Do you remember the date of your country's independence day or any important event that happened in your life? In most of the cases you are able to give the date to the day or even to the minutes. It is way easier to give the date of an actual event or a discovery than to tell exactly when certain trends or era has started. The best example is the era of renaissance, we know it started in Europe in the 15th century, but for scientists and historians there are three different dates when that era actually began: the fall of Constantinople (1453), the invention of the print (1452--1455), the discovery of America (1492).
Same problem goes with technology. It is easy to say when something was invented or released, but it is way harder to tell when and if something has started a new era or become widely used. The most recent example is metaverse. Following media headlines and articles we can say that for many companies and people 2022 is the year of the metaverse. It seems like everything started in the Autumn 2021 and before no one was interested in this topic, but then overnight it started to be the main topic on IT blogs and news websites.
Talking about new trends may sometimes be like fortune telling. But looking at how many big companies put their interest and investment in metaverse, may mean that we people from the software industry should get way more familiar with the topic and what it means for us. Following recent news and job openings in this sector we may see that they have the most aggressive belief in Metaverse future. The main tech giants want to own and define the Metaverse, not merely lead it like they do in the age of the internet.
But let's start from the beginning before we jump into the topic...
What is metaverse?
From the language point of view "Metaverse" is a connection of two words:
Meta - from the Greek language, meaning "more comprehensive" or "transcending";
And part of the word - UniVerse;
In the other words "Metaverse" stands for "something that transcends the universe".
Despite the media articles and what many claim - Zuckerberg is not the inventor of the word "Metaverse". The word appeared for the first time in a cyberpunk novel "Snow Crash" written by Neal Stephenson.
From the modern and technological point of view - metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection and interaction. In the near future the services delivered by the internet will be replaced and delivered in the metaverse in 3D.
Same as the internet, metaverse will not be one thing. It will be a living organism that has many purposes, ways of use, features and possibilities. In a nutshell the metaverse will be a collection of new technologies that include AI, virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality, Blockchain and cryptocurrency. I know that is a big nutshell, right?
Despite the recent and huge interest in metaverse topic, the technology/vision has been already implemented and attempted to be in use:
The first metaverse application/platform was created almost 20 years ago. Developers from Linden Lab released in 2003 "Second Life". The platform allows users to create avatars for themselves and socially interact with other users. Sounds familiar to things presented by Microsoft or Facebook, pardon - Meta?
The world's famous computer game "Minecraft" also contains elements of metaverse.
Fortnite - is another example from the computer games which allows you to personalize your character for real money or even attend concerts of real stars. Currently the game is becoming the next communication platform for the youngest generations. For some of the users you talk on Fortnite with the others, not about Fortnite.
The above examples are still isolated in their own ecosystems, they are not connected to other ecosystems and communities - simply they do not interfere. Second Life and Minecraft are built in different technologies but in an ideal "Metaverse" parts of it would be able to interfere.
What is the future of software developers and metaverse?
I do not think Metaverse will ultimately change the landscape of programming and development in the next few years, but it is always better to stay prepared and up to date.
Many of us may simply have forgotten, but a few years ago we had a similar revolution in programming. Namely with the premiere of the first iPhone, developers and software companies started to shift their coding skills from developing computer programs to smartphone apps.
Most popular metaverse projects
Despite that the Metaverse topic does not seem to be so fresh as many think, a standardized technical specification for metaverse implementations has not been widely adopted. Current most popular implementations are mostly based on proprietary technology. Years ago a few organizations tried to standardize metaverse related projects:
Currently the most popular projects unifying and standardizing metaverse projects are:
Universal Scene Description (USD) - a computer graphics framework invented by Pixar
The main focus of USD is collaboration, non-destructive editing of graphics data. It is hard to predict whether Universal Scene Description will be the standard or one of the important foundations in the modern metaverse. So far the following projects and companies support USD: 3ds Max, Maya Supports, Apple's SceneKit, Nvidia and their Omniverse;
On the other side we have OpenXR which is an open standard for access to virtual and augmented reality devices and experiences. It has been adopted by Microsoft for HoloLens, Meta Platforms for the Oculus Quest, and Valve for SteamVR.
But as a software developer where does it put you in this brand new meta world? For sure learning about Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Blockchain, NFTs or 3D graphics rendering, will not hurt and has never been as important as it is now. Blockchain and NFT are closer to the web3 idea, but they have potential to be a key concept in metaverse and virtual property projects.
If you are a developer who loves to learn by practice, a really great way to familiarize yourself with metaverse would be to join an NFT project or a blockchain game (like Treeverse) as a developer.
Great sources to learn more about metaverse from the companies like
Webaverse - Metaverse Makers Organization
Job market in 2030 - Metaverse related jobs
Software development is not the only way to find your way into metaverse business. Last year Honeypot.io - developers job platform, released a list of jobs that will exist by 2030 thanks to metaverse. Below you may find some of them:
A skilled Metaverse Planner should have a solid set of skills like management, marketing, and business mindsets, as well as a strong entrepreneurial perspective. Execution of ideas may be costly. It is a crucial phase to be able to plan and implement all of the capabilities that are required in Metaverse.
Metaverse Hardware Builder
The Metaverse will be made up of more than just code. There will also be sensors and cameras built inside the devices. If someone touches you online, sensors will make you feel touched. All of the hardware that will bring the digital and physical worlds together will require careful planning and financial resources. The devices for the Metaverse, like smartphones, will require ongoing advancements and, like the Metaverse, will become more complicated as time goes on.
Many of the talents required currently to be a videogame designer may be required for this profession, and with a potentially whole different set of rules. World Builders will need to be forward-thinking and forward-looking, because much of what they will dream of will not yet exist as a technology or a product solution.
Companies working on metaverse
The phrase "metaverse" is a broad one. It mainly refers to shared virtual world environments that may be accessed through the internet. As we mentioned before, big companies are already working on their metaverse projects. Below you may find some examples:
Amazon - most obviously, it will always want to be the main place where we order things. Thanks to metaverse it will make no difference whether the purchase has been made within a game engine, a virtual environment, or a web browser.
Facebook has stated that it prefers to be known as a metaverse corporation rather than a social media firm.
Microsoft is aiming to develop a "enterprise metaverse" as the digital and physical worlds intersect in its offerings. The company has hundreds of millions of federated user identities through Office 365 and LinkedIn, is the world's second largest cloud vendor, has an extensive suite of work-related software and services spanning all infrastructure, clear technical experience in massive shared online content/operations, and a set of potential gateway experiences through Minecraft, Xbox + Xbox Live, and HoloLens.
Nvidia developed the Omniverse platform to combine 3D worlds into a shared virtual reality.
The world's largest fashion brands have also tried virtual clothing - people's avatars/characters can wear them in the metaverse world.
Even if the visions, technologies, and capabilities I have presented above become a reality, this may happen years away. In the end, there is too much we do not know about the Metaverse. In reality, the Metaverse is most likely the result of a network of platforms and technologies cooperating.
If you need additional information about metaverse, check the following article: