Regarded as the next iteration of the internet, the metaverse is where the physical and digital worlds come together. As an evolution of social technologies, the metaverse allows digital representations of people, avatars, to interact with each other in a variety of settings. Whether it be at work, in an office, going to concerts or sports events, or even trying on clothes, the metaverse provides a space for endless, interconnected virtual communities using virtual reality (VR) headsets, augmented reality (AR) glasses, smartphone apps, or other devices.
The metaverse as a term was coined in Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other. In Stephenson's novel, the metaverse refers to a digital universe that can be accessed through VR. As a plot, it has been used in several works of science fiction, including the Matrix films, and served as a source of inspiration to the founders of Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated references to the metaverse throughout 2020 and 2021 saw the concept gain mass global attention.
Facebook rebrands as Meta
In October 2021, Facebook announced that it had changed its company name to Meta Platforms. The name change, which was announced at the Facebook Connect AR/VR conference, reflects the company’s growing ambitions beyond social media, notably bringing the metaverse to life. Social network Facebook and its other apps, such as Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp will remain but under Meta's umbrella. The company also remodeled its business segments and started reporting the financial results of its AR/VR business as Reality Labs, which saw a revenue of 2.3 billion U.S. dollars for the fiscal year 2021.
Meta’s AR/VR hardware developments
The company announced that it would be investing 10 billion U.S. dollars into its Reality Labs segment in 2021 – the metaverse division tasked with creating AR/VR hardware, software, and content. In August 2021, Facebook unveiled the VR service Horizon Workrooms, a virtual meeting room where people using VR headsets can gather as if they were at an in-person work meeting. In September, it announced a new line of eyewear with Ray-Ban which can record videos. At the October event, Meta teased details of Project Cambria, a future AR/VR headset that is more technically capable than current Oculus products. The company also pointed towards Project Nazare, the code name for their first full AR glasses.
Development of the metaverse will require collaboration across companies, creators, and policymakers. Continued investment in product innovation and tech talent will also be needed: Meta’s plans to create 10,000 high-skilled jobs in the European Union over the next five years to build the metaverse highlight this. Although Facebook’s name change may appear as ownership of the metaverse at this early stage, Zuckerberg himself has stated that no one company will own and operate the metaverse. Instead, it will act as a collective space, like the internet, with openness a key feature. Already, several companies including Microsoft, Roblox, and Epic are investing in their versions of the metaverse, supported by advancements in technology enablers such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), edge, and cloud computing.
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In the following 8 chapters, you will quickly find the 70 most important statistics relating to "Metaverse".