Metaverse Vs Virtual Reality: what is the key difference?

METAVERSE VS VIRTUAL REALITY

It is common place for people to assume that there is no difference between Metaverse and Virtual Reality (VR), given their striking similarities. The thin line between these two became blurrier for some people, as Facebook decided to rebrand to ‘Meta.’ Many people automatically began to assume a lot of things. Some speculated that Mark owned the Metaverse; others thought that he only supported the revolution because his VR headset would be the major tool for accessing the Metaverse, and so on.

However, none of these assumptions have proving to be true as we would examine throughout this article. For instance, the belief that Mark – the owner of Facebook owns the Metaverse is nothing but a misconception, or fallacy. But on the flip side, we see that Facebook, as well as other big companies like Microsoft have all indicated their loyalty to the world of Metaverse.

You may want ask me ‘’how do I know this?’’ Well, it is simple. From the month of October till date, Facebook’s rebranding to ’Meta’ alone rings a bell. Furthermore, Mark has also publicly aired his interest in helping the development and evolution process of the Metaverse. Microsoft on the other hand has developed what they refer to as ‘’Microsoft mesh.’’ The Microsoft mesh speaks of a mixed reality platform in the digital world space – now can you see my point?

For us to properly x-ray the difference between the concept of metaverse and virtual reality, I think we should first arm ourselves with a proper understanding of the meaning of these concepts. Hence, exploring the differences before this would land us in futile efforts.

METAVERSE (Meta)

The word ‘’Meta,’’ as Facebook would call herself is simply an adjective to mean the object in consideration is referring toits own. And of course, as you might have already figured out that the word Meta is an abbreviated form for Metaverse.

The next most likely question to pop up in your mind would be, ‘’what then is Metaverse?’’ O! Wait a minute! If I guessed your question right, do you think I would pass for a good mind reader? Hmm! Let’s proceed – that was on a lighter note.

In 1992, a novel – ‘’Snow Crash’’ by Stephenson Neal became the first material to capture the concept of metaverse. Or let’s say, he birthed the idea of metaverse. According to Neal Stephenson’s novel, the Metaverse refers to ‘’a shared online space that combines the internet, the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.”

Seeing what Facebook and other major supporters of the Metaverse are doing and saying, we cannot argue that Metaverse as we are seeing it to be now, is too different from what Neal had described in 1992. However, it is true that no one man owns the industry, hence there is still no universally accepted definition of the term Metaverse. This therefore implies that any description of the Metaverse outside the parameters of what Neal had said, would be highly dependent on the speaker and the context from which they are describing.

Considering what the founder of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) had to say, we could deduce that the Metaverse would seem be ‘’an embodied internet where instead of just viewing contents, you are in it.’’ That is to say that you wont just see, but you will feel what you are doing on the internet as though you are physically doing it – now that is mind-blowing, I must admit.

Furthermore, remember I mentioned earlier that there are other key players in the development of Metaverse, one of which is Microsoft. Microsoft has also described Metaverse to be ‘’a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things.’’             

However, to an ordinary man on the streets, we can relate Metaverse to be a new version of the internet that places a lot of emphasis in the world of virtual realities, allowing one to access information on the internet more experientially by making use of virtual reality and augmented reality rather than the traditional method of visiting websites through browsers.

At this juncture, are we safe to say that Metaverse simply describes the advancement in our internet technology? If yes, then I guess we are on the same page. On this note, we would make a quick stop to examine briefly the concept of Virtual Reality itself, as this would immediately usher us into the difference.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

Virtual reality is an artificially generated environment and experience. Generated by the use of computer software, and is made to appear to the user as an immediate reality. This is to say that by the use of the technological equipment designed for it, such as helmet with screen inside and sensors fitted gloves, the user perceives his virtual reality as his actual reality.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, Virtual Reality can be said to be a noun, which means ‘’a 3D image or environment of computer-generated simulation, that can be interacted in a seemingly real or physical way by a user with specialized technological and electronic tools.

We could go on and on to keep explaining the established meanings and definitions of Virtual Reality. But here’s the gist; notice that Virtual reality in itself in not vague in meaning or understanding at all. It is clearly understood, defined and fully described. However, on the other side of the coin, we see a Metaverse that is still an emerging phenomenon, not yet completely dissected. Hence, this becomes our first significant difference between the two. The concept and meaning of Metaverse still vague, while Virtual Reality is not.

Now, having unraveled and understood the meaning of both concepts: virtual reality and metaverse, it is time we take the bull by the horn and examine further differences between the two as we shade more light on the blurry thin line between them, making them less blurry and clearer to distinguish.

KEY DIFFERENCES

  • As we already saw earlier; I would mention it again incase you missed it reading down.The first difference we see is that Metaverse is still vague in definition, while virtual reality is not. Virtual reality is already an established concept.

Let me give you a side gist; some experts have posited that Metaverse is only an instrument to raise buzz among the masses, stating that its solemn aim is to simply improve on existing internet technology – is this true? Well, this is not the focus of this article, so I would leave that for you to answer; a little food for thought – isn’t it?

  • Another salient point to note as we progress is that no one man owns the Metaverse technology. At best, the big players only help in the development process. For instance, Facebook’s rebranding to ‘meta’ does not mean they now own Metaverse just like they do Oculus Rift. They are part of the major players in the development process of the Metaverse.
  • The already existing Virtual Reality has certain limitations in size. However, the Metaverse promises to allow more access to the whole internet space – sounds amazing right? The shared virtual space on metaverse also allows users to interact with each other in various virtual locations.

For instance, you can go out to see a movie with a friend on Metaverse. It would feel as though they are physically there with you – this is magic of metaverse. Avatars can be customized, and opportunities to acquire virtual properties like product and environment or NFTs are all possibilities that lie with the Metaverse.

  • Unlike Virtual Reality that demands the compulsory use of headset to access its services, Metaverse promises to allow access to her platform even without the use of headsets. Although, part of the service on Metaverse would be accessed through the VR headset users.

This would therefore imply that in the nearest future, browsing the internet would be the almost or if not the same thing as virtual reality. This is because Metaverse does not just give you information, it exposes you to a virtual world where you can interact with and even visit locations to source for your information as primarily data.

At the end of the day, we would discover that VR headset might become an alternative to our smartphones in performing certain activities.Gush! I guessed that one must be a hard one to swallow!

  • Talk about compatibility – talk Metaverse. This is another overwhelming feature of the metaverse that succinctly distinguishes it from VR. The Metaverse is equipped to allow users connect to the internet using any of their technologically internet equipped device. As a matter of fact, Metaverse is compatible with every AR device. On the other hand, VR cannot support these variety of features alone.

CONCLUSION

With all we have examined so far, I am sure we can agree on the common ground that Metaverse is surely loaded with huge potentials to transform the way we use the internet; the way we use the social media, and consequently the way we do our work. Indeed, we have witnessed significant breakthroughs with the advent of VR. I am also certain we would have even more scalability in the things VR can already do and more with Metaverse.

I am also confident that sports, education, therapy and many others sphere of life will take a better shape with the inception of Metaverse. After all, remember we said earlier that the Metaverse is an improved version of the internet we have today.

Would Metaverse replace the internet? Certain not. Just like VR headsets offered us an alternative to the use of computer screens, The Metaverse might not completely replace the use of internet, but would more or less offer a better alternative to the internet we have today.

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