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What Is the Metaverse, and Will It Be Worth the Wait?

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Imagine a three-dimensional online world where you teleport from your London office to a meeting room in Singapore, shop at a digital replica of your favorite clothing store then join a friend for a round of virtual golf. To some, this aspirational version of the internet known as the metaverse is the future of human interaction. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the company’s name to Meta Platforms Inc. and is pouring billions of dollars a year into efforts to dominate this “next frontier.” But it’s unclear what a unified virtual universe would look like, or whether people really want it. 

It would combine technologies including video-conferencing, games like Minecraft and Roblox, crypto tokens, email, virtual reality, social media and live-streaming. Just as you might create a document in Microsoft Word and send it via Google’s Gmail to a colleague to read on an Apple iPad, items in the metaverse would be able to move across an ecosystem of competing products, holding their value and function. A digital work of art bought as a non-fungible token, or NFT, from Company A, say, would be displayable on the virtual wall of a house in a game made by Company B.