Cities . People . Technology
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What’s the Metaverse and how can cities benefit from it

The Metaverse has been on everyone’s lips in the past few weeks mainly thanks to the announcement by Facebook that the company was changing its name.

As Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference, his company is renaming itself to META, as a shortening of Metaverse, the new notion trending in technology and innovations.

The prefix “Meta” means “beyond something” or “past something”. Metaphysics study the issues beyond the physical or natural realms, so the metaverse refers to all things related to a fictional world that goes beyond our universe. In simpler terms, the metaverse is the digital realm that we utilize in our daily life to look for entertainment thru online gaming, work thru the Internet or even build social relationships thru social media.

Some industries have been developing their activities in the Metaverse for a while

One perfect example of the implementation of technology in the metaverse is the online gaming industry. Take the rapid growth of online platforms that offer casino games: New casinos are popping up in huge numbers every year due to their popularity with users. Their success relies on the safety & security they offer added to the bonuses and promotions offered to their clients and the variety of banking options in order to deposit money but also to claim prizes. But the main attraction remains the immense selection of casino games, from thousands of different slots to table games such as poker and blackjack to live dealer games.

This last category of live dealer games already introduces the user to an initial layer of the metaverse. Some of these games involve players being able to have a real person as a dealer behind the table or in other cases an avatar of the dealer interacting with as many persons on the table as you can find on a real casino table. Thanks to chat boxes on the gaming rooms, players are even able to interact with each other, making the experience more immersive and closer to reality, but remaining in the virtual world.

This virtual reality is also being exploited by popular video games such as GTA Online, where players take the role of virtual citizens in the virtual world and take on missions where they interact with thousands of other players at the same time.

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Other classic games such as Sims or Second Life allow us to control an avatar and select his looks, clothing and choose the house where it lives and many other decisions that a normal human being would take in real life.

The step forward of these games in the metaverse will be that it will allow us to submerge ourselves in these virtual worlds and feel as we are present in a completely fictional environment. Either with virtual reality glasses or headsets, we’ll be able to enter virtual worlds and feel as part of a new universe.

How can the metaverse impact cities?

In a recent study made by Deloitte Digital and Snapchat, they found out that around 75 percent of the world population will be using augmented reality (AR) features in their smartphones in the next few years.

Augmented reality is the technology used in apps such as Pokémon Go, where the phone’s camera interacts with the actual environment and places virtual characters on the screen.

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Recently, the City of London had a “mini-metaverse” built by Nextech (AR development company) where users could experience visuals in their smartphones in specific locations as well as music from the Guildhall School and the London Symphony Orchestra.

This kind of project can be incorporated into the agendas of governing bodies in order to promote tourism for example, by developing AR projects that showcase the history of specific landmarks via an app designated for foreign visitors and locals.

But at the same time, private companies can benefit from AR metaverses like the real estate industry or the architecture world. Imagine having the construction plans of your future home displayed on your screen on the exact location where you’ll have it built. You could even see the final details and watch everything in colors.

Projects like the one in London are the beginning of a new era in technological advances and right now the possibilities are endless. You can expect much more talk of the metaverse and its implementation in life.

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