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Welcome to the Metaverse! The accelerated digitalization due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed people into increased dependency on digital channels, devices, and platforms. We recently also read news that Vogue Singapore now has a new Head of Metaverse! Clearly, the metaverse is here to stay. Here’s everything you need to know about your twin digital self in the new tomorrow.
Metaverse and Digital Self-Image in the Simplest Words
Look at the world around you. What makes this natural world real- The fact that you can experience and connect with it? That’s how the future of a globally-linked virtual world is going to look like as well.
In the most optimistic state, the Metaverse is a harmonious intersection between the natural world and the virtual world. It is a nice blend of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence that creates an immersive experience for all.
Buy a virtual property, use cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), attend a concert, present your next big entrepreneurial idea, hang out with your friends- soon, all these experiences will become virtually possible with a snap of your fingers and the metaverse at your disposal.
Now that we caught a glimpse of the metaverse, what in the world is ‘self-image’ in the metaverse? Here’s a hint; think of the latest digital avatars that Snapchat introduced earlier this year as 3D Bitmojis or your very own customizable avatar in Fortnite.
These social media and gaming platforms have gotten the ball rolling for a more realistic and stylized digital self-image, frequently even more perfect than your natural self, from facial and body features to dressing.
Will Digital Avatars See a Raging Trend in the Market?
The fact is that the metaverse self-image market is already succeeding by leaps and bounds on the internet. The rise of digital avatar marketing may not have struck you, yet it’s subtly increasing.
Now that the world is going digital, people, especially Gen Z, see digital avatars as an extension of themselves. The young generation is going all-in when it comes to expressing their individuality on the web.
- Regarding the existing market on digital avatars, many brands are already on the track to exploring the usability and benefits of metaverse self-image in their business. The global metaverse market is valued at USD 44.69 Billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 596.47 Billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 44.8% over the forecast period. Against the backdrop of this rapidly growing TAM, digital demand for fashion and luxury brands is expected to grow from current low levels and result in extra sales for the industry that could reach $50 billion euros by 2030. Undoubtedly, fashion brands are setting a benchmark for enabling individuals to experiment creatively and play their part in sustainable fashion through digital avatars.
- Similarly, brands are expanding their customer service department to virtual assistants in the form of digital avatars. One British hotel company states that their virtual assistant undertakes an astounding 32% of the company’s workload regarding customer queries.
- A more common example of digital avatars creating enhanced web experiences is Apple and Samsung’s personalized AR avatars. The gaming industry pioneers, the makers of Fortnite, Animal Crossing, Minecraft, and the likes, are also integrating more diversified and customizable digital avatars, knowing the market’s existing size and potential.
- An extensive report on the metaverse by the BOF showed that 70% of the US audience believed that their digital identity was significant, and 50% were interested in investing in some form of NFTs, which includes digital avatars. These numbers depict a massive opportunity for tech giants to build on digital avatars.
Facebook and Microsoft are two big tech companies that have already taken the lead in exploring and creating the metaverse self-image. Facebook had been converted to “Meta”, and Mark Zuckerberg, in his recent conference, has shed light upon how Facebook and its corresponding platforms are working on making the metaverse dream a reality and bringing in digital avatars for this universe.
Your Digital Twin?
Digital identity is gradually becoming a more authentic depiction of ourselves regarding facial features, expressions, body shape, and dressing. There have been multiple criminal cases using hyper-realistic 3D masks in the past, which take a person’s exact shape and look. This is taking it a step further than mere masks.
From the shape of your eyes to lines and curves on your face when you smile, digital avatars are about to meet new milestones sooner than later. It truly goes beyond Vtubers!
While this revolution to the metaverse takes place at incredible speeds, developers like Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, emerged as initiators in creating digital avatars using 3D creation tools. Before Fortnite, the company had already devised Unreal Engine, a highly advanced technological tool to build virtually-immersive games and 3D characters. To date, it’s still enlisted as the top and most powerful 3D creation tool for unbeatable photorealistic experiences.
Upcoming Projects that Will Evolve Digital Identity
Facebook and its future plans for dominating the metaverse space has become a trending topic on the internet in the past few days, especially after its rebranding to Meta. However, several other companies are on their path to redefining metaverse and taking the plunge into new milestones for digital identity.
- Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg has come into the field, rebranded the entire Facebook platform, and announced that Facebook would become one of the leading investors to create metaverse and enable it on a global platform. The CEO of Meta has emphasized how they will ensure more customizable digital avatars and an all-rounder experience to connect, work, play in parallel cyberspace.
- Microsoft Mesh: Microsoft recently publically disclosed its plan of initiating an immersive experience for businesses, a project called Microsoft Mesh. Microsoft went several steps ahead and did not limit itself to one media, but is planning to launch a mixed media platform with AR, VR, and AI as well as holographic experiences using HoloLens. The result will be a virtual breakthrough for meeting spaces, the likes of which have never been done before.
- Epic Games: Epic Games has positioned itself in the frontline of diving into the possibility of the metaverse. The developers of Fortnite set the stage for its virtual events in the past few months. Fortnite is making history with virtual events, specifically its virtual live concerts, the most recent one of Travis Scott, where players could attend it in their virtual selves. With turning points like this, Fortnite will no longer only be a multiplayer ‘game’ in a few months; rather the stepping stones towards metaverse self-image.
Digital avatars are going to be huge!
How Will You Look Like Tomorrow?
We’ve covered the existing plethora of opportunities that metaverse self-image will bring to the market. So, what does the future indeed hold in terms of our digital identities and a whole other universe where we can practically live a second life? The two-word answer to that is- A LOT!
Metaverse might not come in the next 5 years, considering we still lack the technological hardware to make it happen, but when it does, it’s bound to reinvent the world as we know it. A world where our digital identity will blend and become as essential, if not more, as our real-life self. Your digital presence, therefore, your digital avatar, will be of utmost importance in the upcoming era, when everything you know as of now will become cyberspace.
With metaverse self-image becoming a hot topic, experts have started analyzing the prospective changes it will bring. Of course, there are ethical considerations too, like heightened body dysmorphia and the importance of person identification in the future.
While these concerns are equally important to understand and resolve, only the future can tell what the metaverse will really incorporate and its effects on a typical person’s blended virtual and real life. Your self image is entirely and literally in your hands- and very likely stored as ERC1155 tokens in your crypto wallet. Talk about #OOTD on another level!