el metaverso, un mundo totalmente virtual

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The development of emerging disruptive technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and especially virtual reality along with the improvement of 5G communications have set the path for the creation of new virtual universes, or metaverses, that have endless possibilities. What is known as the next big evolution of the Internet (Web3 or the Decentralized Web) is a virtual world that, along with cryptocurrency and NFTs (non fungible tokens) are set to make a revolutionary change, from the manner in which we relate with each other to the way we work or enjoy our free time. 

What is the Metaverse?

The word metaverse is a portmanteau that combines the Greek prefix "meta" (beyond) and "universe", and is understood to be a universe that is beyond the one we currently know. The idea is to create a digital world that can be accessed via virtual reality and extended reality devices, in such a way that interactions we experience within it mirror what we experience in reality. 

The term "metaverse" appeared for the first time in 1992 in the science fiction book, Snow Crash by US author Neal Stephenson. In the novel, the main characters use terminals and special goggles that project them to a virtual area in three dimensions where their avatars interact with each other and their surroundings.

However, if we really want to know the origin of virtual worlds, we have to go back to 1978, when Richard Bartle created MUD, a real-time, multi-player game now considered to be the first example of a virtual world. A couple decades later, he launched Second Life, the first online multimedia platform that lets users create an avatar and live a second life in a virtual community.

Since then, there have been various representations and applications of the concept. In 2017, the videogame Fortnight (from Epic Games) began to explore the interaction between people and technology by expanding the focus from just game to including social events where millions of players gather at the same time around the world. As another example, the visionary film director Steven Spielberg popularized the idea of a multiverse in the film adaptation of Ready Player One, a science fiction novel from US author Ernest Cline, which served to put together an idea of how we imagine the Metaverse to be. 

una chica con gafas de realidad virtual y su avatar

Characteristics of the Metaverse

In the past few years, we've witnessed the revolution of mobile internet, which has allowed us to access our applications and social networks online in real time from anywhere. The main characteristic of the metaverse is that access to these virtual environments is a completely immersive experience. 

Via an avatar, we can report to work meetings in a virtual office, attend concerts or sporting events, acquire digital assets, or even create new distribution channels for goods and services. 

Below, we'll go over the main characteristics of this new concept of internet that, as we've seen above, is in full expansion mode. 

  • Immersive: with the arrival of the metaverse, access to virtual online spaces will be possible through augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. New devices, such as virtual reality headsets, haptic suits, and wearable sensors will allow users to appear as an avatar in a virtual world and move and interact in this environment where the border blurs between the digital and physical dimension. 
  • Interconnected: The metaverse is understood as an ecosystem that will connect the multitude of applications and services that form part of it. In this way, interoperability is another of the fundamental characteristics of this online universe in which users can interact simultaneously with various applications at the same time. In other words, it will be possible to "go" to different themed virtual spaces or interrupt an activity to start another without leaving the metaverse.
  • Governed by its own laws: This evolution of the internet toward a digital multiverse with infinite possibilities that is going to completely change the way we work, socialize, consume, and learn, implies an unprecedented legal challenge. On the one hand, laws regulating the actual avatars that allow users to explore and interact in the metaverse will be necessary. The economy is another of the great challenges posed by this virtual universe, especially because besides being able to use real money in our virtual transactions, we'll also be able to exchange cryptocurrency and other cryptoassets as a form of payment.
  • Uninterrupted: Users will have the possibility of interacting among themselves and with the digital world in real time, but when they leave this ecosystem, it will continue to exist, expand, and advance. So, metaverse will put an end to "game over".
  • Visionary: The metaverse, as envisaged today, is a long-term project that is still in the early stages of development. There are major technology companies investing in the creation of software and hardware to bring this extremely potential virtual community to life for businesses and society in general. For now, it may not promise much return on immediate investments, but large firms in all sectors are already including paths in their strategic plans to make way for the metaverse in order to sell physical and digital goods and services. 

What plans do major tech companies have in the works for the metaverse?

The metaverse is a virtual world under construction that could imply a revolutionary change in mobile internet in the coming years. Tech companies in all fields are collaborating to develop apps and tools that would make this virtual ecosystem a reality. They're focused on three main areas: leisure activities, business settings, and as a tool for social interactions. These developments would mean a new digital economy based on innovative experiences, digital products, and financing mechanisms. Below, we're going to have a look at some examples of these plans for boosting the metaverse. 

un chico jugando a un videojuego dentro del metaverso

Roblox Corporation, Epic Games (Tencent)

The aim of these platforms is to create digital worlds for videogames where users meet in 3D settings to experience and enjoy live events and to socialize. In addition to creating the actual virtual universe, these companies are pioneers in another of the technologies that will mark the future of the metaverse: digital currency transactions. This represents an unprecedented business model that offers the possibility of making payments, enhancing user experience, and improving brand relationships.  

dos niños con gafas de realidad virtual para acceder al metaverso

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft is also rolling out an ambitious plan to incorporate immersive virtual experiences into its platforms. The company is developing a business metaverse that seeks to enliven Teams meetings and make them more interactive by using animated avatars in 2D and 3D meetings. In parallel, it considers the metaverse an excellent opportunity to create new 3D experiences in its videogames division.

With this objective in mind, it has recently acquired Activision Blizzard, one of the largest videogame companies in the world, with nearly 400 million active users in 190 countries. The ultimate goal is twofold: first, to enhance its tech base through the creation of avatars and the rendering of videogames; then, to promote the creation of metaverses in its current videogames.

Una mujer interactuando en un espacio dentro del metaverso gracias a la realidad virtual

Meta Platforms, Inc. 

In 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook Connect event that the company was going to change its name to Meta Platforms, Inc. as a demonstration of its commitment to the metaverse as the next evolution of the best-known social network in the world. The head of the corporation has already reported advances in a series of areas ⁠— from new hardware devices to software for building and exploring this new immersive version of the internet. Zuckerberg has signaled that his research team's efforts will be focused on developing virtual reality tools and on exploring new ways for artificial intelligence to learn on its own. 

Repsol and the Metaverse

equipo de realidad virtual sobre paneles solares

Repsol has been a leader in the Oil & Gas sector for 30 years due to our capacity to anticipate changes and adapt the organization to new scenarios, technologies, and ways of working. In this way, we conceived the metaverse as an excellent opportunity for creating a new channel for communication with our stakeholders centered around four action areas:

  • Professionals: A virtual meeting point for creating a sense of belonging and for attending to the needs of our professionals.
  • Investors: a space for promoting virtual networking.
  • Commercial: a universe for enhancing our brand image and bringing it closer to our customers.
  • Client and supplier relations: An ecosystem that offers visual support so that our clients and suppliers can interact with our products and services.