What To Know About The Metaverse In 2024
What To Know About The Metaverse In 2024

What To Know About The Metaverse In 2024

Remember when Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook to Meta in 2021? The metaverse was going to be the next big thing, but three years on and that hasn’t happened – yet. We asked three metaverse believers where it’s at and how it could still be transformative for businesses…
By Harriet Russell

Let’s start by trying to define what exactly the metaverse is…

“If you think it’s those white goggles you put over your eyes so you can play games, you’re close but not quite. The metaverse is your internet experience transformed into a 3D world. It has a tremendous amount of capability to transform not just our online experiences but in business, social life and education.” – Caitlin McLaren, co-founder of Develop Digital

“When we think about the metaverse, we think spatially – as though it's a place. In fact, it’s a vast digital universe where we are not bound by physical limitations. It’s a collective, virtual arena where people can interact, socialise, work, play and express themselves through unique avatars and creations. It means everything will be more interconnected. If you look at social platforms as ‘walled gardens’, the metaverse will metaphorically break down these walls, allowing data to flow freely. For society, the majority of life will still happen in real life, but your digital extension or footprint will expand and not be limited by location, device or otherwise.” – Gaynelle Brautigam, head of innovation at Tactical

How do you see the metaverse changing businesses?

“It’s easy to view new technological advancements as daunting, but the metaverse could be hugely beneficial to businesses. For commerce, imagine the ability to design a storefront and offer customers a virtual experience that can expand globally. For service-based businesses, the metaverse could bridge the gap with clients to create long-lasting relationships. The metaverse is about connection – and this could be huge for the community building that is a natural element of doing business.” – Caitlin

“For each industry, it will be revolutionary in different ways. Take fashion, for example. Today, we have little choice but to trust what brands and corporations say about their practices. But with the metaverse and blockchain technology, consumers will be able to verify exactly where, how and from what items are made of, forcing brands to be open and honest about how they operate. Companies will also be able to trace, predict and satisfy every consumer’s wants and needs.” – Gaynelle

Where do you think the metaverse will be in a decade?

“I see two massive shifts in the upcoming decade: in spatial computing and AI. As the adoption of spatial computing becomes widespread, we’ll see physical and digital realities become increasingly blended. Sticking with fashion, imagine walking down the street with mixed-reality goggles and seeing passers-by wearing digital clothing that expresses their unique creativity and style. Meanwhile, AI has the power to make industry-wide fashion trends obsolete by giving consumers the ability to rapidly visualise, design and purchase their own hyper-personalised digital fits. If you think digital garments are a fad – think again. We are already starting to see platforms like DressX pop up, offering seamless virtual clothing that you can wear in photos and video calls; allowing users to build an extensive and sustainable digital closet. Not to mention that, given its digitised nature, this clothing is completely uninhibited by traditional design and sizing constraints, enabling any users to try them on with augmented reality and AI.” – Gaynelle

"The metaverse is already rapidly evolving, with the core focus on making experiences even more immersive and realistic. Meta's Codec Avatar prototype demonstrates the future of interaction. Imagine meetings or social gatherings with photorealistic avatars – seeing the lines around your friends' eyes, or the furrowing of a colleague's brow, will dramatically increase the depth of virtual experiences. True immersion, however, goes beyond sight. The next frontier is replicating our other senses. Spatial audio already makes a world of difference, while haptic technology promises to revolutionise how we interact in the metaverse within the next decade.” – Becky Owen, global CMO at Billion Dollar Boy

Looking beyond fashion for a moment, where else could the metaverse make an impact?

“In gaming, users will ‘own’ their progression, i.e. they won’t have to start building their character from scratch every time they start a new game. They’ll be able to transfer avatars between worlds with more fluidity. In education, users will benefit from personalised learning paths and styles which suit them, as well as hyper-personalised, niche content. This will help to upskill people faster, mitigate error and streamline productivity. There will also be new formats of immersive education, where people learn by doing.” – Gaynelle 

What are the potential drawbacks of a fully realised metaverse?

“Can we really replace face-to-face connection and communities? In the ever-growing digital age, there are substantial increases in the loneliness epidemic, and the metaverse could easily cause further divisions.” – Caitlin

“The biggest challenge for the metaverse lies in politics, not technology. If you look at hiring trends in the past decade, there’s been a noticeable increase in higher-paid jobs versus the amount of lower-paid jobs – and AI will only exacerbate this. On the other hand, because it makes digital data and collaboration more accessible, the metaverse will make remote work more attractive, and reduce the number of roles dictated by geography.” – Gaynelle 

Are there any ethical considerations that need to be addressed?

“There are always ethical considerations with the rollout of new technologies. Common questions raised include, ‘Where’s my data going?’ and ‘What does this mean for my digital footprint?’ There are few to no repercussions when it comes to the element of protection on existing platforms, and as a result there is a large grey area of trust. All of this needs to be considered and made apparent to users before the public adopts these platforms as a beneficial ‘new normal’.” – Caitlin

“A key challenge lies in digital identity. How can we be sure the person behind an avatar is who they claim to be? Without reliable verification, there's the potential for individuals to misrepresent themselves, potentially causing harm while disguised as another person or group. Biometric security and digital passports may offer solutions, but it's important to weigh those tools against their implications for privacy. The metaverse is an exciting frontier, but proactively addressing issues like inclusivity, safety and digital identity is the only way to ensure this emerging technology has a positive impact on our lives.” – Becky 

How might the metaverse impact the way we work?

“The pandemic fundamentally altered how we work and connect. It demonstrated the potential of remote work, allowing employees greater flexibility and opening up talent pools beyond specific geographic areas. However, remote work can sometimes lack the spontaneous interactions that drive innovation and make collaborative sessions feel truly dynamic. The metaverse provides an opportunity to enhance the hybrid of virtual and physical worlds that we now exist in, making working sessions and collaborations more personal, dynamic and expansive.” – Becky

What opportunities do you see for entrepreneurs within the metaverse?

“In its current format, the metaverse is more applicable to some industries than others. I would recommend entrepreneurs do their research to see if a metaverse build-out of their business would actually be commercially viable and whether there’s the market for it. Consider what your sector’s competition is already like in the metaverse, and whether there is the audience for a new player. That said, the metaverse does offer a growing market for virtual goods such as clothing and accessories, and virtual services such as real estate, and experiences like concerts, conferences and tourism. As more users are drawn to the metaverse, new markets and new advertising opportunities will emerge. With this in mind, there is space for entrepreneurs to develop new advertising formats and to reach niche audiences with specific interests that can only or predominantly exist in the virtual world.” – Becky 

“It could give businesses the ability to have (virtual) conferences and offices that are important for company culture and increasing employment satisfaction and retention – but without the massive costs. There are so many cost benefits to businesses as well as the productivity element.” – Caitlin 

How do you anticipate the regulatory landscape evolving in response to the growth of the metaverse?

“This is going to be a difficult one because we are looking at completely uncharted territory, though the EU is already looking at rolling out new regulations specifically for the metaverse. The rise in scams and fraud are a particular field to highlight, along with how users would be protected, but there’s also the conversation about intellectual property and how businesses need to protect their brand. Beyond this, the user experience needs to be monitored and reviewed as we have learnt from social media – online experiences can be a breeding ground for hate speech and harassment. These are all key points that regulatory bodies will be following closely.” – Caitlin

“We always welcome clearer guidelines – and there is clearly a need for further regulation in the metaverse. It may unfortunately have to be shaped over time through trial and error, given it’s such a new space. And ideally, we would like to see regulation applied in a way that doesn’t hamper creativity and innovation. However, user safety must always come first. Interpol is already suggesting that police forces should have a virtual presence and has even built its own virtual reality space for training which is a step in the right direction.” – Becky

Finally, what advice would you give to individuals and organisations looking to explore or invest in the metaverse?

“Making an investment in a new space is always a risk as there’s no playbook. Adopting a digital-first mindset is crucial. Think about how you can use the metaverse to help you do what you want. This means understanding the principles upon which the metaverse is based. Of course, these continue to evolve and change, so staying on top of regulation and functionality is key.” – Gaynelle

Visit DevelopDigital.coWeAreTactical.comBillionDollarBoy.com

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at info@sheerluxe.com.