The Facebook metaverse

Facebook Metaverse Explained: How Could it Shape Our Future?

Facebook started off in 2004, as a platform designed for college students. Over the years it has evolved into the world’s largest social networking site, that allows individuals to connect with family and friends online. With Facebook’s unwavering commitment to social innovation, Mark Zuckerberg announced their plans during the Facebook Connect 2021, to create a virtual world to remove all borders between communication, otherwise known as the Facebook metaverse.

Their announcement sparked massive interest in the metaverse and the possibilities it had to offer. By utilizing virtual reality and augmented reality, the metaverse provides users with the opportunity to step into an immersive ‘virtual world’, where they can interact with friends, family and other individuals without worrying about the constraints of location. 

Meta aims to transform the way users interact, socialize, shop, play and more through their platform. Avatars have been around for quite a while, and Facebook aims to enable users to utilize them as a virtual representation of their physical selves. 

Digital currencies also play a pivotal role in this virtual space as all transactions are happening digitally. This speaks volumes about the importance of cryptocurrency and the Blockchain in this era of technological innovation.

The Metaverse will incorporate economics, digital identities, decentralized government, and other uses in facilitating games and social networking. This world allows users to feel teleportation from one place to another, such as from one store to any clothing section or market for purchasing virtual items. Because of its enormous scale and ability to maintain data such as objects, identities, entitlements, interactions, payments, history, etc., the Metaverse is unique in its own right.

Various businesses have already taken steps to cement their presence on the metaverse, for e.g. Nike, Air Jordans, and Walmart are planning to sell virtual products in online stores using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency. Other initiatives besides CEEK and Sandbox push the boundaries of the Metaverse, and more venture capitalists (VCs) are joining the fray daily to secure a prime position in this technological revolution.

What is Facebook Metaverse (Meta)

Facebook’s metaverse home base is called ‘Horizon Home’. On June 10th 2022, Mark Zuckerburg announced that Horizon Home will now be available to Quest 2 users. The announcement instantly became viral, because the possibility of an interactive virtual space seemed more real than ever before!

The video announcement showed Mark Zuckerberg with Alex Honnold (A very popular free climber). In the video, Mark and Alex are using their VR setups to have a conversation within the Horizon Home setup. They were able to interact using their customized avatars, which made the whole experience very surreal. The video then panned to a video of Alex climbing a cliff with a full 360-degree view. This proved that users have options to switch to environments of their choosing, which seems very exciting!

However, it is important to remember that this is still a work in progress. There is a long way to go before users can start building custom environments to interact in, but we definitely know it’s going to happen soon.

Think of the Facebook Metaverse as your own personal space to interact with your friends from across the world. Zuckerberg also explained that Meta is looking into synchronizing touch and myoelectric sensors with the VR equipment to be able to feel things within the metaverse, which further enhances the entire experience!

Gamers have been exploring the exciting world of virtual reality for quite a while now, but it is very quickly becoming a common norm to use virtual reality. You can be a part of Facebook Metaverse by joining any of the new features that meta has promised, such as Horizon home. You can even select the type of environment you want, such as joining a graphic designer club or any dance club. It’s all up to you.

A Brief History of Facebook Metaverse

Facebook’s first step towards establishing the Facebook Metaverse was back in 2014, when the company acquired the leading VR company at the time, Oculus for $2 billion. The deal included providing 23.1 million Facebook shares and $400 million in cash (The Facebook shares were valued at $1.6 billion at the time). Facebook also provided the further incentive of cash and stock bonuses if certain milestones were met. 

Being the leading provider of virtual reality technology at the time, the Oculus team had already obtained a large number of orders (75000) for its Oculus Rift headset. Facebook’s foresight in seeing the potential of VR at an early stage helped them prepare for the metaverse as it is today.

Even then Zuckerberg stated that they were getting ready for the platforms of the future, with Oculus playing a pivotal role in making an immersive social platform. Since 2014, Facebook has been on a mission to change the way we interact, communicate and play games. 

The potential for the Facebook Metaverse doesn’t stop there, individuals will eventually be able to take virtual reality classes, attend Broadway shows, and concerts, host virtual parties and more! At the time of acquisition, the CEO of Oculus stated that by collaborating with the talented Facebook team, they can transform in ‘magical’ new ways.

Oculus is one of the pillars of the facebook metaverse.

The Portfolio of the Facebook Metaverse

Facebook has been quietly working on establishing and acquiring several Metaverse-related projects to improve the Facebook Metaverse experience. While Meta claims to support creators, reports indicate that Meta plans on taking nearly 50% of sales made within the Facebook Metaverse.

This has caused a certain amount of hesitation amongst brands to work with the social media giant. Facebook also recently announced that users will be able to purchase branded clothes for their digital avatars from companies like Prada soon on Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. 

1. The Horizon Metaverse Experience:

Facebook Metaverse’s early idea for your home in the Metaverse is Horizon Metaverse. It will be launched shortly as an upgrade to the current home experience. It’s a communal area where you can invite friends to hang out, watch films and more! In the future, Facebook Metaverse will make it simpler for everyone to create and customize their place since we want it to feel like your home.

Not only that but in the Connect 2021 announcement, users were informed that they would be able to work within their homes as well. Services such as Dropbox, Slack and many more will soon be able to work within VR – just to maintain that aura of connectivity with the outside world. There are also new personal workspace environment options that are going to be made to allow users to switch to a professional environment.

2. VR Fitness

According to Meta, the fitness industry is prepared to use cutting-edge technology like virtual reality to make working out enjoyable. In many respects, the Metaverse has already captivated the public’s interest. As more individuals prefer virtual surroundings to actual gyms (especially in the aftermath of the pandemic), devices like Meta Quest 2 may become your go-to workout equipment.

Plans for physical activities will be included in Facebook’s Metaverse, as demonstrated by the recent release of the Active Pack for Quest 2. The Metaverse Active Pack from Facebook will consist of redesigned touch controller grips.

3. Metaverse Gaming Hunt

According to experts, gaming platforms are more suitable for navigating the metaverse voyage. The gaming sector already has a devoted user base for virtual surroundings, 3D settings, and fantasy realms.

The Oculus has made large strides in bringing gaming into the metaverse. With VR games such as Ghost Giant and Zenith, users have been able to familiarize themselves with the vast potential of VR. Meta also announced that GTA: San Andreas is also now in development for Quest 2. Imagine walking down your favorite GTA streets, exploring from a first-person perspective. This announcement has a lot of gaming fans excited!

4. VR Messenger Calls

In 2021, Meta introduced the option to quickly message friends from inside the headset. Meta has further envisioned moving past the texts to audio calls, to be able to travel to VR destinations together instantly – simply by making a call. 

5. The Presence Platform:

The development team at Meta also announced their progress in developing the Presence Platform. This system allows machines to perform critical tasks such as understanding scenes, creating spatial anchors (that allow users to find nearby content within the virtual space) and more! The developers also announced their efforts in working on more voice related inputs, to make the process of exploring even easier. These features help shape user experiences immensely. 

6. Spark AR:

Because of several thousand Spark AR creators, AR is a growing medium for expression and connection. Facebook Metaverse is working on Spark AR Creator tools that can be used in a digital world. Brands and users can utilize Spark AR to create online virtual ‘sparks’ to shape experiences in augmented reality. For example, the ‘Coachellaverse’ is the perfect example of utilizing Spark AR to create augmented reality-based experiences.

7. Investment in Education

Meta’s vision for a brighter future ties into their efforts into creating excellent educational experiences. By realizing that the future of the internet lies in virtual worlds,  Facebook has launched a $150 million program to train the next generation of producers who will create immersive instructional material.

Additionally, Facebook Metaverse collaborates with game engine developer Unity to assist users in developing the skills necessary to produce outstanding AR and VR content. Facebook Metaverse is working to bring incredible experiences to reality by collaborating with institutions like VictoryXR and Byjus.

The Future Of The Facebook Metaverse

The goal of Facebook has always been to provide unhindered social connectivity and with their massive decision to take a step into the metaverse space, they’ve solidified their vision of borderless social connections. 

While some are very critical of the metaverse and the opportunities it provides, it would be very unwise to not understand the different possibilities that it provides for earning. Businesses can harness the true potential of the metaverse by connecting with their target audience at the places they’re going to be in, i.e. the Facebook Metaverse.

Avatars are going to play an extremely important role in the user experience, with Zuckerberg emphasizing the fact that the avatars can customize their clothes, appearance, and even their body shape. Users can choose to look more like themselves or create an alternate virtual reality appearance for themselves. By giving users the ability of what to wear and how to look, Zuckerberg aims to make the entire experience more interactive. For example, you can dress up to go to a party or change into formal attire for a meeting. The possibilities are endless!

While many consider Facebook’s efforts as trying to monopolize the Metaverse, Zuckerberg has aptly emphasized that the metaverse is so vast, that it cannot possibly be owned by one entity.  Plus the level of scrutiny that Meta has to deal with in regards to user data privacy, security and more have hindered acquisitions and have slowed down progress.

However, these things are also extremely important as no user would be comfortable signing up for a platform where their data is not secure. 

The team at Meta is also working with Oculus to create better hardware for a more immersive holistic experience for users. By pairing the VR headsets with sensors, Meta aims to enable users to interact with objects in virtual reality by holding them and getting feedback in real life using sensors.

This is no small feat as imitating the sense of touch is going to require tons of research and calibration. But it is entirely possible, thanks to the Facebook Metaverse Team. A new touch sensor paired with a plastic material that imitates ‘skin’ has been developed by collaborating with scientists from Carnegie Mellon University. The plastic is less than 3mm thick, thus making it extremely lightweight. 

The way the sensor works is that when the user comes in contact with a surface, the magnetic fields change and provide feedback to an AI software that determines what type of feedback it should provide to the user. By pairing this hardware with the right AI, users will be able to fully experience ‘touch’ in the virtual space. 

Meta is also currently exploring the NFT space to allow digital assets such as artwork, designs and more to be registered on the Blockchain – including for ways to create NFTs. This however is an evolving development where employees have suggested the possibility of using NFTs as membership tokens. Monetization options are also being worked on to allow user-based earnings. Users can utilize tools to create assets such as avatars and sell them on Facebook Marketplaces.

In 2019, Facebook announced Libra a government-backed cryptocurrency – that faced severe criticism from political parties. When partners abandoned the project, Facebook renamed the crypto ‘Diem’ in 2020 and tried to peg the virtual currency to the U.S. dollar. However, with several regulatory concerns, the stablecoin was removed in January.

A Quick Reality Check

While all may appear fine on the outside, the numbers for Facebook users state otherwise. With changes in Apple’s privacy policy greatly impacting how ads work on the platform, and the rise of competitors such as TikTok, Facebook is now losing more active users than ever before.

Meta Reality Labs also posted a huge loss of $10 billion dollars in the last year. However, according to Zuckerburg, the process of making the Facebook Metaverse a reality is going to take much more financial losses over the next couple of years. Even though the social media giant has loads of financial backup, they are going to have to find a way to stop the bleeding soon – otherwise, they may be forced to abandon the Facebook Metaverse project entirely.

Conclusion

The Facebook Metaverse is a rapidly evolving space. While many things are not working as ideally as they should, it is important to remember that the virtual space is still in its infancy. But the prospect of being able to interact without any borders is highly appealing, especially since its coming from a company that we’re all well aware of.

There are numerous companies working within the metaverse space, but Facebook’s strategic acquisitions with companies such as Spark AR – there is a vast opportunity for development.

The Facebook Metaverse team is also creating numerous opportunities for businesses to interact with customers in a virtual setting. With brands such as Nike, Adidas, Balenciaga, Prada and more recognizing the potential of placing their products in a virtual space, users can now utilize digital currencies such as ‘Zuck Bucks’ to make purchases.

However, it is also important to note that Zuck Bucks will most likely not be registered on the Blockchain which is considered a huge drawback when compared to other options within the crypto space.


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