What is the metaverse and why should you care?

Whether you think it’s a gimmick or the future of the internet, the era of the metaverse has arrived. But what exactly is it and how might it affect your business or career?

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Careful listeners will have heard mumblings around the metaverse for several years, but those whispers have grown into shouts since Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of Facebook to Meta late last year.

The company spent over US$10bn on metaverse-related activities in 2021, and Zuckerberg’s big announcement led to an explosion of interest in the concept, which to this day still doesn’t have a globally agreed definition.

So, what is the metaverse?

Ask any group of people to describe the metaverse and you’ll get a variety of answers. Some think of it as the use of augmented reality (AR) overlaid in our daily ‘real world’ lives, others look at it as a virtual world we enter using avatars – think Ready Player One.

Although the metaverse is yet to be truly defined, in broad terms it’s essentially a networked world that integrates off and online experiences.

“The metaverse is a persistent and immersive digital environment of independent yet interconnected networks that will use yet to be determined communication protocols. It enables persistent, decentralised, collaborative, interoperable digital content that intersects with the physical world’s real-time, spatially oriented and indexed content,” says Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.

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