We haven’t evolved to communicate via apps on flat screens, video conferencing, or typing on a smartphone. We are three-dimensional beings and, as such, it is in a three-dimensional space that we know how to communicate, understand and be understood, and where our 5 senses are always activated simultaneously.
Faced with this, a new way of interacting with digital information is being built and is becoming more and more essential: the Metaverse. This shift didn’t start “yesterday” and has had many names before – 4th Wave Computing, Spatial Computing, Extended Realities, VR, AR. And you can be sure the name will change again, due to our need to make sense of the invisible layers of digital reality, which we don’t yet fully understand.
The first big question is: what can become of the metaverse?
Personal computers, the Internet, cell phones, algorithms and petabytes of content have completely changed the behavior of humans and businesses. The content still with its increasing availability, but stuck to flat screens. When you think of metaverses, the idea is reversed: to be inside the Internet, immersed in three-dimensional, real-time content and information.
For this, the objects of our daily life will be connected to the web and between them, precisely positioned in a three-dimensional space. Cars, kitchen appliances, televisions, houses, clothes in a store. All connected seamlessly, to perfectly interweave the real and the digital and circulate all the information generated by our interaction with these objects. The same goes for people, pets and even plants.
But for that, it takes a lot of technological development, also called convergence, to get us there. Convergence reaches certain levels of development in complementary technological fields, which allows us to have a satisfying immersion experience, in relation to our physical reality.
Among so many necessary changes and developments, which are the most notable?
First, something most of us rarely think about: 3D renders.
Fast, beautiful and realistic 3D renderings, where needed, will be grounded in our physical reality to delight, engage, bring a sense of being present, without creating motion sickness as a side effect. They will be digital objects that will only be there when you are there and when you interact with them. The more “real” and interesting these 3D objects are, the more attractive virtual spaces and environments will be.
It is also not new that apart from the world of games and communities, people are increasingly using social platforms whose only difference is the use of 3D avatars. It started with “only” a few hundred million users – which may seem like a lot, but it’s a far cry from the total number of internet users. This will become the rule and it will become more democratic.
And why so many changes? Why give up the flat screens and content that already work so well? Humans want better interfaces, easier and smoother interactions. Similar (or better) to those we use in the three-dimensional world. Because we’re conveniently lazy: we want to be on and off the internet simultaneously – socializing in more than one place at the same time.
When people ask me if we already have working metaverses, I answer only partially: the logics and the elements of the metaverses are already common. We still don’t have anything complete or in its final form – after all, in technology and design, there is never a “final form”, there is only process and evolution. And, clearly, there is no metaverse (singular) either. There is a collection, private or public, evolving in parallel.
But in reality, this question has a very strong generational component. If you want to know if virtual spaces for immersion and interaction already exist and how they work, ask children under 11 – the generation born with tablets or mobile phones in their hands – what they think of the existence of metaverses.
Eliza Flores is Managing Partner and Head of Operations at Broders. In 2009, he joined the largest animation and computer graphics production company in South America, which resulted in the creation of The Love and Bytes Company, or VZLab. It has already won awards at Cannes, AD&D, One Show and others. Currently at Broders, Eliza is working on the development of multimedia pieces with a focus on immersion – with a greater emphasis on the fields of education and training.