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Practical Techie: The Metaverse now contains many forms of digital reality 

Many digital citizens are excited about the new Metaverse, yet this virtual space is still a rabbit hole, a maze of uncertain, unprecise functionality.

A main goal of the Metaverse is to replicate real-world actuality by creating immersive virtual environments. True to the real deal as possible. The Metaverse waxes as a big digital cosmos that provides many novel possibilities, actual or to be invented. In other words, populating the virtual world of the Web with interactive and enveloping content. A place of different realities.

GAMEVERSE — The main avenue towards the Metaverse as a new digital frontier is gaming and associated platforms. Why? Because digital gaming shares many of the same foundational technologies and artificial intelligence that power the Metaverse.

Another offshoot is ad placement in videogames. Microsoft, which owns Xbox, is a pioneer in in-game advertising for PC and consoles. Business intelligence data suggests that 93% of media buyers intend to run in-game advertising by 2025. There is a big audience. “Xbox Live” alone has around 100 million monthly active players. Estimates are the game ads market can scale to $87 billion globally, especially in the free games content space.

Besides Microsoft, major players in this field are Apple, Nintendo, Sony, Pokemon, and Activision. Gaming stations are considered a premium arena because players spend vast amounts of time and are fully engaged in the experience. The trick would be to use branded content that makes the game more realistic, though many users fear developers will be throwing ads on everything.   

VIRTUAL — Virtual reality (VR) comes in many forms as developers get even more creative with new types of metaverse content. For example, Meta, the innovative digital space created by Facebook, put out an application it calls Builder Bot, which uses voice-activated artificial intelligence technology to create immersive virtual worlds simply by speaking them into existence. It works well, especially for Internet users with physical motor impairments or visually challenged who cannot easily key in texts instructions. To be even more inclusive, some game developers use calibrated chromatics in their productions to assist color-blind players in capturing the full visual spectrum.

AUGMENTED — Another is Augmented reality (AR), considered by the Internet of all Things experts as the most profit-generating possibility in any future Metaverse design. The targeted venues for more realistic augmented reality are video games, reality simulations, commercial imagery, educational applications, military, and medicine or engineering. But expansion to other venues is well and alive.

Take volumetric video, a new form of simulation that replaces traditional filmmaking’s frontal camera and flat-screen experience with tridimensional captures of a scene. Visual content from multiple perspectives of real people in real space. But, AR does not allow the user to interact with a digital object. A technician wearing an AR headset can view the holographic image of the engine but can’t virtually take it apart. That is why there is mixed reality tech.

MIXED — Mixed reality (MR) merges real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations. Here physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time. The use of holographic landscapes in weather newscasts mixes the reality of the studio with the virtuality of the climate scene. MR challenges content producers to maintain accurate spatial registration of real and virtual elements such that any deviation is within the perceptual limits of the human sensory system.

Mixed Reality programs people and objects to interact with virtual elements as though they were real. Useful for introducing virtual content into a live stream meeting. MR is also widely used in e-learning and business sales such as real estate, tourism, fashion, and decoration.

EXTENDED — Extended reality (XR) is a newly coined umbrella word for all this immersive technology. It encompasses the entire spectrum of metaverse “realities.” A bit more complicated, it takes Cloud and 5G to make this technology more accessible to wider audiences by tracking and managing user activity through the blockchain databases and the virtual meeting networks. This tech allows employees to access their home office or professional nets worldwide in ways that let both parties feel as if they are in a similar room.

And so on. There are still deeper developments pending in the metaverse “reality.” One is  Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3,  an automatic language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. It is developed by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research laboratory. Also, social media platforms are constantly innovating forms of digital reality such as special effects for selfies as in Instagram, Snapchat color filters, and virtual makeup as in Tic Tok.  

Overall, the great gain so far of the Metaverse seems to be the possibility of making the Web more inclusive, providing accessibility even to the physically impaired. A greater sense of belonging in the expanding digital universe.

Thus, as innovation circle gets wider and wider, hardcore digital citizens would prefer to immerse more in the alternative worlds of the Metaverse rather than in real life.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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