While the metaverse is still the future, what’s now?

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Web3 and the metaverse have been among the biggest and most discussed tech trends for a while now. At first, they might have sounded like overhyped buzzwords, but now it’s obvious that they are more than that. Many voices in the tech community consider these two phenomena as defining for the future.

Web3 will provide us with a more democratic, inclusive, transparent and fair iteration of the internet. The metaverse will be the ultimate connector, erasing geographical borders and bringing together people from all over the world in an exciting and versatile virtual space. Combined, they can create a whole new digital infrastructure that will be more beneficial for humanity than Web2, the current iteration of the internet.

Indeed, it all sounds like a highly promising and attractive concept. However, we still don’t see any mass enthusiasm about this next era of the World Wide Web. Why is that, and what does it mean for the tech industry?

The metaverse and Web3 sound terrific, but it seems that the buzz is among digital natives while the general audience outside of it remains unimpressed. At least, people are in no hurry to join the already existing platforms in Web3 or participate in activities held in the digital space of in-game metaverses.

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This shouldn’t be a surprise, though. According to SurveyMonkey, only 13% of US adults have heard of Web3, and research by Dept. showed that only 16% of people understand what the metaverse is.

It turns out that consumers aren’t so excited about Web3 and the metaverse because some of them don’t understand these trends and have no time to research. Others aren’t enthusiastic about exploring virtual reality, even though they may be enthusiastic about tech in general because they don’t see any connections to their everyday lives. Besides, currently, both Web3 and the metaverse sound like vague concepts to many of them. No wonder there’s no mass enthusiasm.

However, this shouldn’t worry those involved in developing tech products for the internet of the future. It’s only natural that the mainstream audience isn’t rushing to explore Web3 and the metaverse. There are always early adopters and pioneers who pave the way and educate others. After all, there were only 45 million people using the internet in 1996, but that reached 150 million by just 1999.

What the tech industry can do

So how can the rather narrow stratum of tech enthusiasts change things? It seems that the best way to get consumers interested is to introduce them to the concept gradually. Some tech companies and startups are working on it already; the same technologies that are used for Web3 and the metaverse can let people see and feel what it’s like to let the virtual world be a part of their everyday lives.

Lately, it’s becoming more and more affordable for businesses to incorporate virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into their services. AR differs from VR, but they have a lot in common. VR can help consumers examine products within the digital space. AR brings 3D models of products to the real world. Phygital, or the integration between online and offline processes, is gaining popularity as a tool.

Many brands and retailers have recently adopted the try-before-you-buy experience. Here are a few examples:

  • IKEA, a famous Swedish manufacturer of interior goods, is one of the pioneers in this field. Its Place app allows users to see how 3D models of IKEA items look in their real apartments.
  • Nike, a popular sportswear brand, experiments a lot with new technologies, and AR is one of its favorites. In the company’s mobile app, customers can find their correct shoe size with the help of AR. The brand also actively utilizes augmented reality for in-store experiences.
  • NYX, Urban Decay and Sephora are just some of the beauty brands that let their e-commerce shoppers try on products by overlaying digital makeup on real human faces.

When used like this, AR becomes a medium that helps consumers get accustomed to new technologies. Blending the virtual and the physical worlds provides a comfortable introduction to tech advances for those who usually approach such things cautiously. Virtual objects simply become a part of what’s familiar in the consumers’ environment.

It turns out that embedding AR into the customer experience is proving its efficiency. According to researchers, 75% of consumers expect retailers to offer an AR experience, and brand awareness grows by 70% with the creative use of AR. This shows that people, in general, are ready for technological advances if they see how these innovations can impact their lives in a positive way and make everyday processes more fascinating.

At the first glance, these uses may come across as AR tryouts that have no connection with the metaverse and Web3. But AR is a way to demonstrate how engaging and exciting it is to interact with virtual objects and, thus, the virtual world. For some consumers, it may become a pivotal point in their attitude towards the metaverse, something that will motivate them to take it seriously and with enthusiasm.

Of course, it’s not going to work for everybody. Even after getting used to mixing 3D objects with real life, some consumers may still never want to enter the metaverse, and that’s okay. Some people may even find more value in enriching their real lives with AR rather than emulating their real lives in the virtual space. We still have no idea whether the metaverse is going to gain mass popularity.

Nevertheless, many powerful technologies were initially created for the metaverse, and it could be beneficial if employed in the real world. Imagining humanity’s future in virtual space has led us to significant technological advances, which are already making our lives easier and more enjoyable.

George Yashin is CEO and cofounder of ZERO10an AR fashion platform

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