Lately the phrase "Metaverse" has become as common-place as it is mysterious. It seems everybody has something to say about it, but without existing information of what it is it is hard to determine how we could expect it to change our day-to-day lives, if at all. Bothered by this elusive buzz word we decided to dive in, find some answers and opinions, and write up a quick guide on the past, present, and possible future of this spreading lingo.
What: The Metaverse is most simply understood as a virtual 'space' that exists within the internet and offers new ways to engage with the entertainment, education, and socializing we have all come to expect from our always-online world.
Who: While the term appears in science fiction works as early as the 1992 novel "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson, the concept as it is being realized now comes from tech CEOs such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg or Microsoft's Satya Nadella. With The Metaverse playing the part of the next evolution of the internet it can be expected all online commerce and service will eventually have an expression within the space.
When: Some predictions have large portions of people using the metaverse to fulfill work or educational obligations, with still others spending the majority of their waking life "jacked in" by 2030. However, some early expressions of the virtual space are already available to folks, with some treating it like a video game and others trying to take advantage of the Reality+ features the tech tries to offer in VR socializing, and other user-generated environments and ideas to explore.
Where: You can access The Metaverse from your own home using a VR Headset and internet connection. The places you "go" once you are hooked in are seemingly endless with more added each day. Some content you create for yourself to use or for others to visit. These "Visiting" options are how the Metaverse will grow into a place where users will engage with one another and companies as they increase their involvement in the tool.
Why: The nature of tech is often to grow and evolve into every shape with those supported by the public surviving and the rest dying away or continuing down the long road of evolution. The Metaverse comes as the natural expression of our tech catching up to our imagination, but also in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic sending us all home for 2 years. With people already spending more time online for business and pleasure the Metaverse will become a way to simulate substantiality in our connections moving forward. But ultimately the "why" will be answered by each user who logs in and each business who finds a way to get in on the conversation.
So, like in the early days of dreaming about what could be accomplished with a "World Wide Web," the possibilities do seem endless, the gold rush has started, and many aspects of our culture will need to decide if they will keep up, catch up, or forge their own path.
When we think about ways the auto industry could adapt this new technology it does not take long to imagine virtual showrooms folks can visit from the comfort of their own home to meet with salespeople also in their own homes. Imagine fully virtual tours of vehicles, so that the attendees can go so far as to shrink down and walk the corridors of the inner workings of engines, both iconic and upcoming. We have faith the creativity, ingenuity, and courage found throughout the auto industry will someday make the Metaverse yet another tool in an already expansive collection.