The Metaverse is powered by immersive technology which is another term for extended reality or spatial computing technologies. These terms can be used interchangeably to refer to the spectrum of VR, AR, and XR technology. The word “immersive” is indicative of the engaging nature of the experiences that these technologies create, and their ability to deliver a new level of focus and realism in comparison to other digital experiences, like consuming video content, viewing 2D images, or participating in a video conference call.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound. The simplest form of virtual reality is a 3-D image that can be explored interactively at a personal computer, usually by manipulating keys or the mouse so that the content of the image moves in some direction or zooms in or out. More sophisticated efforts involve such approaches as wrap-around display screens, actual rooms augmented with wearable computers, and haptics devices that let you feel the display images.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology or an experience that alters our perception of the physical world around us where the objects in the physical world are replaced by virtual objects with the help of computer-generated inputs. AR, as the name suggests, augments our reality by enhancing parts of our physical world and then replacing them with digital content, meaning it allows us to see the real-life objects or the environment right in front of us, when they are not exactly there, with a digitally overlaid user interface. AR is the direct link between the physical world and virtual reality. Probably one of the best examples of AR is the popular game Pokémon Go, which was released in 2016 and quickly became a worldwide sensation. AR simply adds digital information to the world we can interact with it in the same manner we interact with the physical world.
Extended Reality (XR)
Extended Reality (XR) is an all-encompassing term that combines the experiences of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, meaning all the technologically-enhanced realities fall under the umbrella term of XR. It is a relatively new technology that blurs the line between the real world and the digital world to create more personalized, immersive visual experiences. XR blends the physical and the virtual worlds together and extends them all the way out to the background and beyond. It has the potential to transform the world around us – the real world –into something personalized, using special headsets, glasses, or anything to enhance your perception. We are at the dawn of a new age where the reality we know is changing in ways you cannot possibly think of.
So what is the Metaverse? Author Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in 1992 in his science-fiction novel “Snow Crash,” which discussed a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet. Investopedia defines it as “a shared virtual environment that people access via the Internet. Technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are combined in the metaverse to create a sense of ‘virtual presence.’”
In other words, the Metaverse is the idea that the aforementioned virtual and augmented reality experiences will eventually be connected, offering people a way to move from one environment to another within a much larger and interconnected virtual environment. This is analogous to the way people move from one building to another within the same city in the real world.