The Metaverse; Is this the Future of Digital Interactions?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been the talk of the internet community in the recent past; according to Collins dictionary, NFT took the word of year in 2021. This comes as no surprise given the value proposition of this nascent innovation space in revolutionizing art and digital ecosystems in the virtual era. Most notably, NFTs have paved the way for more advanced digital interactions through the metaverse, otherwise dubbed Web 3.0 or the decentralized web.
While there exists various definitions of the metaverse, most of them are explaining a similar concept in different words; a futuristic iteration of the internet supported by virtual reality and blockchain technology. In this new digital world, human beings can interact as avatars or simply exist inside computer systems, more like a combination of science fiction and futurism. That said, the idea of metaverse is now attracting both individuals and institutions.
Last year, Facebook rebranded to Meta, triggering other tech giants such as Microsoft to consider launching their own metaverse. The latter is currently in the process of acquiring U.S based video game publisher Activision Blizzard, a move that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella believes will be fundamental in building the next era of digital applications,
“When we talk about the metaverse, we’re describing both a new platform and a new application type, similar to how we talked about the web and websites in the early ’90s,” noted Nadella in a keynote address.
The Interoperability Gap in the Metaverse
As is the case with any nascent innovation, the existing metaverse ecosystems are facing some challenges. Web 3.0 platforms such as The Sandbox and Decentraland operate in isolation, the users on these virtual worlds are limited to a single platform. For example, a land parcel owner on Decentraland cannot interact with another investor who owns virtual property on The Sandbox or any other metaverse ecosystem.
Should this really be the case? If the metaverse is a replica of the real-world, participants ought be able to interact with anyone who is present in any virtual world. Otherwise innovators can build infinite metaverse worlds, ultimately eroding the value of buying property; after all, one can simply create their own virtual world with friends or colleagues. To this end, the likes of Mark Zuckerbeg agree that creating the metaverse should be a combined effort,
“The metaverse will not be created by one company. It will be built by creators and developers making new experiences and digital items that are interoperable and unlock a massively larger creative economy than the one constrained by today’s platforms and their policies.” noted the CEO of Meta in the 2021 founder’s letter.
Looking Into the Horizon
With the metaverse set to balloon into a trillion dollar economy, it is inevitable for stakeholders to address the interoperability gap for the masses to be convinced in its value proposition. While it may seem like a tall order for now, cross-chain and bridging solutions in other crypto niches such Decentralized Finance (DeFi) have made it possible for users to transact across different chains without leaving their native wallets.
Why not in the metaverse? The emergence of Web 3.0 platforms such as Looking Glass Labs (LGL) might offer a reprieve, this project specializes in building NFT architecture, immersive metaverse environments and play-to-earn models. More importantly, LGL’s leading brand ‘House of Kibaa’ designs the next generation of 3D metaverse assets, featuring a cross-chain functionality across different NFT ecosystems.
Looking ahead, interoperability will be a big factor in the value retention of metaverse property and digital collectibles. Investors will feel much safer holding assets that can be transferred to other virtual worlds or sold in any marketplace, regardless of the blockchain ecosystem. So far, innovators are heeding to the calls, with Web 3.0 innovators such as LGL setting the stage for an interoperable metaverse.
The 21st century has ushered in a lot of technological innovations, what started with a static web has evolved to an interactive ecosystem, giving rise to popular applications like Twitter and Facebook. Well, it is now time for another upgrade, the metaverse is gradually becoming a reality that could soon be embraced by the least expected institutions. As the saying goes, shape up or ship out; no one wants to be left behind.
However, in its current state, the metaverse is not ready for mass adoption. Both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 stakeholders should allocate more resources towards solving the shortcomings that are hindering the growth of virtual worlds. At the very core, we need interoperability solutions that will facilitate value transfer from one metavrse to another. This will be a big plus in building tomorrow’s digital ecosystems.