We all live in the real world today, but imagine when you get home you can wear a whole set of special personal wearable devices and enter another surreal virtual reality society. When you transform into another form, into a new world, you stand on a 100-meter-wide road illuminated by neon lights and screens. As this road passes through the entire planet, hundreds of millions of people just like you are visiting the same world. Everyone has the ability to customize their appearance, travel in virtual vehicles, purchase virtual real estate and items, and engage in a whole range of human social activities in the virtual world. Just like the “OASIS” in the movie Ready Player One, you live in a huge immersive utopian world in a new digital form.
The word Metaverse comes from the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. The prefix “meta” of Metaverse means “beyond” and the suffix “verse” is the abbreviation for “universe”, which literally means: it is a world beyond the universe. The Metaverse represents a fully immersive three-dimensional digital environment and broader cyberspace. Ultimately, with the help of technology, the Metaverse will become a shared online space that encompasses all dimensions of representation.
In the post-epidemic period, people’s freedom of movement in the real world has been subject to some limitations, which to some extent has encouraged the development of interactive technologies and products to overcome physical limitations. Thus, the popularity of the concept of Metaverse not only satisfies people’s fantasies about future entertainment but also reflects the current needs of reality. In addition to the games that are most talked about, the Metaverse can also have a wide range of applications in the office, transactions, and other matters.
Social media giant Facebook announced its Metaverse ambitions to the world some time ago. The first step is the creation of a virtual reality workspace – Horizon Workrooms. On August 19, Facebook released a free beta version of the program. This is a virtual reality application (VR) for remote collaboration. Users can easily access 3D virtual offices on the Internet via Oculus VR devices. In Facebook’s vision, any user who wears VR glasses and has an internet connection can access the wearable device to work in the virtual office.
Unlike video conferencing software such as Zoom, Oculus VR allows users to see the avatar created by the other party in the virtual reality workspace, and spatial audio technology also allows users to hear sounds from various locations near and far. All activities taking place in the office can be replicated in the virtual world, and even colleagues in other offices can join a meeting at any time.
In the Horizon Workroom, users carry a VR device at home and scan the desktop to enter the virtual office. They can snap their fingers to change their current outfit, or tap on the keyboard in the virtual office as usual, or even use the device as a pen to write and draw in the air to express their views on the virtual whiteboard.
Today’s virtual worlds are mostly created on PCs or mobile devices. However, due to the limitations of these devices, the immersive virtual world we can access is far less interesting than in science fiction movies. As VR hardware with more advanced technology and more affordable prices comes to market, more and more virtual experiences will become “real” and the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds will blur.
The immersive design of the Metaverse is not only created by the details of special effects and technical rendering but also requires the use of other senses and technological innovations in addition to vision to provide users with psychological immersion and emotional involvement in the virtual environment.
One of the keys to the Metaverse is to narrow the gap between the physical world and the virtual world. If one of the five main senses, hearing, is not satisfied, it is impossible to create a “real environment.” To achieve a more realistic effect, you need to recreate the human ear. The auditory effect and the design of the 360-degree spatial audio experience can be considered as the key to recreating the “real”. There are countless sounds that we do not perceive in the real world, and these sounds that we can’t normally perceive subtly affect the experience of people in the virtual environment.
We are always surrounded by sounds, whether we are consciously listening or not. These ubiquitous sounds can provide important cues about position and space, and the perception of sounds can provide us with information about position in a given situation.
In the world structure of the Metaverse, sound can be represented by spatial sound effects to create realistic sound effects, integrate sound into the action, and expand virtual space from a residential sense to a three-dimensional sense. Spatial 3D audio creates a broader cognitive field than a single visual effect and allows the user to be fully immersed in the space of sound effects.
We touch objects all the time, and tactile feedback in the Metaverse world is force feedback that can transform virtual contact into physical perception. This is a special form of tactile feedback. Using technology, simple wearable devices can make the body feel different levels of tactility.
With the improvement of new tactile and biometric sensing technologies, as well as the development of edge computing, computers can quickly process multiple streams of data, and more complex and realistic tactile experiences will emerge.
The virtual world on which the Metaverse is based is a surrogate space for the real world, which means that the activities in the real world will be copied in the form of data. To achieve a truly immersive world of the Metaverse, the security and reliability of the data in the virtual world must also be ensured. Blockchain will play an important role in the stability and security of the Metaverse.
Blockchain can provide a robust decentralized network for the metaverse. The use of blockchain can reduce the burden of centralized management of large amounts of data. If individuals control the Metaverse environment they want to use or view, it can also prevent some large technology companies from operating monopolies. When the Metaverse is used in various applications in the future, it will also be very important to protect personal data and prevent outside attacks through the blockchain. With the help of the blockchain, personal data that has been mistakenly tampered with can be managed and traced through a clear path. In the future world of the Metaverse, data content can be stored in the Blockchain so that people can accurately understand and track the data generated by artificial intelligence and understand the detailed historical records when needed.