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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Costa Rica and The Metaverse: What it could all Mean

In the past couple of years, huge tech companies and conglomerates around the world have started to discuss something called the metaverse. Facebook and Microsoft have both made strides towards developing it and turning the once-theoretical idea into reality.

It could be some years before the metaverse becomes mainstream, but it’s already on its way and now is the time to start paying attention. But before anyone can take advantage of the metaverse, there are some burning questions that need to be answered.

What is the metaverse? How can we use it? How would the metaverse affect Costa Rica?

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse sounds a lot like something out of science-fiction, and there’s a reason for that. The name comes from a book written by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash, where lifelike avatars wandered around virtual reality environments. The proposed metaverse is this idea brought to life.

It would be an online virtual world, which incorporates AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), 3d holographic avatars, along with other means of communication. Essentially, it would be an alternative world for people to coexist in.

Matthew Ball, managing partner of Epyllion Industries, described the concept of the metaverse as “the cusp of the next internet”. While the metaverse is a few years off, aspects of it already exist. Always-on online worlds are running, VR headsets are becoming more mainstream, and ultra-fast broadband speeds are more prevalent around the world.

How Can the Metaverse be Used?

The easiest way to predict how the metaverse will be used is to look at how we’re using similar systems today. Mega-multiplayer online games, such as Fortnite, connect people from around the world and are enormously popular. With the rise of VR games, it’s only a short leap to gaming in the metaverse.

Other games, such as building games like Minecraft and Roblox allow players to put their own stamp on the game world. Roblox and similar games even allow people to create their own games within the system. Imagine something like this, but in a metaverse.

Another potential use can be seen with Second Life, an online world that’s less a game and more of a social experiment. Since 2003, people have been able to use online avatars on Second Life to socialize and explore a different world via the internet. Geographic restrictions are nonexistent online.

However, the metaverse presents an even more immersive online world for people to socialize in. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to restrictions in Costa Rica and around the world, making it more difficult for businesses to operate and for people to meet together. An immersive, online environment presents a perfect solution for this problem.

Of course, the metaverse doesn’t just have the potential to be a playground. As well as gaming and socialization, it can be used for more meaningful ventures.

For example, it presents a whole new avenue for education. As it allows you to contact people from all around the world, the metaverse gives you plenty of opportunities to learn new things. You can learn new languages by meeting someone from the other side of the world. Groups can meet accredited educators in the same way that people would meet at schools or universities. You can already do courses online, but the metaverse can improve this experience. You can feel as though you’re sat in a classroom. Or you can travel to ancient Rome or to a laboratory or whatever the lesson requires.

But here’s the thing. Gaming, socializing, and teaching aren’t the main reasons that massive corporations are racing to get a piece of the metaverse pie. The metaverse has the potential to make a lot of money, connecting brands and companies to customers. You can walk a virtual street and browse virtual shops, then buy whatever you like.

As well as physical goods, the metaverse also provides another opportunity for digital goods. Cryptocurrency and NFTs are both becoming more mainstream by the day, and who knows what the future has to hold for the digital industry. So, we’ve had a look at how people may use the metaverse and perhaps why they care about it, but what about you? What about Costa Rica?

Costa Rica and the Metaverse: Potential Opportunities

The metaverse is, at its simplest, a virtual world that is connected to the physical world, but without many of its limitations. For example, let’s look at businesses.

Remember, the metaverse is potentially “the next internet.” Think about the recent rise in eCommerce and online marketing, particularly via social media. In Costa Rica, land isn’t exactly cheap. Many businesses require land in Costa Rica to run, such as the famous coffee production, but if a business can carve out virtual space, then they won’t be bound to geographic limitations.

Rather than having to rent or buy property to run your business and sell your product, you’ll be able to spend more time in a potentially far cheaper virtual space. Many people are already familiar with remote working, but an interactive and immersive VR experience basically gives you the best of both worlds.

Also, customers from all around the world can more easily find Costa Rican businesses, potentially boosting the economy. Social media and online marketing are huge, but the metaverse could make it even easier for Costa Rican brands to become known around the world. As well as finding customers, the metaverse presents an opportunity to get to know them better.

As well as the direct boost presented by how Costa Rican businesses can grow, what about the social side of things? The reputation of Costa Rica has been growing in recent years, as a place of natural beauty and as a nation that’s taking strides in the fight against climate change.

If Costa Rica were to take advantage of the metaverse, then it can only further develop this good reputation. If people can see in a virtual world how stunning Costa Rica is, it’ll only make them want to visit in reality. Who knows where that might lead?

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