We are already experiencing Metaverse in our daily lives. Many companies are investing in metaverses, assuring that metaverses will expand further. How should we understand and accept Metaverses? ..........Ed
Metaverse is a combination of many terms, referring to transcendence, change, and Universe. It first appeared in 1992 in the novel ‘Snow Crash’ by American science fiction writer Neil Stevenson, referring to a virtual world that can be entered through a virtual avatar.
In fact, Metaverse is not a new concept that has recently emerged. ‘Cyworld,’ which gained huge popularity in the early 2000s, can also be seen as part of the Metaverse. Currently, ‘Minecraft,’ ‘Animal Crossing,’ and ‘Fortnite’ are examples of metaverses. In Silicon Valley, Metaverse is the next version of the Internet, and big companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already invested heavily. Facebook recently announced the ‘Horizon Project,’ a virtual world social platform. In Korea, Naver has developed ‘Geppetto,’ a platform that creates a virtual world by using face recognition and Augmented Reality. It is becoming a sensation internationally.
Investment and interest in Metaverses are accelerating due to the untact trend caused by COVID-19. Since it is currently in the early stages, it is being developed mainly in the entertainment and game industries. It will be actively introduced in more diverse areas in the future. Let’s explore the hardware technologies being developed to construct the Metaverses.
VR (Virtual Reality)
VR is a type of technology that implements virtual reality, as the word implies. It realizes another world by delivering the various digital information that constitutes virtual reality to humans through sight, hearing, and touch. The key is to create a world so close to reality that people mistake it for reality. Above all, it is important to block users from the real world. Therefore, VR devices are focused on separating reality from human senses and increasing immersion.
However, there is a limit to VR. First, there are technical limitations to content. VR blocks users’ sight and hearing, and provides new content through monitors and speakers. However, a sense of alienation arises because it does not provide new experience for the rest of the senses, such as touch and smell. If you try to touch something in the virtual reality you see in front of you, there is nothing you can grab, and you will be waving your hands in the air. Because of this sense mismatch, many people complain of motion sickness when using VR devices for a long time. Next is the weight of the device. Since virtual reality must be implemented only with equipment that is used on the head, not only panels but also processors will be installed to express this. A Head Mounted Display (HMD) usually weighs more than 600 grams. Then, since it is attached to the face, it can exert too much pressure to the wearer when worn for a long time. For these reasons, many companies in the past challenged VR, and reduced their businesses.
AR (Augmented Reality)
AR is the way in which relevant information is added when viewing a scene or space in reality. Since it is a form of projecting the information provided by computers into real images, it allows humans to enjoy reality with more information. It also provides virtual information in real time according to the user’s real-world environment, which is considered to be the closest technology to the real world. Unlike VR, which blocks reality completely, the working of AR is based on reality. Although the immersion into the virtual world is low, it is highly utilized in everyday life.
AR technology is especially frequently seen in many movies and animation productions. Examples include scenes in which Tony Stark, the main character in ‘Iron Man,’ wears a suit, and information on what agents are seeing when they wear special glasses in ‘The King’s Man.’ It is also actively used in games. This is because the entire world can be used as the background of the game, not as a limited space. A typical AR game is ‘Pokémon Go.’
MR (Mixed Reality)
MR is a combination of VR and AR. The characteristics of VR, which is highly immersive but completely blocked from reality, and the characteristics of AR, which is less immersive due to low interference from reality, are mixed to take advantage of each other and compensate for their disadvantages. Simply put, it is combining elements of virtual reality over the real world.
Some experts say that it is not much different from AR because it is a type of technology that is implemented on top of reality. AR companies often develop more advanced technology, and move on to MR. Therefore, the boundary between AR and MR is a little vague because the MR’s operation is similar to AR’s. It is a way of filming the real world through lenses and glasses, and add more elements of virtual reality on top of them. Content and hardware are also similar to AR. It is mainly used for medical and industrial purposes.
As many people are interested in Metaverse, there is a high possibility for Metaverse technology to grow. The world is looking forward to how these technologies will implement metaverses realistically in the future. Experts argue that metaverses will make a more significant difference than the changes brought by telephones and the Internet. There are still technical limitations to overcome, but it is clear that it is time to prepare for the changes that Metaverse will bring.
Oh Joo-eun (News Editor)