Did Facebook Create the Metaverse?

Did Facebook Create the Metaverse

Facebook is not the only company that has shown keen interest in the metaverse.

You may not know what “metaverse” is, but you might have seen the buzz around it in the tech world. In the last few months, tech giants like Microsoft and Nvidia have shared their futuristic visions for the metaverse, and now Facebook is going all out with its metaverse ambitions.  

Facebook’s parent company is now called Meta Platforms Inc., or “Meta”, a name based on its vision for the metaverse, as announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s Connect conference last month. With a new name, Facebook will bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses. The company also announced that it would change its stock ticker from Facebook ($FB) to Meta ($MVRS) on December 1.

The rebranding move by the social media company is to move into the metaverse. “Building social apps will always be important for us, and there’s a lot more to build. But increasingly, it’s not all we do. In our DNA, we build technology to bring people together. The metaverse is the next frontier in connecting people, just like social networking was when we got started,” said Zuckerberg in his Founder’s Letter

With all the recent developments in the company, the real questions are: What is the metaverse? Did Facebook “create” it?

Metaverse decoded

“Metaverse” is a term coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the internet. The tech concept is a hypothesized iteration, supporting online 3D virtual environments through conventional personal computing and augmented reality headsets.

In simple words, the metaverse is a virtual world created with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. In the metaverse, you can communicate and interact with people who aren’t present in the same physical space as you. To do that, users will have to create a 3D version of themselves as avatars in the virtual world. As per Zuckerberg, what defines the metaverse is a “feeling of presence—like you are right there with another person or in another place.” 

He said, “In the metaverse, you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine—get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create—as well as completely new experiences that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today.” 

Other tech giants leading the metaverse race

With the metaverse, Zuckerberg hopes to bring job opportunities for millions of creators and developers. Zuckerberg took the first step towards his metaverse dream in 2014, when Facebook acquired VR headset company Oculus for US$ 2 billion. Oculus allows people to teleport into new virtual worlds and experiences. 

However, many tech giants like Microsoft and Nvidia are already in the metaverse race to showcase their own virtual worlds. A few days after Facebook’s rebranding announcement, Microsoft launched the metaverse-inspired feature called Mesh for its Teams platform. With this feature, people in different physical locations can take part in holographic experiences together, such as joining virtual meetings, sending chats and collaborating on shared documents, with the productivity tools of the Microsoft Teams app. Like Facebook, Microsoft’s Mesh will also let its users collaborate and interact in 3D virtual avatars.

Chip giant Nvidia is undoubtedly leaping ahead with its Omniverse platform when it comes to embracing the metaverse. Launched in 2019, the Omniverse platform connects 3D worlds into shared virtual space. The platform allows designers, artists and reviewers to work together in real-time across leading software applications in a shared virtual world from anywhere. At the 2021 GTC conference, Nvidia released a set of tools for software developers to help them create a metaverse of 3D virtual worlds and use Nvidia chips’ computing power in the process.

As the metaverse market booms, one thing is certain—the technology will change how we interact in the virtual world.

Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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Nidhi Singh
A self-confessed Bollywood lover, travel junkie, and food evangelist. I like traveling and I believe it is essential to take your mind off the daily monotony. I’ll be reporting on stories from Asia's entrepreneurial ecosystem and can’t wait to get going!

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