What is a Virtual Reality?
The era of virtual reality has been a long-awaited dream in the tech world. The idea of a data-driven digital world has been around almost as long as the concept of computing. Virtual reality itself has been a patented concept since 1961 named the Telesphere Mask (U.S. Patent No. 2,955,156).
The original patent states that the spectator would be given a complete sensation of reality from three-dimensional imagery with full color and 100% peripheral vision to binaural sound, scents, and even air breezes. Today, virtual reality, VR, and headsets lack access to air breezes and scents.
Virtual Reality is defined as a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a pseudo-realistic or physical way. It’s often accessed through what is known as a virtual reality head-mounted display, or VR HMD.
The concept of virtual reality has always been a computing dream. Even before the realization of true VR functionality, computing enthusiasts pushed the concept far beyond the limitations of their time. Even now, hardware accessories are made to push those limitations even further.
What is a Metaverse?
The term ‘metaverse’ first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash. It was used to describe a virtual space where humans used digital avatars to interact with each other and software applications in a three-dimensional virtual space meant to feel like the real world. The same concept has since been revisited in literature and video entertainment alongside VR/AR technology to interact with it such as shown in Minority Report.
Nowadays, the concept has evolved to include any technology that allows real-world people to interact with the digital world from smartphones and laptops to VR HMDs, AR Goggles, and smartwatches. The ultimate goal is to be a digital space where all internet activity can take place as a mirror of the physical world.
If you’re having difficulty imagining what that would be like, think along the lines of what’s represented in Ready Player One, Tron, the Matrix, or Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet. While it is often associated directly with gaming, a metaverse can also be used for workplace productivity, business transactions, and even education.
You’ve likely heard recently how the metaverse will usher in a new era of digital connectivity, virtual reality (VR) experiences and e-commerce. Tech companies are betting big on it: Microsoft’s massive US$68.7 billion acquisition of game developing giant Activision Blizzard reflected the company’s desire to bolster its position in the interactive entertainment space.
Prior to this, Facebook’s parent company rebranded itself as Meta — a key pillar of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s grand ambitions to reimagine the social media platform as “a metaverse company, building the future of social connection.”
With so many similarities, it’s not hard to confuse virtual reality with the metaverse. Especially because some companies have taken to using the two terms interchangeably. VR is definitely a major part of the metaverse, but it’s only one portion of the complete idea.
The Metaverse vs Virtual Reality: What’s the Difference?
Both concepts are closely intertwined. VR and the Metaverse rely on each other to see continued success. Without easy-to-use VR/AR HMDs, the Metaverse is just the internet. VR can be used as a standalone experience that is completely separate from the online world. The key to the Metaverse is that the experiences are somewhat tied together through a visual and interactive experience. Virtual Reality applications/games do not need to be tied to any other source.
The Metaverse vs Virtual Reality: Compared FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is the Metaverse augmented reality or virtual reality?
The Metaverse will ultimately make use of both AR, augmented reality, and VR, virtual reality. As the Metaverse is a virtual space, it can be interacted with by any computer. It may not appear as exciting on a flat-screen as it is through a VR headset, but it is the same thing. Increased functionality of visual interface devices like VR HMDs gives the metaverse a more realistic feel and representation.
What is future of the Metaverse?
The future of the Metaverse is still up in the air. The term was coined to introduce a fresh view of what social and business interactions through AR and VR technology can be. Much of the confusion about what the Metaverse is comes from its currently undefined nature.
The biggest names in tech are all developing their own metaverse projects from Microsoft and Apple to Nvidia, Meta(formerly Facebook), and even Steam. Every one of these tech giants has a slightly different take on exactly what can be achieved with the Metaverse. Productivity, design, collaboration, gaming, shopping, and all our favorite internet activities can be performed in a more immersive way that makes use of natural senses to increase information bandwidth.
What are the Metaverse and virtual reality in simple terms?
Virtual Reality is a type of technology that allows for immersive interaction with software applications. The Metaverse is a conglomeration of three-dimensional computer-generated “spaces” that utilize virtual reality technology. The simplest way to define it is that Virtual Reality talks about the type of technology used to access software. The Metaverse is software that is made to be like a “virtual space”.