PETALING JAYA: In Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s universe, the virtual meeting room is the future.
Everyone, no matter where you are, can gather in this room to talk business or chat. It is not unlike the Matrix movies where everyone can meet in a computer-generated venue or conference room. Much like Zoom with a bang.
But whether or not the new technology, called metaverse, has a practical purpose is debatable.
The metaverse is, in technical term, a “virtual and augmented reality-based digital world connected to the internet”. It does turn fantasy into reality, in a way.
Nonetheless, the reality of metaverse is still about five to 10 years away. The first steps may have been taken, but the technical challenges have yet to be overcome, and the price is still relatively high.
But, according to computer science and information technology expert Dr Amirruddin Kamsin, it has become more relevant given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to work remotely.
As Amirruddin, a Universiti Malaya senior lecturer, explains it, the metaverse is the use of multiple elements of technology – augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the simple video – to get everyone together for a “live” event.
But just like the VR games that have been around for years now, expensive smart glasses or headsets will still be essential for the virtual world to appear before the user’s eyes.
“If you are just using it at home, the basic AR scanning is still more affordable,” Amirruddin pointed out.
The race to metaverse reality is now basically between Microsoft and Meta, which is the newly set up Facebook unit that’s taking on the challenge.
It may be a little cumbersome to enjoy the full benefit of metaverse. For instance, the headset alone will only take the user this far into the VR-AR-video world, according to artificial intelligence specialist Aizuddin Aguse.
A computer with internet access, smartphone and games console will get you to the door.
To enter this virtual setting, you will need a VR headset, but for a deep immersion and interaction with others, a motion capture suit is a must.
Aizuddin pointed out that it is also essential to have a cryptocurrency account for commercial transactions in the metaverse world.
“This is the currency used in the digital world under the authority of decentralised autonomous organisations,” he told theSun.
More than that, he said, is the knowledge needed in navigating the metaverse world. “This is how one can get the best out of the time spent in the ever-expanding metaverse,” he added.
Luke Raj, a virtual reality expert, pointed out that to a certain extent, metaverse already exists through gaming, animation and virtual reality.
However, Raj believes that for a country such as Malaysia, the take-up rate is expected to be slower. “After all, we are more of a follower than an innovator,” he pointed out.
He noted that for metaverse to come up to speed, the proper infrastructure such as the right bandwidth is essential.
For a start, a cryptocurrency account will be essential given that transactions will be conducted only in digital currencies, he told theSun.
Nonetheless, he expects that with more companies entering the market, metaverse will eventually become affordable for the masses, which will be a boon for social media users.
There is some reality to know about this virtual technology. “More people will be linked through their smartphones so users will have to be educated on how to use it appropriately,” Raj said.
He expects the gaming sector to be among the first to adopt metaverse. Nonetheless, he added, it will also be the future for other sectors such as education and training, tourism and e-commerce.