Technology · June 23, 2022

What is the Metaverse and why does Facebook rely on it?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice in the hype surrounding the “Metaverse,” a virtual reality version of the web that the tech giant sees as the future.

The Metaverse, short for “meta universe,” is a digital world where the real and the virtual merge into a sci-fi vision, allowing people to move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment.

In practice, it refers to augmented and virtual reality products and services.

On Monday, Facebook announced in a blog post that it would hire 10,000 employees in the European Union to build the Metaverse.

“The metaverse has the potential to unlock access to new creative, social and economic opportunities. And Europeans will shape it from the start,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“Today we are announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs across the European Union (EU) over the next five years.”

The social media giant also said investing in the EU offers many benefits, including access to a large consumer market, world-class universities and highly skilled talent.

What is the metaverse?

The term denotes a cyberspace parallel to physical reality in which a community of people can interact in the form of avatars. The concept was coined by author Neal Stephenson in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. It refers to the merging of physical, augmented and virtual reality in a shared online space.

Some video game communities have already created meta-universe embryos, such as Roblox (a platform that includes countless games created by children and teenagers) or Fortnite (a shooter and survival game with 350 million players).

In April, more than 12 million gamers watched five virtual concerts by rapper Travis Scott, who appeared as an avatar in Fortnite.

Gradually, screens, holograms, VR headsets, and augmented reality goggles will enable fluid “movements” of virtual universes in physical locations, a process Zuckerberg likened to “teleportation.”

“The ultimate social technology”

Facebook has previously announced it is creating a product team to work specifically on metaverse-related projects.

“I expect that in the coming years people will no longer see us primarily as a social media company, but rather as a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said in July.

“In many ways, the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology”.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality, acquiring hardware like the Oculus VR headset and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

It’s also bought a bevy of VR gaming studios, including BigBox VR. It has about 10,000 employees working on virtual reality, The Information reported in March.

Zuckerberg has said he thinks it makes sense to invest deeply to shape what he believes will be the next great computing platform.

“I believe that the ‘metaverse’ will be the successor to the mobile web, and the creation of this product line is the next step in our journey to build it,” he said in a Facebook post in July.

He told The Verge in July, “If we do this well, I think in the next five years or so…we’re going to effectively go from the people who see us primarily as a social media company to a ‘metaverse’- become a company.”