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The Metaverse: Your Alternate Reality?

In 1992, the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson first spoke about the metaverse. He described it to be a world where humans were programmable avatars, interacting with each other in a virtual world — parallel to the physical world. 

For many, the metaverse is futuristic, not tangible, or viable. Let’s reminisce about a few past inventions that were not quickly adopted by society or even ridiculed when first discovered. In 1903, the Wright Brothers made headlines when they flew the first airplane for a few seconds over a distance of 852 feet. Many people didn’t believe them. A few short years later, in 1919, Navy and Coast Guard airmen flew the first seaplane across the Atlantic Ocean.

Television was another invention believed to be a far-fetched idea, for no one could think there would be technology that would rival the radio. Television’s origins are from the 1830s, and 1840s when Samuel F.B. Morse developed the telegraph. In 1926, Scottish engineer John Baird gave the world the first true demonstration of the television to scientists in London. 

Demystifying the Metaverse One Step at a Time 

In late 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta in reference to the metaverse. According to Facebook, the metaverse is defined “as a piece of infrastructure that isn’t developed or maintained by any single company. The metaverse won’t be a Facebook product but rather the environment in which the company will build applications and experiences” for social connection.

By the end of 2022, the global market value of the metaverse is estimated to be $47.48 billion. It is expected to reach over $678 billion by 2030, which would mean a 1,300% increase in 8 years. Amazing or crazy. Still not sure. Let’s now dive into metaverse logistics. 

The metaverse is not a new concept. Like most things, it builds on existing ideas, applications, and technologies. It is the future version of the Internet. The Internet is open to everyone. Users go online to communicate with each other, with options to visit different websites to browse, buy, or sell things. The metaverse goes one step further. It offers an immersive experience engaging users to interact in one environment, sharing the same virtual location or space.  

The metaverse is in the same state as the Internet was in the 1990s. There is not one metaverse, one digital space, but rather several digital spaces being utilized by individuals, companies, and government entities to create a variety of immersive experiences. 

Buying into the Metaverse

The South Korean government invested $177 million in the metaverse to promote economic growth. A few projects they are working on include Metaverse Academy, aimed at developers and creators to improve their technical skills. Another project is Metaverse Labs which was created to promote the development and commercialization of metaverse technologies. Questions of privacy, security, safety, and illegal activity are a few challenges facing the metaverse. South Korea’s National Data Policy Committee is working on developing regulatory amendments specific to the metaverse.  

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Economy, besides having two existing offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, recently opened its 3rd headquarters in the metaverse. One of the goals is to increase tourism in a virtual world where everyone can visit without leaving the comfort of their homes. The headquarters will be in a multiple-story building with an auditorium for virtual conferences. Visitors in the metaverse headquarters will get a ticket and be matched with a “customer happiness center employee” upon entry. The main strategy is to turn it into one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies by creating 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030.   

J.P. Morgan is the first bank to establish a presence in the metaverse, opening the Onyx Lounge in Decentraland. Decentraland is a 3D virtual world browser-based platform where users can buy virtual pieces of land, play games, socialize, and interact with one another. J.P. Morgan Executives predict the Metaverse will bring in $1 trillion in annual revenue. 

Metaverse Opportunities in Play and in the Works 

E-commerce

SpatialPort aims to “holistically transform the e-commerce experience by tearing down the barriers of entry to digital retail.” SpatialPort was established by industry veterans from Activision Blizzard, AWS, Roblox, Sephora, Google, Meta, and Magic Leap. It offers a 3D store configurator for brands, providing a new channel for influencers while delivering an immersive shopping experience for consumers where they feel, touch, and get to browse and shop just like they would in real life.

Education 

Teach in the metaverse by building a virtual classroom or even an entire campus in 3D to give students an experience that goes above and beyond. The world where 3D brings your environment to life, blurring the lines of reality and virtuality. Let’s take a history class, for example. Reading about the ice age is one thing. Experiencing it with 3D animation, where you are part of the story, brings it to the next level. 

Healthcare

The evolution of telehealth is in the metaverse. The 2022 State of Mental Health in America report revealed that 50 million — almost 20% — of American adults experienced mental illness. Many of them don’t get help due to no insurance coverage, long waiting times to book appointments, and a weak healthcare system overall.

2B3D Founder and CEO Robert Bell uses metaverse technology to provide mental health treatment for U.S. veterans. 2B3D is migrating its telehealth platforms into its Virtual Reality Medical Environment (VRME). Their telehealth migration will be deployed in phases, with the first phase focusing on the priority of providing real-time virtual environment treatment for suicide ideation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Why the Metaverse Needs Data Centers 

Data centers are not just the core of organizations but are rooted in physical infrastructure. The metaverse requires enhanced connectivity, ultra-low latency, additional power, cooling, and scalability.  

The metaverse will allow people to interact holistically with other individuals and assets, requiring more data and increasing heat generation. The data center industry, like the rest of the world, doesn’t know the future of the metaverse but understands the need for sustainable, future-proof liquid cooling technology.

Tech giants envision the metaverse requiring a sizable platform driven by fiber-dense, network-rich interconnection environments. Capacity needs will increase with innovations, applications, and use cases. Applications supporting a metaverse world will have similar requirements as today’s modern platforms — dense computing, storage, and varying latencies. 

The Takeaway

The metaverse is in its infancy, as were many inventions in the past. The saying “Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not” is true and may very well be the case of the metaverse. Only time will tell. Many companies on a global scale see the value of the metaverse. They have taken steps to secure their place within the virtual world. 

Data centers are the heart of any organization and will be even more so when the metaverse is fully deployed. The metaverse is a simulated ecosystem where the lines of reality and the virtual world come together to enhance the lives of those who choose to participate. 

Netrality delivers best-in-class interconnection and colocation services through its operator-owned buildings, featuring cloud-neutral Meet Me Rooms with a robust ecosystem of providers delivering ultra-low latency, high performance, scalability, and network reliability. Contact us today to learn more about our strategically interconnected data centers and how our team of experts will help design IT environments to meet your organization’s needs! 

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