prominent video game developer and publisher Epic Games has made significant investments to build their own “meta” ecosystem. Players spend a lot of time in popular Epic titles like Fortnite. With its own metaverse, Epic could make its own titles easier to access and streamline interactions for players. That means more services for players, and more opportunities for Epic to showcase in-house offerings.
There’s also the fact that the concept of a metaverse may have started with the computer “experience” (and not game, as insisted by its developers) known as Second Life. Second Life incorporates many of the core features of a metaverse: “a digital world that exists beyond the one in which we live.”
The 2018 movie Ready Player One also featured its own metaverse in the form of the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (OASIS). The OASIS was developed in the film’s narrative as a total-immersion gaming system.

How do you interact with the metaverse?

The popularity of online gaming has spurred new developments for the metaverse, especially improvements to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) hardware. This hardware makes the metaverse experience more immersive. It will only continue to feel more “real” as the tech gets better.
Both AR and VR depend on hardware for processing power, whether it’s a desktop PC or a smartphone. It’s worth noting that AR is less resource-intensive, so smaller devices like smartphones can support it.
The future will reveal the importance of AR and VR because the history of the metaverse is mostly unwritten. But each will play a role, regardless of how different trends or business plans pan out.

1. Augmented reality

Augmented reality provides an enhanced interaction with the real world by using a device, like a smartphone, to place visual elements into your field of view. You may know it best for games like Pokémon Go, but training and medical applications utilize it, too.
In gaming, AR’s visual additions may be targets or landmarks. In other applications, some companies use AR devices like Google Glass to help employees collaborate, improve efficiencies, and increase productivity.
Another great example is product previews, such as Amazon’s Room Decorator system. Simply use your smartphone to see how a new kitchen island or dining table will look in your house before you buy.

2. Virtual reality

No metaverse definition would be complete without a thorough look at the concept of virtual reality and VR headsets in particular. VR provides a simulated experience, though not all elements (like your voice) are necessarily computer generated. In most instances, a VR experience’s depth depends on the power of the hardware.
The dependence on power is why AR has developed so quickly for mobile applications, where the required processing power and wearable gear are much less intense. To have a VR experience with sensory feedback for the user, you also need more than a headset or eyepieces – you need hand accessories, too.
Similar to AR, VR has extensive practical uses, including surgical and even military applications. Plus, it’s becoming a more affordable avenue for gaming with newer, lower-priced devices.

3. Connected devices for VR and AR

HP Reverb G2 VR Headset
The most immersive VR experiences are mostly restricted to niche applications and premium gaming setups. Still, there are changes on the horizon thanks to a growing number of accessible options. New products are also bringing VR into the workplace, with features to support designers, engineers, and educators.
The HP Reverb G2 is a great example that’s affordably priced, streamlined, and comfortable. It’s designed as a Windows Mixed Reality headset and features 4 total cameras for greater sensitivity. It also boasts industry-leading resolution at 2160 x 2160 and 9.3 million pixels per eye.
The HP Reverb G2 was developed alongside the Valve Corporation (the developers of Steam) and offers a top-tier gaming experience. In addition to high resolution, it has a 144-degree field of view and superior controller tracking. The headset’s facemask is cushioned and adjustable to fit users as comfortably as possible and is intended for users age 13 and up.
As of this writing, new VR developments center on new and updated headsets. Some are standalone and you can use them without a hardware connection. Others require you to connect to a console or desktop PC, especially those that need the most power. You can always test the waters, too, with Google Cardboard. This rudimentary VR experience even comes with developer tools, so anyone can start building VR worlds – with the right know-how, of course.
These console and computer-based VR experiences will likely require lots of processing power for the foreseeable future, but AR is in a league of its own. As mentioned, all you need is a smartphone to catch a pocket monster down the street or plant virtual flowers in Pikmin Bloom.


One of the most important things to remember about the metaverse is its social dimension. A metaverse is fundamentally a way for people to connect. But it’s more than just a way to chat with friends you may already have because it allows you to interact with those you may not actually know in real life beyond texts or video messages.
It’s also important to remember that the concept of the metaverse is still new in the world of tech. But as it continues to develop and grow, the technology associated with it will improve in kind. As we learn more about the metaverse and what it means, expect to see better, more immersive AR and VR tech, too.
Questions about “the metaverse” can be complicated. The exact parameters of an all-encompassing digital world are yet to be determined. But its scope is clear: to connect.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

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