The Metaverse: Its History and Connection to Crypto
The metaverse concept has long captivated science fiction fans and continues to do so. Now, with modern technology's development and the Internet's increasing presence, the metaverse is becoming a reality. Blockchain technology is proving integral in its emergence, providing a decentralized, secure base for its construction.
The idea of a metaverse was first introduced in the early '90s in the science fiction community. In recent years, technological advances have resulted in the concept evolving and gaining more traction as a viable digital platform for social and economic engagement.
The emergence of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency has been integral to the progress of the metaverse, and numerous projects have leveraged these technologies to create a decentralized, immersive virtual world. In this article, we will look back at the history of the metaverse and examine the part that cryptocurrency has played in its advancement.
What Is the Metaverse?
What is the metaverse? While not fully defined, the general consensus is that it is a virtual realm that combines our offline and digital worlds. It has been referred to as the successor to the Internet, providing users with engaging and immersive online experiences.
It is no easy task to define the metaverse since it is a broad concept comprising more than one item, service, or endeavor. Multiple technologies must be combined and synchronized to create the metaverse, such as the Internet, AR, VR, AI, 3D reconstruction, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The term "metaverse" originates from science fiction, which depicts it as an incredibly immersive and interactive virtual world. Now, thanks to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, we are closer than ever to bringing this concept to life.
Web3 has proven that the concept of a metaverse isn't just a figment of the imagination but a potential reality. Its expansive ecosystem offers a lucrative market for developers to create new DApps that take advantage of the metaverse — from play-to-earn (P2E) games like Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, and Decentraland to platforms that merge digital experiences with reality, forming a connection between elements of daily life and the online world.
Evolution of the Metaverse
As technological advances and new concepts have unfolded over time, our understanding of the metaverse has evolved and become more substantial. From binocular sight to the introduction of Bitcoin and Ethereum to the rebranding of Facebook, the roots of the metaverse have taken shape.
In 1838 Sir Charles Wheatstone described the concept of "binocular vision" and constructed a single 3D image credited as the earliest instance of VR. The initial research into optics led to the invention of stereoscopes, a tool that generates a 3D-like image using the illusion of depth. This same technology is now employed in modern virtual reality headsets.
The book Pygmalion's Spectacles by American sci-fi author Stanley Weinbaum opened readers' eyes to the possibility of virtual reality. The book focuses on a main character wearing a pair of goggles that make his fictional world seem real by mimicking all human senses.
The first utilization of the phrase "virtual reality" or "la réalité virtuelle" is often attributed to the French poet and playwright Antonin Artaud. Artaud positioned it at the center of his collection of essays, The Theater and its Double, where he talked about the potential of theaters to craft new and alternative realities through the employment of characters, objects, and images.
An American filmmaker, Morton Heilig, created a revolutionary machine named Sensorama which allowed users to feel like they were riding a motorcycle in another place. This device drew users in by providing a combination of features such as a vibrating seat, sensory simulations, and 3D screens. Although the concept never made it past the prototype stage, it demonstrated the potential of mixing illusion and reality.
Jaron Lanier and Thomas G. Zimmerman, the visionaries of virtual reality, founded VPL Research, Inc., the world's first firm to construct and sell VR artifacts like head-mounted displays and data gloves (or wired gloves).
A British computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, conceptualized the World Wide Web while employed at CERN. The web was initially designed to enable universities and other institutions to share resources and information with other entities around the globe.
In Neal Stephenson's science fiction novel Snow Crash, the concept of a metaverse was introduced. Stephenson effectively depicted a dark side of the virtual world by presenting a bleak vision of the future, with people embracing digital avatars to take refuge in an improved alternate reality.
Invented by computer scientists Moni Naor and Cynthia Dwork, the proof-of-work (PoW) concept was created as a means of preventing service misuses, such as network spam and denial-of-service attacks. This concept requires a service requester to provide proof of work, like computer processing time, in order to control unwanted network behavior.
Linden Lab developed Second Life, a multimedia platform that allows users to explore, communicate, and create in a shared virtual space without any goggles or gloves. Unlike most games, Second Life is not meant to be a competition or a challenge but rather an online gathering place wherein anyone can create a digital identity.
Roblox Corporation created the game platform Roblox, allowing users to explore a variety of multi-player games. They can even build their own games and share them with others. While playing Roblox is entirely free, users can spend Robux, their virtual money, in the in-game store to purchase exclusive items.
Google incorporated Street View into its Maps product, giving users the ability to experience a streetscape as if they were actually there. With Street View, users can now turn a map into a realistic representation of a street, building, or any other place — all from the comfort of their own devices.
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled Bitcoin, the first major decentralized blockchain and cryptocurrency, and he went on to mine the very first Bitcoin in 2009.
In 2012, Palmer Luckey, an entrepreneur, launched Oculus, a headset that was able to connect users to a realistic 3D virtual world. They were able to collaborate, socialize, and even enjoy entertainment. In 2014, Facebook, with the dream of bringing the technology to a wider audience, purchased Oculus.
Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash made history when they created the first-ever non-fungible token (NFT), Quantum. Containing a pixelated octagon, it was minted on the Namecoin blockchain and, though the concept was thought of as "monetized graphics," it would later be recognized as the starting point of NFT technology.
In 2013, Vitalik Buterin wrote a blog post called Ethereum: The Ultimate Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform, in which he proposed the creation of Ethereum. As a decentralized computing platform, Ethereum was then launched in 2015, allowing developers to use smart contracts to develop DApps.
In 2016, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and Pokémon GO emerged in the mainstream. The DAO was the first DAO launched on Ethereum, envisioning a membership structure in which each member would form part of the governing body.
The viral and successful mobile game Pokémon GO leverages augmented reality to connect players to a realistic 3D map of the real world. In 2016, the app skyrocketed to screen-grabbing success with over 500 million downloads and became one of the world's most profitable mobile apps that year.
Facebook rebranded to Meta, establishing the "metaverse" concept as more tangible than just a sci-fi imagination. Since then, the company has heavily invested billions of dollars into creating and acquiring multiple metaverse-related resources like content, software, and Augmented and Virtual Reality headsets.
Siemens and NVIDIA revealed their partnership to enable the Industrial Metaverse. Taking advantage of Siemens' proficiency in industrial automation, software, infrastructure, building technology, and transportation and NVIDIA's fame as a graphics and artificial intelligence pioneer, the two companies seek to create a real-time virtual environment that will connect hardware and software. Siemens CEO expressed optimism on the prospects of this collaboration.
Role of Crypto in the Metaverse
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency serve as essential components for the growth of metaverse development. Firstly, blockchains can serve as the foundation for conducting secure, verifiable transactions within the metaverse, replacing the need for cash or traditional payment methods. Secondly, Ethereum-based NFTs can serve as the basis for creating scarce, unique virtual items inside the metaverse.
Lastly, DApps have the potential to make metaverse services and features more distributed, eliminating the dependence on a single entity for control. This could provide users with improved security and autonomy as they have the ability to own and manage their data and assets. Moreover, this offers a level of protection and independence that is not available through typical centralized applications.
In building the metaverse, techs like VR, AR, and interactive tools enable users to explore the virtual environment and interact with virtual items. Artificial intelligence and natural language processing are also used to craft realistic and engaging avatars to populate the metaverse.
As the metaverse grows and develops, new applications and use cases for blockchain and cryptocurrency are being discovered. These technologies are poised to revolutionize the way individuals interact and transact in the metaverse by providing an open, secure, and efficient atmosphere based on decentralization, trustlessness, and transparency.
The Potential of the Metaverse
In recent years, the development of the metaverse has progressed significantly. Nevertheless, the essential infrastructure and services which would be necessary to fuel its expansion have yet to be fully realized. For example, the technology at the core of virtual worlds must be advanced further to be as immersive and captivating as possible.
In order to facilitate the seamless interaction of users in the metaverse, high-speed and low-latency networks are needed, along with tools and platforms for users to create and share virtual experiences. Furthermore, for the metaverse to be a secure and inclusive environment for all, issues of privacy, security, and governance must be adequately tackled by developers.
As technology like extended reality, AI, machine learning, 3D engines, cloud, edge computing, and 5G connectivity continue to innovate, the metaverse is expected to grow in an immersive, realistic way that mirrors the real world. This heightened level of realism will allow users to experience a digital world as if it were tangible.
It is too soon to determine if the metaverse will be the most successful application of blockchain technology. Nevertheless, blockchain is a logical choice for powering the metaverse due to its ability to provide a secure and verifiable platform for recording transactions, creating digital assets and applications.
First introduced in science fiction literature, TV, and films, the metaverse concept has grown over the years and is now on the cusp of becoming a reality. The expansion of ever more sophisticated technology means that an immersive and shared online environment is now within our reach.
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have had an important effect on aiding the growth of the metaverse. These technologies provide a decentralized and safe platform for virtual transactions and conversations. Although the metaverse is still in its early stages, it can significantly modify how humans live, function, and entertain themselves in the digital realm.