The era of Phygital and the metaverse is coming. The future is near
For many years we have been living in two, for the most part, independent worlds – a physical one that we can touch and a digital one that exists in our computers and smartphones. We go to physical offices in the morning, chat with physical colleagues and friends, walk along physical streets, and in the evening we relax in virtual game worlds on the screen of monitors. But lately there are more and more prerequisites for the merging of these two worlds into one. There is already a name for this phenomenon – Phygital.
Let’s imagine such a picture – you wanted to buy new furniture for your apartment, but you don’t know how it will look in your room. You put on special glasses and the selected furniture appears in the room. Rather, virtual copies of furniture. And if you liked everything, you buy furniture using the “Buy” button that hangs in the air before your eyes.
Or you want to try on clothes before buying them from an online store. To do this, you go to the mirror and see how your new clothes will look on you.
Imagine walking around the city in the evening and suddenly you wanted to have a snack. And then by chance (or not by chance) you notice a neon billboard of a restaurant and a button “Visit a restaurant” appears next to the billboard. You press the button and bright arrows appear just above the ground level, which will lead you to the restaurant.
This is phygital. And so far we are only at the very beginning of this very interesting path.
Now imagine a completely virtual world, in which there are shops, cinemas, schools and universities, beautiful nature, gyms and much more that is now even difficult to imagine, for example, teleportation to other planets. And to get into this world, it is enough to put on glasses or a helmet for mixed reality (MR). This is the Metaverse, a concept that emerged a long time ago but only became popular in 2021 thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that Facebook’s main goal is to transform itself from a social network into a metaverse in the coming years.
Now there are already several virtual worlds with features, metauniverses, for example, Fortnite – a game that includes more than 350 million users not only to play, but also to chat, attend a concert of your favorite artist, buy new clothes for your avatar – in general have a cool time.
Or Decentraland – a virtual world based on the Ethereum blockchain. It has a fairly developed economic system based on MANA cryptocurrency, smart contracts and NFT contracts. You can enter Decentraland using a virtual reality helmet and immerse yourself in a virtual world in which the value of digital land plots reaches $ 500,000.
An analogue of such a virtual world based on blockchain and virtual reality technologies is Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space. And then there is Roblox and VRChat, which, although they do not have a blockchain economy and realistic graphics, are nevertheless very interesting projects.
The same Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality collaboration application.
And there are more and more such projects. I think that the era of the metaverse and the fusion of the physical and digital worlds is inevitably coming and this is no longer fantasy, this is our future.
The ultimate goal of all this is a common virtual space, a digital copy of our universe, augmented by the capabilities that constantly evolving technologies of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, distributed ledgers, computer graphics provide.
This is a new stage in the way companies and customers interact, content producers and consumers, game studios and gamers, bosses and employees, friends and lovers. The distances will gradually fade, as will the line between the two, so far independent worlds. Phygital and Metaverse are very vast areas, the time of which is just beginning, but undoubtedly, this is a new step in the evolution of technology and our life. And this short article is my and perhaps your first step into a new, phygital reality.