Updated: Aug 2
Past | Present | Future | Metaverse | 26th July 2022 | Virtual Wire
Currently, it seems as though our society is trudging through technological molasses, as demand piled up and Covid-19 blocked the door to supply for the past 3 years.
While technological advancement may seem to be coming to a grinding halt, there are some interesting experimental technologies on the other side of the door. Although Elon Musk’s integration of Steam into Tesla’s next lineup of cars may seem to be the next technological milestone for humanity, the manifestation of the metaverse may be the next revolutionary achievement for humanity, in terms of communication and commerce.
The metaverse itself is somewhat of an abstruse concept, but it is essentially the culmination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and the amalgamation of our physical reality and the digital world. The metaverse is essentially a digital world, where one can project their consciousness in order to interact with this new world and communicate with other real-world people, but in their digital avatars. The idea is truly groundbreaking. The metaverse is, quite literally, the digital Silk Road of the future. Imagine the millions of businessmen and women who are forced to embark on arduous journeys every day, repeatedly sleeping in one country and waking up in another. Imagine the thousands upon thousands of dollars that immigrants have to expend in order to see their family once every few years. Imagine the millions of cars, trains, and planes that are operating on a daily basis.
Although the concept of the metaverse was first born in 1838, Sir Charles Wheatstone’s concept of “binocular vision,” has recently gained popularity, in September of 2021, when Roblox announced its development of the metaverse. Then Facebook jumped on the metaverse train in late October and amplified the popularity while simultaneously killing any existing strand After Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook to Meta, Meta effectively spearheaded humanity’s advancement towards building the metaverse, piece by piece, until the fictitious form is brought into the world of nonfiction. In this article, we will scrutinize the history of the metaverse, its current developments, and what humanity is hoping to gain from it.
History of the Metaverse
As aforementioned, Sir Charles Wheatstone’s concept of “binocular vision” was the first step towards understanding the metaverse, as it delineated the process of consolidating two images, one for each eye, to create a 3D image. In other words, Wheatstone was describing the mechanics of today’s VR headsets. Almost a century later, a science fiction writer—named Stanley Weinbaum—published Pygmalion’s Spectacles, a book that detailed the experiences of a character who uses goggles to tap into a fictional world. Finally, humanity began making massive progress in its race toward the metaverse, as
Morton Heilig developed the world’s first VR machine in 1956. His Sensorama Machine was capable of generating a multisensory experience of riding a motorcycle through Brooklyn, by combining 3D video, audio, scents, and a vibrating chair.
MIT expanded upon VR technology by creating a smaller-scale version of Google Street View, in which their Aspen Movie Map would engage users in a virtual tour of Aspen, Colorado. However, the process of bringing the Movie Map to fruition was onerous, since the team of scientists had to attach film cameras to a car and fire them at every 10 feet of distance that had been passed, then the footage would miraculously be stored onto a laserdisc, and now they could begin creating the digital experience. First, the street footage was used to create a 2D map, which they could then program an interface with navigation buttons for users to travel wherever they wanted to. Eventually, the Movie Map would evolve to become the revolutionary piece of technology that merited the Golden Fleece Award in 1980.
Finally, the metaverse was born in 1982, when Neil Stevenson coined the term in his novel, “Snow Crash,” detailing a virtual place for characters to escape to and avoid the claws of a magisterial state. However, Stevenson has not remained silent about the resurgence of his metaverse, as he is currently working with several other crypto luminaries to launch his metaverse-focused blockchain: Lamina1. Currently, one of the best representations of the metaverse lies within gaming’s utilization of VR, and the first introduction of VR to gaming transpired in the 1990s when Sega introduced a multitude of VR arcade machines.
Unfortunately, VR would experience a drought of activity, until Palmer Luckey’s prototype Oculus Rift VR was developed in 2010 to serve as a necessary impetus to restimulate interest in the pursuit of the metaverse. Although Luckey would evanesce from the VR scene, his revolutionary headset would reignite the wave of interest that had died back in the 80s90s and ’90s. Facebook understood the value and potential that the Oculus Rift possessed, and its ability to generate the next technological revolution, so they acquired Oculus VR in a $2 billion deal and gradually built the Oculus platform from the ground up. In the same year 2014, Google released its AR glasses, Google Glass, along with its cheap VR viewer for smartphones, Cardboard. Meanwhile, Sony and Samsung also announced the development of their own VR headsets.
Microsoft’s 2016 launch of HoloLens headsets represented a substantial jump in the corporate race towards the metaverse, as it consolidated AR and VR by enabling us to project a holographic image into the real world and using augmented reality to manipulate it. In the same year, augmented reality’s popularity skyrocketed under the hundreds of millions of people that fueled Pokemon Go’s eminence. Although IKEA was not the first retailer to launch a Mixed Reality mobile app, the 2017 launch of IKEA Place was the launch of one of the most effective products using augmented reality. The success of IKEA Place is mostly attributed to its utilization of ARKit—Apple’s augmented reality framework that uses the phone’s motion sensors and cameras to overlay digital objects into the real world—which allows its users to place and examine the presence of IKEA products in their living room. Finally, we arrive at 2021, where we witnessed Facebook, Roblox, and several other companies dive into the metaverse and ignite the fire under humanity’s rocket into the metaverse.