Alessio has reported security vulnerabilities to Google and Apple. He also has a past as a web developer and web server administrator.
Metaverse: Innovation or Bubble?
Metaverse is somewhat of PR stunt when you think about it. Let's face it: Virtual reality is not a new concept. I was looking into buying a VR device long before 'Metaverse' was even word in the newspaper. I mostly use VR for watching movies whenever I want to enjoy an immersive experience. The only difference with the virtual reality we already know is that it has been primarily popular among gamers and people enjoying watching videos in a cinema-like environment.
While it was easy to spot a person using a smartphone on the road, it was not that common to have a neighbor or schoolmate owning a VR device. VR has still gained popularity among a niche, more or less like it happened with drones. In addition, nobody has ever imagined living inside a virtual reality and seeing it as a new world in which to pass entire days, as in the Ready Player One movie. It is an idea that would be mostly good for a science fiction movie, not for real life.
Despite this, somebody believes Metaverse will replace our reality just because a CEO decided to change the name of his company. In this article, I will share some opinions about why the Metaverse, as outlined by the Silicon Valley influencers, is a failure and maybe more of a speculative bubble than actual innovation.
VR Devices: Are They Always Comfortable?
The first reason is all about comfort. It is undoubtedly true that most of the advanced VR devices may have improved a lot in terms of comfort when compared with older or cheaper devices; still, we cannot deny two critical aspects:
- VR devices are usually heavy;
- VR devices heat up, especially with prolonged use: a limitation that nobody can deny. Even an advanced high-end smartphone, with the display always turned on and maybe a video game running for a long time, tends to heat up, so no miracle can prevent this from happening to a VR device.
Are you ready to live most of your time in the Metaverse? If yes, get used to keeping a heavy and hot device on your nose for most of your time. If this is not a problem for you (even during those lovely afternoons in the middle of July), congratulations, as you are ready to live an entire existence in the Metaverse.
Virtual Reality Is Not Real Enough
Let's think about this: When you wear a VR device, are you seriously experiencing the same reality you would feel without it? You can recognize the differences between the real and virtual worlds. When using VR, a display surrounds your eyes: the Metaverse is, of course, brighter than the real world. Everyone can feel the difference between the two things: are you sure you can live in such a vivid environment for most of your time?
Try to think about how you feel after watching a movie at the cinema: Your eyes get used to a giant and bright screen, and then, when the movie ends, and the lights turn on, you get up and exit the room. First, you feel a general alienation sensation, as the cinema experience is very immersive. The real world feels a little dark for some minutes when your eyes are so used to that bright screen in front of which you have seen an entire movie.
Now try to imagine what it would be the feeling after having spent most of your day in virtual reality, as the Metaverse, as explained recently, is something that would make us glued to our devices. Honestly, it's something I would never want to try, as that would mean living in a persistent alienation that would make me feel the Metaverse even more real than the actual life.
The Metaverse, intended as a new reality where people even spend lots of money to buy virtual houses or yachts, will fail.
What the Metaverse Can't Replace
As written before, Metaverse can't replace the actual reality.
- We cannot go to the toilet in the Metaverse: maybe we can wear VR to see our WC as a throne (if it is an essential improvement to the satisfaction of our physiological needs), but we can't buy and use toilet paper in the Metaverse.
- We cannot sleep in the Metaverse, as we have a real bed to prepare, nor can we leave our houses dirty or forget the existence of water and shower gel (please, Metaverse or not, get a real shower, and don't forget to take out the VR device before washing your hair and face).
- We have actual bills to pay (and no, you cannot charge your VR device in the Metaverse, so don't forget to pay your bills in time, in the actual reality), food to eat (you cannot feed yourself with pixels), and water to drink.
And, let's not forget it, we have a material VR device. If we need to replace it, we will surely not do it in the virtual world. Our new life in the Metaverse is so natural that it depends on a battery's durability; even Borgs in Star Trek have a more human existence.
In the Metaverse, we can maybe see our friends as avatars, Isn't it lovely to talk to and maybe kiss an avatar. Perhaps we can dance together in virtual clubs. Pay attention to your house, your real one, as hitting your head against the kitchen hood the moment you get on the cube is not a pleasant experience.
Indeed, we will not dine in the Metaverse or have breakfast at a virtual cafe. No, maybe we can do it if we like to sit in front of a real coffee machine (yes, you need to go back to real life for a minute at least to make coffee) and then wear back the VR to be suddenly in a Hollywood cafe drinking with friends...I mean, avatars of friends. Don't forget to wash the coffee cup after all of this (in the real world and with water)!
Are the reasons explained above enough to think of Metaverse as a total failure in practical terms? I think yes, unless we start to welcome virtual reality as a new technology that can be part of our real life, like smartphones and computers, and not as something meant to replace it. Otherwise, let's wait for this new virtual world and all the funny implications it will have when people suddenly discover how nice it is to use virtual toilet paper and eat virtual pizza.
I think I'll continue to use VR to watch some movies, play immersive games for no more than 20-30 minutes, and wander through Street View without giving up cinemas or travels—the most logical way of enjoying virtual reality I can imagine. I am not going to buy a house in the Metaverse and see it as the new world where I'll spend the rest of my life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Alessio Ganci