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What in the World is the Metaverse?

The metaverse — no longer just an imaginary place in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” — is a virtual reality-based successor to the internet. Futuristic? Possibly, but real.

Think about the internet as a decentralized network of networks, an architecture of sorts — a collection of documents, images, multimedia, applications and other resources. Now think about the physical world: people working, living, connecting and socializing. The metaverse, in simple terms, combines the two in an alternate or parallel universe to the physical world.

Immersive technology, which cohesively meshes real and virtual environments, enables us to live, work, eat and make purchases within the metaverse landscape.

“The metaverse will be an interoperable network of virtual/immersive spaces, easily navigable,” said Rabindra Ratan, associate professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University.

He predicted that as elements required for interoperability develop, allowing people to carry their virtual goods to different virtual worlds (e.g., avatars), the metaverse will emerge more fully.

Regardless, the metaverse is no longer a mere niche concept of tech enthusiasts. News headlines informing us that Facebook rebranded as Meta, virtual spaces like “Roblox” and “Fortnite,” the ability to have interest in purely digital ownership, and an influx of nonfungible tokens and cryptocurrency use further epitomize the certainty of the metaverse.

From video-based education, widely favored in the face of the pandemic, to online social communities, the metaverse isn’t as foreign as one might think. For companies like Immersed, a pioneering metaverse productivity company, team members meet, work and socialize via the metaverse daily.

Ryan Feldman, researcher, developer and remote-first Immersed employee from his home-based office in Detroit, said the future is now.

“Our company uses our product daily to make the solo work experience as seamless as possible,” he said. “The Immersed team and I are neck-deep in the metaverse today.”

The metaverse promises an interwoven experience between our digital and physical lives in terms of wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping and entertainment with the help of headsets and other tools to allow fully immersive experiences. Feldman said that Immersed, an app used to bring your computer and/or phone into virtual reality, and a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Quest 2 are the main components required to immerse yourself in the metaverse — a place where “a superhuman level of focus and productivity” is possible.