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A New Frontier or a Dystopian Nightmare?

Imagine every morning, you pick out an outfit for your avatar and head out in your virtual car to shop. Play games. Hang out with friends. Travel places.

Or, see yourself transported and connected in real-time to a dance studio. The instructor is wearing a motion-capture suit; his avatar showing you the same moves to other participants.

Perhaps walking on the street, you decide to consume art. Your brain-computer interface device transports you to inside the museum.

Welcome to the metaverse. The word “metaverse” is a portmanteau of the prefix “meta”, meaning beyond and “verse” refers to universe. Popularised by Snow Crash, a 1992 sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson, the metaverse refers to a blend of digital and physical existence. It is a collection of shared online worlds in which our physical, augmented, and virtual reality converge, enabling us to work, play and interact virtually in mixed reality.

The Fight For Dominance In The Metaverse

Big tech such as Facebook, Google, Roblox Corporation and Epic Games are scrambling for dominance in the metaverse mountaintop.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision is to transition to a ‘metaverse’ functioning in an “embodied internet” that converges Facebook’s major investments across augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), gaming, commerce and social networking into one virtual environment. The tech founder believes it will be interoperable, allowing consumers to easily teleport from one experience to another, without leaving the ecosystem.

“The defining quality of the metaverse is presence, which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place. Creation, avatars, and digital objects are going to be central to how we express ourselves, and this is going to lead to entirely new experiences and economic opportunities”, Zuckerberg told investors.

Not everyone agrees.

A Dystopian Future Of Technology Gone Wrong?

John Hanke, the founder and CEO of Niantic, the company famous for the creation of Pokemon GO likened such a virtual world to a “dystopian nightmare”. He wrote, “technology should be used to make these core human experiences better — not to replace them”. Niantic is working on building what it calls a ‘real-world metaverse’, one that overlays data, information, services, and interactive creations in the physical world.

“… I think we’ve seen the darker side of the technology now when it usurps the human stuff that we do, when it gets in between our relationships and all of our information and it takes the place of the town square or the neighbour or the walk in the park” reflects Hanke on the philosophical divide.

Gucci Garden Archetypes In The Roblox World

How are brands responding to the metaverse? In collaboration with Roblox, Gucci is a phenomenal example of how a luxury brand dips its toe into this realm of unknown by creating extraordinary experiences.

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