1. Even more hype for the Metaverse
The hype for the so-called “metaverse” is already out of control, especially since October 2021, when the Facebook business – and not the social network itself – changed its name to Meta, reflecting, among others, its ownership of Oculus Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets. The metaverse isn’t easy to define, and it’s even more difficult to explain how it will eventually serve older consumers.
It contains elements of virtual reality, where you are completely immersed in another environment while wearing a headset, and elements of augmented reality (AR), which superimpose virtual objects on the physical world. These fields are not completely new. But is it finally their time?
Cristiano Amon, president and CEO of chipmaker Qualcomm, tried to explain the metaverse at last week’s CES tech conference in Las Vegas.
“There are going to be digital twins of everything, a conference room, a house, your social network,” he said. “We are the gateway that connects the physical world to the digital world. “
Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and author of Experience on demand: what is virtual reality, how it works and what it can do, explains it this way: “The metaverse, in simple terms, is made up of people, places and things.”
“People,” as Bailenson defines them, are digital avatars that resemble real people, even in the movement of their bodies. “Places” are virtual scenes that exist even if someone is not there. “The ‘things’ are 3D models of objects, some of which may be NFTs [non-fungible tokens tied to cryptocurrency], which are designed to create market value. Others are just the bread and butter of the metaverse – for example, chairs, trees and Frisbees, ”he says.
You’ll be able to access these environments through a combination of VR headsets, AR-enabled phones, tablets, and smart glasses. So, keep an eye out for potential new hardware from Facebook / Oculus (whose parent company is Meta), Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
“There is definitely a meaningful future for seniors in the Metaverse,” says Bailenson. “We have seen an incredible adoption of virtual reality in assisted living facilities. Unlike a smartphone, which is a frustrating artificial interface to learn and use, [someone using] Virtual reality doesn’t need to learn weird sweeping motions and ever-changing icons. Instead, you just move your head to look at something and move your hands to touch something.