The metaverse is a parallel world with virtual and augmented reality that sits atop the physical world we inhabit. It’s all very exciting to think of the internet in 3D and a gazillion interconnected virtual communities. But do you find yourself asking – how do I access this metaverse?
How Do I Access the Metaverse?
In order to enter the metaverse and experience it at its full realization, you will need a Virtual Reality Headset or Augmented Reality Glasses.
Companies such as Meta, Microsoft, and Nvidia have touted grand visions of what this next iteration of the internet could be. However it doesn’t exist yet. The good news is, we may only be a few years away from a true immersive metaverse experience. Let’s continue.
The Early Attempts Did Not Find Mass Adoption Among Users
When Neal Stephenson wrote Snow Crash in 1992, the characters wore special goggles and could log in through portals (either free or paid) to have their avatars walk the “street”, a very long stretch along which various expenses could be had.
Subsequent attempts over the next 20+ years attempted to use similar technology to have users access the virtual realities created by their platforms. While there are distinctions between virtual reality and a full metaverse, the access portal technology had similarities to what has emerged over the past few years.
Attempts at various metaverse like platforms include the Second Life platform built in 2008, whose popularity never reached beyond a niche user group.
Avaya later tried to replicate the access portals through web.alive and then AvayaLive Engage, which were shut down by 2016.
Another technology that was canned in 2016 was the highly touted 3D televisions, which had been launched in 2010. Finally, there were the Google Glasses, that died a quick death soon after their launch in 2013.
After these many years of attempts, the key question of “how do I access the metaverse?” has more definitive answers today, with next generation technology also on its way.
How Do I Access the Metaverse Today?
Early iterations of the metaverse platforms do exist and can be accessed right now. But keep in mind, these experiences are limited to smart phones and computer screens and are early iterations of the metaverse concept.
These platforms do not live up to the larger more futuristic vision of the metaverse set by top tech influencers. However they are built on the core components that are the foundation of the future internet: Ethereum, NFTs, and Cryptocurrency.
Want to experience an early iteration of a metaverse platform? Here a few metaverse platforms you can jump into right now:
- The Sandbox
The Sandbox Play. Create. Own. Govern. Earn. Welcome to the Metaverse The Sandbox team is building a unique virtual world where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences using SAND, the main utility token of the platform.
Decentraland is a user-owned decentralized metaverse platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Virtual plots of lands can be bought and sold. People can create their own micro-worlds with virtual trees, aircraft and much more.
VRChat is a user-generated virtual world that lets people socialize, attend events, take classes, create art, play games, perform for large crowds, and even explore virtual environments.
- Somnium Space
Somnium Space is an Open, Social and Persistent Virtual Reality World, empowered by blockchain technology where everyone can buy land, build or import objects, use avatars and scripts, easily monetize their experiences and immerse themselves into a completely alternative reality.
Revomon is an online role-playing metaverse (RPG) that combines an incredible, immersive virtual-reality experience with the ground-breaking technology behind non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This synergy will allow for the creation of real value in a virtual world by leveraging highlight.
- RFOX Vault
RFOX was founded in 2018 with the purpose to be one of the world’s foremost metaverse builder. Creating a metaverse that acts as a platform connecting whitelabel services in one central hub. Businesses and creators can tap into tools for finance, gaming, VR, NFTs, e-commerce and retail and market to a ready-made audience of users.
- Vulcan Verse
Vulcan Forged has grown from a small digital art NFT platform to a multi-dApp platform, game studio, launchpad and a top 5 volume NFT marketplace. Second only to Walmart, they are the busiest client on the VeChain Network, moving from a few users to thousands with just under $3m in NFT trading volume.
Be one of the first residents of Portals and come help us turn the solarpunk dream into reality. A Portals NFT will grant you ownership to one of the units in Building One. The NFT will be your proof of ownership and access card to your space the building. The card will store and remember (metaphorically) everything you own and build in Portals!
- Horizon Worlds
The free app is a social world-building playground. Upon entering the app you’re presented with three options: play games, attend events or hang out. You can explore experiences that Meta itself created, as well as community-generated spaces, which anyone can build.
Did we miss one? Tell Us.
How Do I Access the Metaverse in the Future?
Currently, Meta (Formally Facebook) has had recent success with its Quest Virtual Reality Headsets. The newest edition, Meta Quest 2 VR headset, is one way to enter Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform.
There have been a number of other attempts, such as Google Glasses, which did not fully pan out. Now, a new generation of augment reality lenses (AR Lenses) are being developed to help their wearers enter the metaverse.
As we will see below, there are also variations and baby steps by technology giants such as Microsoft that create certain elements of the metaverse for a specific purpose, though they have not figured out a way to open the gateway to a full slate of immersive experiences.
Facebook’s Oculus VR Headsets and the Next Generation of Technology
To quote Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is a virtual environment that users can actually go inside of, instead of experiencing it by staring at a screen. To this end, Facebook has used its Oculus VR headsets, which have had mixed reviews, to access Horizon Workrooms, a virtual space for companies that want to hold business and other meetings – following the remote working trend that has emerged in the COVID era.
The newest version of the technology – the Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, has received better reviews from the likes of Popular Mechanics and industry publications.
To be successful, the metaverse experience needs to stretch far beyond virtual meetings, into social media, showrooms, fashion and other realms.
Facebook has already announced a new headset, the Meta Cambria, which will replace the Oculus technology with a higher priced, head mounted display that can be used to access the metaverse and provide more features.
Microsoft Virtual Platform Access
Microsoft, which already has Microsoft Teams as part of its Office 365 suite of products, has announced Mesh for Teams. This technology will directly compete with Horizon Workrooms and Zoom as an enterprise level metaverse that retains all the features of Teams but augments it to offer viewers an immersive experience in a Teams setting, per Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Microsoft will use AR and VR technology to let companies create their own virtual meeting spaces, with users joining through their unique avatars. Mesh is currently slated to be launched in 2022, though its not clear whether the virtual work spaces and meeting rooms will be full operational by then.
Apple’s Mixed Reality Wearable Headsets
There is strong market chatter that Apple will be coming out with its own AR-VR driven headset that will directly challenge the Meta Cambria. The technology is rumored to be available as early as 2022. They are saying that the devices will feature mixed-reality VR hardware along with some AR capabilities.
The technology, which could be called Apple Glass, is an advanced version of the Measure app, an iPhone feature, Apple’s Measure technology adds a 3D perception by taking measurements of physical objects viewed through the iPhone and displaying it on the screen. Apple Glass is supposed to look like a standard pair of wearable glasses with the AR feature built in.
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Lots of Other Access “Keys” are in Development
Besides Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Google, there are a number of other big names that are actively crafting their own metaverse platforms and developing VR-AR hardware that their users can use to fully enjoy their experiences.
Examples include the following:
Chipmaker Nvidia has created the Omniverse, which it intends to develop into an open and accessible platform that will teleport users within their metaverse to other company metaverses – the same way as users can browse between different websites today.
The gaming world is always changing, and this time Epic Games decided to take the reins of their own version of a metaverse. Fortnite, built by Epic Games is a survival game where players drop onto an island and fight to be the last player standing as a storm closes in around them, forcing everyone closer together.
Roblox is a platform where players can create and play in virtual worlds. The Roblox team wants to empower their community with tools that facilitate an environment for safety while also providing the necessary relationship-building resources as they exist within real life.
The consumer products space is also moving towards access to their products through the metaverse. Gucci is working with Roblox to produce digital-only accessories. Coca Cola and Clinique have issued tokens that would serve as a stepping stone towards their versions of the metaverse.
While the specific access devices have not been developed in all the above cases, they are sure to emerge in the next couple of years.
Limitations to be Overcome
There are a number of concerns about the impact the metaverse could have in terms of protecting users’ interests and critical information, and how vulnerable to hacks some of the existing blockchain driven platforms might be.
From the technology angle, specifically, the current limitations of the internet – which often curb the ability of users to freely access every possible “space” from every possible source – will have to be resolved before a vast, infinite and interconnected metaverse can materialize.
How Do I Access the Metaverse: The Final Word
As the discussion above shows, the question “how do I access the metaverse?” does not have a straightforward answer since technology development and internet limitations clash while the imagination runs wild.
A better question then might be “how do I access the metaverse today?”, followed by “how will I access the metaverse in the future?”.
There are many exciting technologies being developed, and now that the tech giants are in a footrace, the chances are that accessing metaverse platforms is going to get easier, and possibly cheaper, over the next few years.