Metaverse infrastructure: Road to the future
So what infrastructure does this web of metaverses need in order to thrive?
Ah, the Metaverse. What promise it has if the many emerging articles—and a lot of science fiction—are to be believed.
If all goes well, we may soon be exploring endless opportunities afforded with realistic, remote, digital environments. Some of my favorite “what if” scenarios include:
- My meditation zone consists of a small digital cottage I own on an isolated beach environment, where I can spend an hour or a day sitting by the sand, seeing something new each time, and enjoying nature at its (simulated) finest.
- Attending a live concert, where I can see other real people in the crowd and can see my favorite performer actually putting on a show; but it’s on an interstellar yacht with viewing windows showing the ringed planet we are orbiting, a la The Fifth Element.
- Someday download my actual consciousness into a virtual environment when I am ready to “digitally transcend”, creating the soul paradox seen in books such as John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.
The future is amazing, right?!
The only problem is, that future is perhaps a little too far out to be anticipating right now. And frankly, there is a lot to be done before any of these scenarios are possible.
While we like to hype up the multiverse with these distant future scenarios, there are steps that need to be taken now in order for us to build up the foundation of that future.
While we can imagine those scenarios, a slightly harder exercise is to imagine the gaps of technology between “here” and “there”, those critical infrastructure elements that must be developed for us to fully develop the metaverse into the sleek, endless field of opportunities we are hearing about today.
Based on this, it may be a good idea to examine where we are now on the path to these futuristic scenarios, what gaps are holding us back, and what infrastructure needs to be developed in order to bridge these gaps effectively.
Current Status and Gaps
First of all, it is critical to understand that the “metaverse” isn’t just one, self-contained system.
In fact, the term “metaverse” is itself a loose definition of a system where users can interact with one another virtually, and where there is the ability to do many things we might otherwise do IRL, like having meetings, going shopping, attending events, play games, etc.
The current status of the metaverse is not fully understood, as many platforms are in various stages of development. While the 2021 Meta announcement made the metaverse a topic of widespread discussion, a number of developers have been working toward their own for years.
From where we are today to the fantastical use cases mentioned above, there is less of a gap and more of a chasm.
However, there are some very clever development teams who are well aware of the key issues and are creating building blocks that are highly scalable. Meaning that even though there are big gaps today, we are seeing bridges constructed very quickly.
With estimates from individual developers on their status toward a metaverse, we’ve seen glimpses of MVP’s (minimum viable products) that can be explored, though without the connectivity we’ll need for interacting with others, making purchases, and organizing events.
Rather, it’s more of an empty VR shell that shows a scaffolding of what the experience could be. However, there are a few platforms further along not only now, but with a clear path toward solving issues of connectivity, processing power, and economy.
The most exciting is Bit.Country, which has already solved the economic aspects by utilizing blockchain (and created opportunities for NFT marketplaces); has a working MVP available to explore; and perhaps most importantly, has set up its structure so that users can create their own metaverse, using Bit.Country’s templates and tools.
This creates access for creative minds who don’t have the necessary programming skills, but also ensures that within its own platform, these different metaverses will automatically be compatible in terms of access, economy, and usability. This overcomes a lot of difficult gaps through very deliberate design choices.
Metaverse Infrastructure Needs
So what infrastructure does this web of metaverses need in order to thrive? There are three key needs that Bit.Country and the other leading platforms are working to build.
To experience the metaverse, you must first be able to access it. This statement should be obvious, but many platforms are hyping a deep VR experience with little thought to what the majority of people have today, and how they access the digital world.
Accessibility takes two forms: processing power and access channel. In order to create a deeply realistic, immersive experience, there must be a way for both the server-side of the metaverse as well as the client-side.
This type of experience would require fiber optic connections or at minimum 5G if wireless, and would require high-end processing and GPUs for the user to have a seamless experience. On the server side, there will likely need to be a supercomputer (or several) to handle the processing needs.
This is a long way off. The smarter platforms are focusing more on answering the question: “How immersive can we make this experience today given the average user’s hardware?”
Ironically, this has developed into a metaverse experience that could be experienced with VR, but could also be accessed on a mobile device.
Graphics are not high definition but instead focus on a reliable, glitch-free environment. With the massive success of Minecraft and Roblox, this is a wise decision.
Similar to accessibility, being able to interconnect with different metaverses is critical for more advanced use cases to be realized.
If we are stuck within a single metaverse that is limited by the developer’s vision, the purpose for the metaverse, and the number of users, it becomes no different than any other platform or marketplace today.
Like the internet, the promise of the metaverse is the ability to cross those digital borders into a vast network of experiences.
Bit.Country is achieving this by being able to assure interconnectivity to their growing number of metaverses, which allows a nearly endless experience without compatibility issues.
However, they are also working with other leading platforms to build those bridges to ensure full freedom of movement between metaverses.
Assuming we create a vast, global system of interactions, how do we create a viable way for goods and services to exchange (virtual) hands? You could argue that the internet has already accomplished this, but that isn’t quite true.
While you can purchase things from all over the globe, the model is largely centralized and held by companies who pay conversion fees, transaction fees, and more. These costs are passed down to the users, but even then they haven’t realized a massive, borderless network of marketplaces.
Key to this working is the ability for peer-to-peer transactions, something the internet has yet to solve, especially when borders are involved. With marketplace sites like eBay users get closer to this, but they are still using a centralized system and rely on a broker and banking system to sell even the most trivial items.
The key to this, as mentioned above, is blockchain. This is in part why many of the leading metaverse developers are in the blockchain realm, as they are using one of the strongest features of cryptocurrency to solve this major problem.
By having native tokens that are usable on the platform and swappable to other platforms, the economic challenge is essentially solved. In many ways, this is why the concept of a metaverse is growing so rapidly now.
We haven’t had major innovations in processing, mobile applications, or interconnectivity in the last few years. What we’ve had is a major breakthrough in how to create peer-to-peer financial transactions in a decentralized, borderless way.
Bit.Country has their token for both transactions and governance, and other platforms are following suit.
It’s easy to dream about the perfection of the metaverse, where we spend most of our day in an idealized world.
Sadly, we aren’t there yet, but what is truly exciting is the infrastructure progress we are making, and that we are solving major challenges that have been impossible until recently.
We will continue to see this fledgling universe develop at a rapid rate, and will likely be able to experience some of the real promises it holds as early as 2022.
The anticipation is real, and this should be a very exciting year.