Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg mentioned tech’s latest buzzword — the ‘metaverse’ — 16 times on his company’s most recent earnings call last month. The future of Facebook, he said, is a metaverse—a virtual environment where you can be physically present to hang out, play games, work and create.
Tech companies ranging from Intel to Unity Software talked up the metaverse last year.
And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussed the “the enterprise metaverse” in his company’s earnings release last month — a day before Facebook’s call. Facebook sells virtual reality headsets, while Microsoft sells augmented reality devices designed for business use.
Apple is widely reported to be working on AR devices of its own.
Nvidia’s vast library of artificial intelligence chips and the software required to run them would also have a key place in a so-called metaverse.
But a world through VR also has plenty of drawbacks. For many, the experience can be hot, sweaty, and even nauseating.
And much like social media itself, there is still ongoing debate as to whether prolonged use of VR is physically safe—especially for children whose eyes are still developing.
Big tech can probably build the metaverse. But consumers will have to think hard about whether they want to be there.