Facebook created a media flurry when it announced that it was rebranding to Meta last year and was creating its own metaverse.

A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

Extended reality (XR) technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets enable users to interact with a metaverse.

Meta’s metaverse will be an entire digital world accessed by a headset in which you can live for as long as you like. Users will be able to scan their homes and create a digital twin in the metaverse.

The 3D spaces Meta is creating in its metaverse will enable users to socialise with each other, learn from one another, collaborate with each other, and play in new ways.

Metaverse is the term being used to market this concept and there are multiple metaverses being developed and delivered by big tech companies. All the big players have been developing their own technology to support their own metaverses for years.

American technology company Linden Lab took some of the first steps into the metaverse in 2003 when it launched the Second Life online multimedia platform.

Linden Labs takes your hard-earned cash and turns it into Linden Dollars to spend in Second Life. At one point a Christchurch company was selling Second Life houses for thousands of dollars.

Lightweight AR headset manufacturer Magic Leap unveiled its Magicverse AR Cloud in March 2020.

The Magicverse combines base layers from the real or physical world with the computer-generated digital world. Magic Leap is applying the Magicverse in the areas of communications, entertainment, energy, water, health, wellness, and mobility.

Microsoft announced its own metaverse in March last year, enabled by Microsoft Mesh, although the technology is still in preview mode. Mesh (Preview) enables people to connect with a holographic presence, share across space, and collaborate from anywhere in the world.

Microsoft has enterprise applications in mind, with Mesh integrating with Microsoft 365, so calendars, content and workflows naturally transition to their mixed reality world.

VR

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) inventor NVIDIA launched its Omniverse, a scalable multi-GPU real-time reference development platform for 3D simulation and design collaboration, in April 2021. The Omniverse platform gives software developers and their clients access to NVIDIA’s scalable, physically accurate world simulation, powered by NVIDIA’s core physics simulation technologies.

Niantic opened its Lightship Platform to developers globally in November last year, enabling them to build their visions for the real-world metaverse. AR mobile game Pokémon Go was built on Niantic’s Lightship Platform for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices.

Apple is investing in the metaverse too, chief executive Tim Cook confirmed in January.

Virtual reality duplicates of shopping malls can be built in the metaverse, allowing individuals to wander the virtual mall, inspect and try virtual goods, and even watch movies.

I recently saw an events company that enables their clients to select a seat at the stadium, and then virtually see the view of the stadium from that seat in 3D, before confirming their ticket purchase.

Digital representations of businesses can be created and imported into Meta’s metaverse, or another company’s metaverse, or all of them.

Will the different metaverses communicate with each other or will they lock each other out? You might have to put your shopfront into different metaverses perhaps into a multi-metaverse, just like someone listing a holiday rental might use both Bookabach and Airbnb.

Multiple metaverses are already open for business, the question is how soon the world buys in to the cost of being part of this virtual existence or realises the cost to business for not being part of it.