The term “metaverse” is the latest tech buzzword representing a virtual realm in the making that is intended to supplant the internet and the world as we know it today.
The concept has surged in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic as lockdown measures and work-from-home policies pushed more people online for both business and pleasure, increasing demand for ways to make online interaction more lifelike.
It is a term that was first coined in the dystopian 1992 novel “Snow Crash” by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson three decades ago and is now attracting buzz around the world.
It owes its popularity nowadays to one of the best-known internet platforms, which is rebranding itself to be part of the next big thing.
Facebook renamed itself Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, in October in transition from being a social media company to a metaverse company to signal its embrace of the futuristic idea. Many other big players are also talking up the metaverse, including Microsoft, chipmaker Nvidia and game platforms such as Epic Games and Roblox.
The term covers a wide variety of virtual realities, from workplace tools to games and community platforms. It generally refers to shared and immersive lifelike digital environments that people can move between using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) headsets or computer screens.
Many of the new platforms are powered by blockchain technology, using cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), allowing a new kind of decentralized digital asset to be built, owned and monetized.
Some people also use the word metaverse to describe gaming worlds, in which users have a character that can walk around and interact with other players.
There is a specific type of metaverse that uses blockchain technology. In these, users can buy virtual land and other digital assets using cryptocurrencies.
The large advertising campaigns on the concept have influenced all business partners around the world.
Metaverse technologies are still in the early stages of being adopted. Today's implications could be just the first steps of a millennia-long transformation. You are not missing anything yet. If you can understand this transformation, you can put yourself in just the right position.
The bad news for those buying a plot in the metaverse is that there is currently no such opportunity. With the pseudo abundance of cryptocurrencies, it is almost impossible to see the true value of purchases.
The so-called universal digital world has become the popular concept of the new multibillion-dollar economy. Let's take a closer look at the steps leading up to the concept of the metaverse.
So how did we get to this point?
Let’s take a closer look at the hardware side first. Processors and sensors have shrunk in size, and machines rather than people have been connected to the internet and have collected data. In other words, the concept that we call the Internet of things (IoT) has enabled the formation of large data pools.
The increase in the use of blockchains and cryptocurrencies and the strengthening of decentralized structures have invigorated people more for a decentralized digital universe where banks are not needed for payments. Digital assets, cryptocurrencies and decentralized structures have gained more power than ever.
Cloud technology has led to the spread of people’s computing power everywhere, regardless of the device, and has caused the creative process to be spread to the base. This has increased the meeting of creative talents and technology users in the digital universe. In short, it has caused the spread of virtual and augmented reality applications.
So, the need for a workstation worth thousands of dollars has disappeared. From a simple laptop to a smartphone, everyone has now joined the creation process. Advances in software technology have also accelerated this process.
The leap of talent facilitated by software developers in artificial intelligence and machine learning also supports the creation of a digital new universe.
Making digital projects with less coding again allowed more people to participate in the digital production process. In short, the code writing and technology barrier has disappeared.
Meetings of software developers and business partners of giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Apple, and common software libraries such as GiftHub have caused a jump in the collective accumulation of programmers.
After all, internet connection, speed and continuity will be indispensable factors for the metaverse. That is why fiber and 5G mobile infrastructure will be effective in critical transformation in many concepts, from driverless cars to autonomous vehicles.
In a digital universe with data centers, people and machines, the continuity of internet infrastructure will become part of our lives.
So, what could a cybersecurity crisis that may emerge in the coming days lead to?
My guess is that the security crisis may push people to use a digital identity, that is, a digital twin. For instance, every day we use our HES code, Turkey’s COVID-19 tracking app, as a digital twin when entering a shopping mall, boarding a plane or bus. In other words, new points are being formed where the digital universe and the physical universe coincide. The security crisis will push for new measures on personal data and security.
By 2026, 25% of people are estimated to spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment, according to the latest study by Gartner, a U.S.-based technology research and consulting company.
But what exactly is a metaverse?
It is a collective virtual space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. In other words, it is device-independent and is not owned by a single vendor. It is an independent virtual economy, enabled by digital currencies and NFTs.
A metaverse represents a combinatorial innovation, as it requires multiple technologies and trends to function.
Contributing tech capabilities include AR, flexible work styles, head-mounted displays (HMDs), an AR cloud, the IoT, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial technologies.
To understand the concepts of a metaverse, think of it as the next version of the internet, which started as individual bulletin boards and independent online destinations. Eventually, these destinations became sites on a virtual shared space – similar to how a metaverse will develop.
The year 2021 seems to have been buoyant looing at the metaverse investments in the startup ecosystem, with interest particularly leaping toward the end of the year.
The fourth quarter of last year was unlike any other as far as venture interest in the VR/AR space. Nearly $1.9 billion of venture capital poured into startups in the virtual and augmented reality software and hardware space, more than any quarter ever, according to Crunchbase data.
This enabled 2021 to become the second-best year ever for VR/AR investment with nearly $3.9 billion of venture coming to startups, the data showed.
It trailed only 2018, which saw nearly $4.4 billion thanks to some large rounds by companies like Magic Leap and SenseTime.
Seven of the top 10 rounds last year occurred in the fourth quarter. Florida-based wearable tech maker Magic Leap raised a $500 million round in October. San Francisco-based Niantic, a builder of augmented reality platforms, closed a $300 million Series D in November and South Korea-based 3D avatar application developer NAVER Z raised a Series B worth approximately $188.2 million, also in November.
Investments by institutions in technology startups increased significantly in 2021. Although there are no specific figures on Metaverse ventures, initiatives specializing especially in artificial intelligence have attracted major interest.
One of Turkey’s leading information and communication technologies companies Türk Telekom has invested in Syntonym, Optiyol, QuantWifi and B2Metric, all ventures that are engaged in producing artificial intelligence-based solutions, through its corporate venture capital company TT Ventures.
TT Ventures has selected three of the investments from startups that have graduated from its startup acceleration program, PILOT. The number of startups that have received investments by TT Ventures has reached eight, while the venture portfolio doubled.
In addition to financial investments with the unique investment model it has developed, TT Ventures also offers various supports to startups such as sales, marketing, infrastructure and technology through Türk Telekom.
One of the enterprises that obtained funding was Syntonym, which has been developing the technology for synthetic data anonymization.
Unlike traditional methods, Syntonym protects analytical metrics, making it possible both to avoid structural and functional losses in the anonymization process and to use the obtained data in artificial intelligence training.
On the other hand, Optiyol provides routing solutions to many different sectors carrying out logistics operations, from e-commerce to transportation, with its artificial intelligence technology.
QuantWifi aims to maximize customer satisfaction by measuring the internet demand, which has leaped particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, and the associated Wi-Fi connection experiences at homes.
As for B2Metric, it offers an AI-based analytical solution that performs customer journey forecasting analytics, provides risk scoring, customer movement forecasting, segmentation, campaign and price optimization process management, and provides high accuracy and forecast rates.
It offers specialized platforms on adaptive big data analytics systems for active learners based on artificial intelligence in structured and unstructured distributed big data environments.
Interpreting company data and making future forecasting, B2Metric is achieving successful results in various fields such as finance, insurance, telecommunications, digital applications, e-commerce, automotive, retail and mobile gaming.