- Loris Modena
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Ever since Facebook changed its name to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg showed some examples of virtual space, there has been a flourishing of interest in the metaverse. Not a day goes by since that October 28, that we don't read some articles about how someone has made huge sums by selling virtual properties or opening businesses in the metaverse.
So how to access the metaverse? The answer is it can't, this virtual space doesn't exist yet and maybe it won't hesitate for a long, long time to come. So what do they sell? Nothing concrete, like the sale of property lots on the Moon.
The problem is that despite the renewed interest, access to virtual reality requires the use of devices such as Oculus, which fail to attract interest, and not for a matter of costs, but for a problem of usability and comfort. "The prospect of spending a lot of time wearing a heavy and annoying headset, moving around in a virtual environment with unnatural controls, is far from appealing to not very motivated users." As Dario Orlandi writes on PC Professionale (December 2021 p. 37).
It is not even a novelty, virtual reality returns on a regular basis, we can mention virtual modes such as Second Live , Mmorp and Mud . Virtual worlds where the playful component is the master.
In reality Facebook no longer attracts teenagers, the loss in the last two years has been 13% (source: Facebook file). There are those who see, as reported in the article by PC Professionale, in these announcements by the multinational, an attempt to divert attention from the scandals and problems of the social platform.
It is an outdated idea that will not stand up to the real novelty that awaits us in the future: Augmented Reality .
The reality is that the metaverse does not exist, not even as a prototype and will not exist in the immediate future , the problems of virtual reality will not be solved during this decade and probably not even in the next. Last but not least, although virtual reality is a topic also dealt with in science fiction, it is not the future.
Difference between Virtual Reality (Metaverse) and Augmented Reality
While virtual reality or metaverse, aims to make us spend part of our life in a virtual space, augmented reality (abbreviated AR), aims at the exact opposite, enriching the human sensory experience, through electronically generated information. Unlike virtual reality where current applications are playful, augmented reality, to date, the first applications are in the professional field and soon thanks to 5G connections and the introduction of the IoT (Internet of Things), it is preparing to bring a true technological and social revolution that has not been seen since the introduction of the WEB in 1990.
While the metaverse aims to estrange us from reality, AR aims to make us live in an expanded and more inclusive world.
The main problem is precisely the alienation from the outside world that surrounds us , it is not a problem to be overcome, already today many of us struggle to use headphones, as they prevent us from hearing what is happening around us. If in the environment there are people we know and with whom we relate, the psychological difficulty of isolating ourselves becomes even stronger. Virtual reality to achieve maximum involvement must disconnect all our senses from the reality where we are , make us feel one hundred percent, in another place, in another body. This will create anxiety, fears and a sense of loss, on the contrary AR points to the opposite extreme.
With augmented reality it will be possible one day while visiting a foreign country, to receive tourist information and curiosities in our language and translations in real time , overcoming one of the major limits of current communication: linguistic and cultural differences. No less are the professional possibilities through wearable devices and less masochistic than those of virtual reality, we will be able to receive or give instructions remotely to deal with an emergency in the correct way. The future will not be the alienation from reality, but the fusion of the digital world with the analog one.
True, projects like Google Glass have failed, not for lack of interest but for a technological problem. Recently Ray-Ban and Luxottica also launched smart glasses on the market, which do not have enough functions to make us live in AR, but are a small and timid step towards the future that awaits us.
Could the metaverse one day exist? Yes, but as places of entertainment, the plural is not accidental, there will be more virtual worlds where you can have fun and even practice some eSports. However, it will remain bound to the playful sphere, perhaps some professional application in the world of simulations, but nothing more.
Author: Loris Modena