Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything.”
― Neil Postman
The worlds of commerce, business, entertainment, education, and healthcare are set to transition into the Metaverse, a new universe growing in the electronic ether. Already, people are socializing, shopping, investing, manufacturing, buying, and selling in the Metaverse.
In this four-part series, we consider what the Metaverse means for the insurance industry and how the industry will change to accept these new and interesting challenges. We are excited about the innovations that lie ahead and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
If you have played Fortnite, Minecraft, or Second Life; if you have worn 3D goggles, a virtual reality headset, or the $10.00 Google Cardboard; if you have ventured into Roblox, Sandbox, or Decentraland, you have set foot in the Metaverse.
In the simplest terms, the Metaverse is being inside the internet. Today, we interact with our computers and the internet via keyboard, finger swiping, and voice inputs, and we watch everything through a flat screen. In the Metaverse, the user becomes an avatar who interacts with the internet inside a computer-generated world.
Experts say the Metaverse is still very much in its infancy, but heavy investments multiplied by the speed of computing equals a horizon that is rapidly approaching. We may not know exactly what the complete Metaverse will look like, but we know it’s coming.
Isn't this just a game?
Basically, the Metaverse will replicate the real, analog world in almost every way. You will create an avatar who will represent you in the virtual world under your control. You may navigate with high tech, 3-D visualization equipment, like the Oculus helmet, or you may direct your avatar with your keyboard and monitor.
This might sound like a game until you really consider what you can access and accomplish. Do you want to see a live concert? Travis Scott, The Weeknd, and Ariana Grande have already performed in virtual venues and many more celebrities are following suit. Do you want to attend a university course? Schools around the world are setting up virtual classrooms to accommodate students from anywhere. Do you want to onboard employees, train someone to fix a car, or visit a museum? Step into the Metaverse and find limitless possibilities.
The Metaverse also allows for the ownership of property that is nearly impossible in the analog world. Already, people are buying houses in virtual neighborhoods. In fact, earlier this year, someone paid $450,000 for the house next to Snoop Dogg’s in The Snoopverse, Dogg’s own Metaverse in the Sandbox Platform. A year ago, you could buy the smallest unit of land in Decentraland for under $1000. Today, that same unit of land is $13,000. Prices are climbing and the Metaverse real estate market is expected to grow 31% in the next six years.
There is also enormous opportunity to buy and sell goods in the Metaverse. Avatars will need clothes and cars. Properties will need furniture and fixtures. People will want the same status symbols they want out here on land. Gucci is already creating a storefront in Sandbox, and someone recently bought a virtual Gucci bag for $4000.
It might all sound too fantastic to be real, but the Metaverse is evolving and attracting investment and business commitment. Once not too long ago, the Metaverse might have been blocky Minecraft figures, but the future of commerce and innovation lies in part in an electron cloud we can’t see.
How can I explore the Metaverse?
You will need the basics: a computer and internet connection. Accessing through a flat screen won’t provide the immersive experience that you can get with virtual reality equipment, but it’s a place to start.
Then, log in. Roblox is a great place for culture and entertainment, and the NFL is opening a virtual store on the platform. Horizon Workrooms is a space perfect for collaborating and working in the Metaverse. The biggest real estate deals are happening in Decentraland, but The Sandbox and Roblox are also “places to be.”
No one is certain yet what the Metaverse will grow to become, but it is certain that it will change the way we live, work, and play. Right now, it might be an intimidating and overwhelming concept, but there will be a place in the Metaverse for everyone.