In a very short span, the metaverse has evolved to be such a behemoth. Initially originated as just an idea in 1992, it has extensively progressed ever since. Simply put, it is an alternate reality in which the virtual and physical worlds converge to coin a metaphor for the real world.
Needless to say, the metaverse has made a colossal stir among technophiles and innovators such as Mark Zuckerberg as well as the entire Silicon Valley. Ever since its launch in 2003, it has become a buzzword and blasted as a result of innumerable interested investors. Not only the landscape of gaming but several other industries such as media, entertainment, healthcare have been immensely hit by this new technological wave and its unique characteristics. For example, online games such as Fortnite have already started to imbibe metaverse elements to provide immersive and other-worldly experiences to their huge user-base.
And ever since the pandemic engulfed the entire world, people have enclasped the internet as their primary source of social life. As a result, the virtual world is constantly evolving and shaping up even faster. A plethora of megatrends around the metaverse has come about as the world adopts, embraces, and diversifies the futuristic landscape.
In this article, we will take a brief look at some of the biggest trends that are constructing the future of the metaverse. Let’s begin.
1- Virtual Mainstreaming
More often than not, people consider the virtual world to be as real as the physical world.
In the physical world, relationships and institutions function on trust. It is the cornerstone of businesses flourishing within legal systems, continuous operation of our money market and a form of measure for our connections. Trust is the key factor in making each of these systems scalable.
As trust continues to grow in the “virtual” realm — with online friends, virtual items and crypto assets, smart contracts, and live online experiences — there are high chances of increase in the scalability of the metaverse and the industries that support it.
But a large trend is always followed by a countertrend. With numerous people valuing the virtual world more, the nefarious nexus who seek to exploit it are also in the race.
Cybercrime is one example that many people are already familiar with: which includes phishing to steal your accounts, various online frauds, ransomware attacks and spreading malware. Online bullying, abuse, cheating in games are also rampantly increasing as people believe virtual relationships and property to be real.
As a solution, products alone will not solve these problems. Several walks of life education, training, virtual literacy, and supportive communities are the need of the hour.
2- Low-code Platforms
Low-code and no-code application platforms (LCAP) provide higher-level abstractions such as visual scaffolding and drag-and-drop tooling to replace the hand-coding of processes, logic and applications.
This particular trend allows non-programmers to do some of the work that programmers previously did. Another benefit of LCAP is the large amount of automation that happens underneath the visual layer: the automation of workflow, deployment, security, scaling, and integration with various data endpoints. Often, this complexity and scaling is what takes up the bulk of developing Internet applications.
It will not only be a shift in who does the work, but a massive reduction in the quantity of work required to create applications.
In a forecast by Gartner, over 50% of large enterprises will use LCAPs to operate at least part of their infrastructure by 2023..
Similarly, many of these developers are moving towards a serverless architecture — servers that you don’t need to deploy, manage or code yourself. On the flip side of the enterprise, you see an increasing number of creator tools that make it easy to create metaverse content, script complex behaviours, and participate in commerce.
With the passage of time, the metaverse will increasingly be built by a wider population of creators and supported by a deeper catalogue of plug-in applications and logic.
3- Machine Intelligence
Safe to say that machines have replaced humans as they are doing more of the jobs that were previously done by human beings. This spans over several domains like deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
In today’s world, advertising messages, merchandising and online engagement are tuned by learning algorithms. We are in the first innings of natural language processing and image recognition and slowly walking towards applications such as autonomous vehicles. 91.5% of the world’s most important companies are already investing in machine learning, automation, and artificial intelligence.
In the metaverse, machine intelligence combines with every other trend you see here.
It will affect creativity, as computers become collaborators in the creative process — just look at how AI Dungeon generates stories, or how Promethean AI can set up a virtual landscape — and imagine how much further this will come over the coming decade.
AI will help design the microchips that power the metaverse, and generate code to assist programmers. Machines will read and interpret gestures, predict where our eyes look, recognize emotions and even the firing of our neurons.
Machine intelligence will be an inevitable part of our no-code and low-code application platforms, where they’ll operate as part of the service architecture as well as design advisors.
Agents equipped by our preferences and interests will provide the information we want, when we want it. And virtual beings will eventually populate the worlds we visit.
4- Rise of Cybernetics
Cybernetics have already arrived. Although they haven’t yet amassed the limelight as they are not as evenly distributed nor as developed and amazing as they will be in the future.
Let us decode cybernetics for you. It is all about the integration of human sensory and motor systems with computers such as videogame input/output devices, wearables, mobile phone accelerometers, and VR headsets.
We are living in a world where miniaturization and high-speed networking have transitioned devices from stationary workstations to mobile supercomputers in our pockets.
Now, we don’t look at computers from an outside perspective instead as a future where we’ll occupy virtual space and live in a world where computing is all around us.
Light field technology may even allow us to project photons — with their accompanying depth of field — to the retina, allowing your eye to focus on different parts of a virtual scene, resulting in a truly holographic experience.
All of these devices will slowly interpret our voice instructions, gestures and biometrics. And neural interfaces may even allow the devices to understand our intentions — maybe even faster than we know ourselves.
The end result? The metaverse will not simply be a place we go into. It will be everywhere around us.
And the amalgamation of wearable and mobile technology is not one simple technology, rather it is a social change. It is bound to change the organization of our homes, public transit, neighborhoods and workplaces. It will alter how you meet people, order a meal, discover the world, and collaborate on projects.
5- Challenges by Open Systems
The earliest intent of the Internet was a highly distributed, decentralized network of interoperable computers and applications. But what we see in the Internet of today is the domination of several large platforms that act as gatekeepers and toll booths.
As a silver lining, technology and open standards are emerging that may democratize the future of the metaverse.
WebAssembly (Wasm) ensures to deliver fast, safe, sandboxed binary applications for the open web. Several platforms like Unity Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS) are taking advantage of these technologies to deliver compact, efficient binaries that perform at the level the metaverse will demand.
Open Systems can also be called a social phenomenon, because they enable widespread collaboration between software engineering projects.
Open Source and open platforms like Wasm can maximize the number of potential collaborators, creating more value than all of the permissioned platforms combined.
Similarly, people may regain control over their own data using technologies such as zero-knowledge proofs and decentralized digital identity systems. This could help encourage consumers to trust more of their personal data to Internet applications — simply because they don’t need to trust anyone.
There is a huge potential for an exponential lift in network effects, if we can give the freedom to applications and data to do so.
6- Blockchain Adoption
Blockchain is for assets and data just as Open Source and Open Internet is for software and applications. A distributed ledger technology, blockchains allow for trustless data exchanges; decentralized authority, a record of history and provenance, provable scarcity of assets. With decentralisation in its core, a blockchain allows for permissionless participation, or governance through a decentralized autonomous organization aka DAO.
The world has spent $6.6 billion on blockchain solutions in 2021.
Programmability is a key utility of blockchains. While all blockchains do not have inherent programmability, it’s a key aspect of Ethereum and other “smart contract” chains.
Why is this so important? It’s the network effects again. The more nodes that can participate in the network, the higher the value of the network, and as groups can form around certain activities (games, financial legos, etc.), the value of the network is increased further per Reed’s Law.
The value contribution is huge and exponential. More individuals would lead to more applications and more components to assemble from equals, eventually converting into more smart contracts, and more decentralized applications.
In simple terms, blockchains are considered “trustless” as you don’t need to trust any one authority; the trust is in the blockchain itself.
By 2022, worldwide spending on blockchain solutions will reach $11.7 billion.
Network effects have already carved the way for on-chain data feeds (oracles) that are used as conditions in smart contracts. All of this together has given rise to decentralization of lending, finance, and asset exchanges. The rise of blockchain computing might replace some aspects of cloud computing; and the rise of non-fungible assets is likely to become the basis of virtual goods in an emerging generation of games, avatar customizations and metaverse experiences.
Put all these developments together and it is just the beginning of the possibilities when you unleash assets, data and programmable contracts into the open Internet.
7- Walled Garden Ecosystems
Walled Gardens — quite an intriguing term, isn’t it? But it incurs a huge benefit from all of the other megatrends that impact the metaverse.
As a matter of fact, not every application or every world will be open. Majority of the time, a platform or application is a summation of permission, integration, curation, and control. A case in point — Roblox, an ensemble of these features.
Ironically, walled gardens also yield benefit from the open systems that challenge them. Wondering how? They utilize the same open-source and blockchains as anyone else, and many customers may feel safer inside them.
Walled gardens aren’t a problem, instead too few walled gardens is the problem of the current ecosystem. Keeping in mind the present spectrum of time, it should be easy for you to create your own walled garden and invite other creators to participate, add, modify and interconnect according to the rules you’ve defined.
With more and more walled gardens popping up, a question is how each will be discovered. Hierarchical discovery systems such as Roblox function as a “YouTube for games,” driven by search and popularity. With people being fond of curation and developers needing access to large audiences, this will continue.
But methods for portable avatars, portable social networks, and interoperability are on the horizon — and this may network together various walled gardens using open platforms while sparking new opportunities for discovery and curation.
In the near future, you can predict having a hypermedia-like structure where portals network different worlds and experiences together — the virtual worlds equivalent of hyperlinks on web pages. Hyperportals for the metaverse?
8- Accelerating Distributed Networks
5G networks have become the talk of the town as they are here to improve mobile networking speeds, concurrency and latency by orders of magnitude. Soon to enter is 6G that will improve these metrics by another 10–100X.
Thinking how all of this would be beneficial for the metaverse? Well, these accelerating speeds are the prerequisites to support the metaverse, but it is really the network effects that occur when all of the participants in the network share real-time data that offers some of the most interesting applications.
Now, the local network layer is no longer the bottleneck, the focus will shift towards moving more computing power directly to the “far” edge of the network. Sometimes this could be at the local cell tower or inside your home, where information will be preprocessed and available on your cybernetic devices.
Much of the AI that powers applications will happen on the edge, as it will be too slow to process everything in a remote/centralized manner. The future requires that the constellation of local computing devices and data feeds interoperate quickly. This will sometimes mean prediction at the edge, for applications in the metaverse where predictions of behaviors and physics are accurate enough.
9- Simulating Reality
For years, ‘shader programming — a collection of hacks’ has been used to generate real-time imagery in every game with 3D graphics.
Another technique named real-time raytracing is on the way. Data will also come from an exponentially-increasing number of feeds from the physical world. This includes geospatial data and traffic data; digital twins of physical objects instrumented to report all of their properties, oracles that report financial data to smart contracts; and real-time data about people and processes.
We won’t simply have an Internet of Things — we’ll have an Internet of Everything — integrated with predictive analytics, AI and real-time visualization.
These innovations will enable a metaverse that can layer over and predict the real-world — while also powering the next generation of games based on actual physics — more beautiful and immersive than anything experienced thus far.
Metaverse is here to stay and shall continue to revamp all the industries with the power of megatrends. Often referred to as the concept that people are living in a virtual world, where the lines between reality and virtual reality are blurred. It is accelerating and gaining momentum with every passing day.
Rising Capital has been the torchbearer of promoting business ventures with a unique approach towards the domain of metaverse. If you are associated with any such business venture that offers a unique proposition to metaverse, then you must apply here and we’ll be happy to take things forward.