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Metaverse 101: Web3, AR, VR, & More

November 29, 2022
5 min read

“Metaverse” is the word heard all over the universe. But what is it? Where did it start, and what does it entail? Who is in the metaverse?

Welcome to Metaverse 101. You’ve got questions about the metaverse, and we’ve got answers. Stick with us as we take you through a crash course on:

  • An Introduction to the Metaverse
  • Web3 (Web 3.0)
  • AR (augmented reality)
  • VR (virtual reality)
  • Other Aspects of the Metaverse

Intro to the Metaverse

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is an umbrella term for all different kinds of virtual worlds. Think of it as a digital parallel to our physical world. Some aspects of the metaverse are fully immersive, while others are digital elements added to the real world.

The metaverse does not only appear in video games; it is simply any type of reality that is alternate to our own.

A Short History of the Metaverse

The metaverse seemingly burst onto the scene in the past decade. Many attribute its origin to people like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, or Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus. But you might be surprised to learn that the metaverse existed long before these two took it to new heights.

Rumblings of alternative ways to see actual images began in the 1800s with the invention of the stereoscope.

A scientist named Charles Wheatstone created this device, which looks similar to the 3D glasses you’d wear in a movie theater. Each lens shows two separate but identical images — one in each eye — and converges them through the lenses to make one three-dimensional image.

This might not sound like the metaverse we think of today, but it is one of the first known accounts of creating an alternate reality through a visual device.

Now, we skip ahead a century. The term “metaverse” was coined in 1982 by science fiction author Neal Stephenson. In his novel, Snowcrash, human-like avatars jump back and forth between the real world and an alternate reality world.

Then, in the 90s, the (real) world was introduced to the magic of Sega and its virtual arcade games that allowed anyone to be a race car driver or a pilot.

From there, the floodgates opened, and we began to see virtual reality become more and more common — even in places, we might not realize.

Virtual reality has become ubiquitous, from the yellow yard marker on the field during NFL games to the immersive world of Ready Player One to the craze of Pokémon GO.

What Is Web3 (Web 3.0)?

Web3, or Web 3.0, is a blockchain-integrated internet that supports cryptocurrency and NFT technology. It aims to be more independent than the Internet we’ve known since its inception.

Quickly, we’ll go over Web1 and Web2 to understand how we got to Web3. Indeed, web1 and Web2 walked so Web3 could run.

Web1

Think of Web1 as the old-school Internet — the one full of AIM Instant Messenger, blogs, and maybe even the early days of online shopping (before pictures of the clothes rotated, had multiple models, or virtual try-on capabilities).

The Web 1.0 Internet was open to the public, known as open protocols, including HTTP, SMTP, and FTP.

Web2

Think of Web2 as the new school Internet — social media and YouTube. It is known as the place where users take content into their own hands.

This is the active Internet, where people began creating what they wanted to see rather than waiting for companies to do it.

Web3

Web3 is a ramped-up combination of Web1 and Web2, meaning that it adopts the open protocol-type infrastructure of Web1 with the participatory nature of Web2.

In the past, giant corporations have told users what to think, what to like, or what to buy. With Web3, power is in the hands of users.

Web3: A Real-World Example

Let’s use a real-world example to help conceptualize Web3 and its purpose.

In its traditional form, making music involves an artist signing with a record label and essentially becoming the property of that label. The artist must sing the songs the label tells them to and perform at the venues the label books.

Even though the artist is doing the work, the label is taking vast cuts of the profits. This is Web1 — the contracted artist as the passive user of the Internet.

In the age of YouTube and TikTok, artists can avoid the ownership of labels and gain fame by producing their content and building their fan base on these platforms.

Although the artist must work up to a certain following to make a profit, and the platform is still gaining money and recognition from the artist, the artist has the freedom to create as they please. This is Web2 — the artist is an active user of the Internet.

Now, imagine a world in which no record label or social media platform was taking a cut from the artist. The artist can build a community of fans all on their own, as well as a network that operates using cryptocurrency and incentives (like tokens) for fan interaction.

Eventually, the community could become so strong that it could finance a concert of its beloved artist without a record label or corporate company ever being involved. This is Web3 — the amalgamation of passive and active Internet.

Web 3.0: The Bottom Line

That was a lot to take in. And that’s okay because many aspects of the metaverse are ever-changing. To sum it up, Web3 is an Internet that seeks to give power to the people. It wants to cut out the corporate middleman and create a space for people to trade cryptocurrency and make their own platforms without someone else taking a cut of their creation.

AR (Augmented Reality)

Augmented reality combines digital elements with the real world. It is not a fully immersive experience; rather, it is meant to augment the world that we already see. At Illumix, we offer AR solutions for eCommerce and entertainment.

AR has become all the rage with companies trying to stay on the cutting edge of marketing. Creating interactive consumer experiences is a new way to boost brand engagement.

Nike created an AR experience when it launched a new Kyrie Irving shoe in 2021. Users could go to their local basketball court, hold up their phones to the court, and see an art gallery of shoes in front of their very eyes.

Illumix’s AR Virtual Try-On allows customers to see products on themselves before purchasing online. From new shoes to engagement rings, AR will enable customers to take the guessing game out of their purchasing process.

AR is highly accessible. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok have filters and presets that allow users to add almost anything they want. They can turn a simple selfie into a playful picture with dog ears or angel wings with the push of a button.

VR (Virtual Reality)

Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience that transports users from the real world into an entirely alternate universe. Generally, VR employs a headset, helmet, or goggles to help users dive into the virtual world.

When you put on a VR headset, you can be transported to new worlds and become someone new. Ever wanted to live out your dreams of becoming an astronaut? There’s a game for that. Did driving a fighter plane always seem far-fetched? Not anymore.

And VR has more “practical” use too. Companies like Win Reality help baseball and softball players train by creating a virtual reality world where they can practice seeing different pitchers and the pitches they throw in real-time and speed.

Other Aspects of the Metaverse

It might seem impossible that there could be even more realities than we’ve already covered. But with the internet and technology, possibilities are endless.

Other aspects of the metaverse include

  • MR (mixed reality): a combination of AR and VR where digital objects exist in the real world
  • XR (extended reality): technology that enhances the senses and can be a combination of AR, VR, and MR
  • AI (artificial intelligence): machines that can operate, in some form, on their own
  • Digital currency: an electronic currency that only operates via the Internet
  • Social media

The Takeaway

With all that information to soak in, the takeaway is that the metaverse is the virtual world and is here to stay.

As it evolves, there will be more to learn and more opportunities to participate.

There is a place for everyone in the metaverse, whether you want to trade cryptocurrency, create your own community, or enter an entirely alternate reality.

If you’re interested in learning more about the metaverse and AR technologies, check out the rest of our site.

Here at Illumix, we specialize in building dynamic AR experiences that can enhance your brand. We’ve done the heavy lifting already. Contact us to learn how we can help.

Sources:

A Short History of the Metaverse ⎸ Forbes

What Is Web3? ⎸ The New York Times

What is Augmented Reality (AR) | Microsoft Dynamics 365

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