Metaverse: what it is, how to enter and what are the possible useful applications for companies

Metaverse, a term born in the cyberpunk world in 1992 and now in the limelight because it was used by Facebook, is the evolution of the Internet, but does not replace it. This is a difficult concept to define exactly, which prefigures a set of interconnected virtual and real worlds, populated by avatars. There are many questions still open

What is Metaverse and what does it mean? We are not faced with a technology or even a term coined by Zuckerberg, but with an inevitable process of digital convergence undertaken in the last decade of the last century, and which has its origins deeply in modern thought. Metaverse is the future of the Internet, a set of virtual spaces crossed by avatars , a step forward compared to virtual reality.

The Metaverse, strictly speaking, is not new. It was born from cyberpunk culture and rose to prominence last year when Facebook decided to name the Group’s holding company (which controls the Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Quest headsets) Meta and to start a project with this name. Recently, Microsoft announced the integration of the Metaverse into the Teams platform with Mesh : users will soon be able to have an avatar with which to participate in work meetings.

Index of topics

Promote standardization

These big tech announcements were followed by several others. These include the creation of the Metaverse Standards Forum , a place where leading organizations active in this field will collaborate “to advance the pragmatic and timely standardization that will be essential to an open and inclusive Metaverse.”

Founded by 37 members, the Metaverse Standard Forum has grown to include diverse organizations and companies, industry consortia, platform providers, hardware manufacturers, and end-user organizations. Obviously, in addition to Meta, Adobe, Microsoft, Huawei, Nvidia, Epic Games, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Qualcomm, Sony Interactive Entertainment and around thirty other companies and organizations of different types also take part. However, Apple is missing from the appeal.

The viewers: the gateways to the metaverses

A few weeks ago, Apple unveiled Vision Pro (a brand that seems to have already been registered by Huawei 4 years ago), the viewer for mixed reality , i.e. virtual and augmented VR/AR. This product will be available from 2024. But, as a Financial Times journalist noted, in all the presentations made by the Cupertino giant “one word remained sensationally absent: Metaverso”.

Meta does not stand idly by and has unveiled its new viewer, the Meta Quest 3, which will arrive on the market in autumn 2023. In addition to the different technology and the price (Apple Vision Pro will cost around 3,500 dollars while Meta Quest 3 will cost a little less of 600 euros), both are necessary to physically participate in the Metaverse which is not physical.

Indeed, the Metaverse promises to bring human interaction into an immersive world where people will be able to interact with each other, as if they were physically present. An environment consisting of a virtual reality system. We could see a set of virtual universes spanning multiple platforms, each with its own rules and stories. There would also be economies where users can buy and sell goods and services. At this point, you may be wondering how the Metaverse will be able to handle financial transactions. It will be interesting to see how the Metaverse changes over time and what other developments we can expect from this platform.

But let’s see in detail what the Metaverse is, aware that it is not possible to define it exactly.

The origins of the term Metaverse

Metaverse  is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in the book belonging to the cyberpunk culture “Snow Crash” (1992), described by the author as a sort of  virtual reality shared via the internet, where one is represented in three dimensions through one’s own  avatar . In this world the difference between social classes is represented by the  resolution of one’s avatar (the more defined and rich in details it is, the more it reflects the high social status) and the consequent possibility of access to exclusive places.

Not only does the avatar have to do with us but, in its entirety, the new “toward” dimension leads us to address a fundamental theme of human development, identity: not just the digital one, but the global one. We are therefore talking about real states of consciousness in progress, of profound changes, wherever a “representation” exists.

What is the Metaverse

metaverse, the Quest headset

The Metaverse is a digital universe resulting from multiple technological elements including video, virtual reality and augmented reality . Users access the Metaverse via 3D viewers and live virtual experiences: they can create realistic avatars, meet other users, create virtual objects or properties, go to concerts, conferences, travel and more.

The Metaverse develops in the digital world, its matter is composed of data and information , in close correlation with the objective universe, its structure is space-time , the same as the physical universe. It is a structure composed of length, width, depth and time:  cyberspace,  essentially a universe created and powered by global communication networks.

It’s experience time , everyone wants to “feel”, “have a direct experience”, even digitally: therefore the time is ripe for a further leap into the land of avatars – Avaterra. That of the Metaverse is a further step on the road to digital emancipation and makes sense only within a global and composite vision of today’s complexity : being correctly trained to use an Excel document at 100% of its potential is just as important as knowing manage a construction in a Virtual Reality – VR platform .

The role of virtual reality

Virtual reality is the native media environment of the Metaverse. The choice of virtuality derives from the convergence of two great models of computer science: ubiquitous computing , where information technology is made to appear always and everywhere with the development of mobile devices, which are increasingly lighter and more powerful, wearable, and cloud computing which allows access to data and their practically infinite conservation.

This convergence has allowed the transportability online of graphic environments that simulate space, perspective and lights developed by the easiest and cheapest, shareable and real-time computer graphics.

What gives meaning and continuity between the sensitive Universe and the digital Metaverse, in addition to the correlation between data and reality, is the sharing of values, of a “Gaia hypothesis” which over time has taken on more and more body and substance precisely in the now consolidated presence of network, the “planatarian nervous system” which made the Noosphere objective, the “sphere of human thought” by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which became the Infosphere in the modern thought of the philosophy of Information by Pierre Levy and Luciano Floridi .

What do brands do in the Metaverse?

  • 25% have the objective of virtual selling (NFTs, products), most of which have a stable presence on the platforms;
  • 33% use the Metaverse to promote their brand and broaden the customer base, most of which have a stable presence on the platforms;
  • 37% launch new products through the Metaverso channel, the majority through campaigns and commercials;
  • 5% promote items already on the market;
  • 21% have developed their own solutions, without leveraging existing platforms.
Brands in the Metaverse
Click on the image to learn about the strategies of the main brands for the Metaverse

McKinsey’s “ Digital twins: The foundation of the enterprise metaverse ” report shows that the use of digital twins – a virtual replica of physical, potential and actual resources equivalent to objects, processes, people, places, infrastructures, systems and devices at enterprise level – can be leveraged to bring the enterprise Metaverse of the future to life.

In line with the growing importance that digital twins are playing within Industry 4.0, they are becoming key tools for optimizing processes and decisions in every sector. In this sense, companies can begin the journey towards the corporate Metaverse starting from the adoption of a digital twin that has a data product at its core, evolving it over time to provide increasingly predictive capabilities. Additionally, organizations can adopt an interconnection of multiple digital twins to unlock even more use cases and layer the additional technologies needed to transform this network of digital twins into an enterprise Metaverse.

How to enter the Metaverse

The doors to the Metaverse are accessible to anyone interested and no special computer skills are required. Only a few tools are needed to access:

  1. A computer that can be replaced by a smartphone
  2. An Internet connection to be able to interact with the world of the web
  3. An account on one of the platforms of the Metaverse virtual world
  4. To make the experience more immersive, you can also use augmented reality viewers.

The most famous platforms to enter the Metaverse

Many digital worlds are emerging that are aimed at consumers and which can be accessed via browser, app or virtual reality device. Here are the main platforms to enter the Metaverse:

  • Decentraland is a virtual reality world in the Metaverse created by Ethereum. In this virtual universe, once registered users can create virtual buildings, houses, parks and charge others for the visit. All virtual items in Decentraland can be purchased with a cryptocurrency called MANA. Decentraland also hosted a music festival featuring Paris Hilton.
    Entering the Decentraland Metaverse is very easy, just go to the website, create an account with your avatar and start exploring.
  • Sandbox is a virtual Metaverse that has become popular since it announced its partnership with Meta. Its avatars have a blocky visual style like Minecraft and can build, own and monetize using NFTs and SAND.
    Sandbox has also partnered with over 165 brands to create avatars in the virtual world of famous people like Snoop Dog and The Walkind Dead. The Sandbox platform is not yet available but while waiting you can visit the site and interact with the community.
  • Stageverse is a new virtual platform for immersive experiences. It debuted at the Muse concert and allows users to experience concerts through 360° 3D movies and special effects. Stageverse can be accessed through the Oculus Quest app for iOS and Android devices.

The possible applications of the Metaverse

Will the Metaverse and virtual reality be a neutral environment, as  the web is  (at least in its fundamentals) ? Will it be able to accommodate everything without making a selection at the source? Will Algorithms and the Code Authority be able to meet people’s needs and requirements? Difficult to predict. For now we limit ourselves to briefly listing some areas of activity, some of which are already present in virtual worlds.

Entertainment, gaming

One of the first and most evident fields of application of virtuality, in all its degrees of separation from reality. The most interesting aspect will be the emergence of original gameplay within the Metaverse, exploiting the internal resources of the world in which they take place, or the creation of virtual native shows capable of gathering an audience compared to which Woodstock is a village fair .


Luxury brands such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, LV, Etro, fast fashion chains such as Zara, H&M, Benetton and sportswear, in full FOMO (fear of missing out) effect, have not missed the opportunity to open their flagships store in the  Metaverse Fashion District creating real immersive experiences for users. An example of this is the Metaverse Fashion Week, which took place last March in Decentraland and which represented the first and largest entirely digital fashion week in the world with four days of fashion shows and over 60 well-known brands, designers and artists.


Some brands in the Food & Beverage sector have already consolidated their presence in the Metaverse in all respects, while others are starting to take the first steps by launching experimental projects to engage and entertain, create NFT labels   create unique and quality digital content.

Training and education

Communities of practices, laboratories, simulators. The Metaverse is the ideal place to live experiences with a strong emotional but  also educational impact. From Team Building to medical, from sailing schools to university classrooms, the virtual allows you to have experiences as memorable as, and sometimes more than, the real thing.

Art, Theatre, Architecture and Design

The Metaverse itself is the work of creatives. The fortune of virtual worlds is the adhesion of creatives to the platform, and in doing so, contributing to the construction of things, environments, objects that will make the Metaverse livable. Without a doubt, virtual native activities are essentially creative.

Precisely in Decentraland Pini Group – the company that operates in the multinational engineering sector –  gave life to the Helmallery project , an initiative which, thanks to the collaboration with Helm, allowed it to virtualize its architecture. In fact, a multi-storey building has been developed in one of the main Metaversies existing today which will host the NFTs of the works of some internationally renowned artists, such as the Swiss Silvano Repetto and the street artist Chiara Capobianco.


Social sciences, marketing, communication

A characteristic of virtual social worlds is, so to speak,  the very fast cultural metabolism that virtual world societies have. Simulate the effectiveness of a point of sale or a marketing campaign, verify the public’s interest in a product, create a contest or design a real/virtual hybrid creative staff: the Metaverse allows you to have answers and checks as best as possible of any survey, allows you to create a prototype not only of an object, but to make a social prototype and test it on the product.

The virtual city, geolocation

The virtual city and the real city, the map and the territory can overlap until they match, or, on the contrary, become an extension of the other. Geolocation and the combination of real and virtual are among the most promising areas.

Synthetic tourism

Traveling virtually is not “traveling pretend”. Synthtravel , for example, is an additional tool for building an opinion and testing an offer, as well as knowing who will welcome us when we take the plane.

Virtual Office and Smart Working

The evolution of identity technologies, Agile work, conference calls. All communication and work technologies and solutions that we know well and which find the most effective synthesis in virtuality, and the major players in this market are already offering scenarios and products to the interest of the public and companies. If ever there is a booster for the Metaverse, Office Automation will once again lead the way, as it did for the web.

Virtual real estate

Probably the first and most profitable of the virtual world businesses were real estate businesses. Anshe Chung  was the first virtual real estate developer in  Second Life  to capitalize on millions of dollars in virtual land brokerage and arbitrage.

Facebook, a private Metaverse?

There are no details yet, but Marc Zuckerberg spoke about a project called Metaverse during the Facebook Connect 2021 convention, presenting Horizon Home which seems to be the first step. This is the new home of the Oculus virtual reality platform which allows the customization of this space into which it is possible to invite the avatars of your friends. Despite the assurances of Facebook ‘s chief financial officer , David Wehner, regarding “a responsible Metaverse  , the problems accumulated by the Big Digital Five are so large and complex that it is legitimate to doubt them.

After Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Nadella also spoke about Metaverso during the Ignite event, in which the video of a meeting on Teams between two Accenture managers was shown : one in the flesh, the other in his  avatar version .

Other applications mentioned involve the use of augmented reality viewers, for a more immersive experience.

From the web to the Metaverse and vice versa

Virtual reality does not replace the World Wide Web. Interoperability between worlds and platforms is one of the most important bets of the Metaverse, indeed we can say that it is the bet, the killer application that will allow the adoption of the Metaverse paradigm as the one was adopted of the web.

It is the right moment to go beyond mere automation and embrace a broader vision, bringing digital transformation together with an intelligent society , where new inclusive and human-centric paradigms are adopted at any social, economic and cultural level. Only a holistic vision captures all realities: innovation is not a private enterprise.


We need some insights into cybergeography to look the Metaverse in the eye. Cybergeography encompasses a wide range of geographic phenomena, from the study of physical infrastructure, traffic flows, the demographics of new cyberspace communities, to social virtual worlds.
The study of the perception and visualization of these digital spaces is fundamental to examine for the potential impacts of cyberspace technologies on real space: the Metaverse begins with the exploration of its geography.

Real and virtual economy, cybercurrencies and intellectual property

Without convergence and interoperability we will only have, as it is today, independent and isolated realities, regulated by their own laws and methods. The first to suffer from this fragmentation is the market, the basis of development of any society. Until we can have a wallet that can be spent in every environment, there will be no consolidated and shared exchange systems, nor equal rules for the protection of patrimonial rights, we will not have a complete Metaverse.

Profiling and transmigration of identities and privacy

Parallel to the economy comes identity. the avatar is not just a graphic icon in the form of a puppet,  it is the representative of a person’s identity. Maintaining identity in every environment of the Metaverse must be a right and a discretion, a right and a duty of citizenship. Having an identity allows the recognition of the rights and responsibilities we have in the real and virtual world.

The Metaverse is the implementation not only of a space, but of society itself. A virtual world without real interactions between people, as current social media have accustomed us to, is out of date, and it is no coincidence that the pandemic, which has socially isolated us, has made the need to develop a more coherent and integrated reality re-emerge. digital social. The Metaverse will have to be the evolution of this experience.

The role of experiences

User Experience and User Interface are fields of action of Spatial Computing which is designing how we will move and how we will manipulate the “things” of the Metaverse. Access technologies are truly mission critical, a rock against which many promising technologies have run aground. The search for a universal approach to virtual reality is perhaps a dead end, more likely there will be different accesses with different levels of experience.

The last piece for the creation of the complete and full Metaverse is the concrete possibility of finding what we are looking for, having a unique “Google Search”, the last step for the creation of a search environment where information, things and people, avatars , digital constructs and real objects are searchable.

How much is the Metaverse worth

Speaking in terms of economic value, McKinsey identified the potential in figures of the Metaverse with its recent study, Value creation on metaverse , carried out by interviewing over 3,400 people including consumers and company executives.

According to the global consultancy firm, the Metaverse will be worth $5 trillion by 2030, shaping up to be the biggest new growth opportunity for several sectors in the next decade given its potential to enable the development of new business models, products and services and acting as an engagement channel in both B2B and B2C environments. The potential impact of the Metaverse, the research highlights, varies depending on the sector, although it is believed that the implications will affect every sector.

For example, McKinsey researchers estimate, the Metaverse could have an impact on the e-commerce market of between 2 trillion and 2.6 trillion dollars by 2030, an impact of 180 to 270 billion dollars on the learning market academic virtual reality, from 144 billion to 206 billion in impact on the advertising market and from 108 billion to 125 billion in impact on the gaming market.

Industrial metaverse: the revolution comes to the factory

Even before 2021, the year of the literal “explosion” of the Metaverse, some manufacturing companies were experiencing the benefits of so-called Spatial Computing . The substantial difference compared to those first experiments is that today a very large set of technologies has reached a level of maturity and integration such that they can be used as a single “world” that uses and analyzes data internal and external to the company.

The Industrial Metaverse represents the application of the immersive and interactive ecosystem of the Metaverse to manufacturing, factory and logistics environments . An umbrella under which there is space a set of technologies that embraces Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) , Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital twins ( Digital Twins ) and robotics, which cancels the boundaries between the physical and virtual world. The industrial Metaverse redefines the collaboration between man and machines, between information (IT) and operational (OT) technologies , in so-called “asset intensive” environments in the name of the best efficiency, productivity and safety.

In contexts where accuracy, precision and attention matter a lot, the ability for operators to move in an interactive and completely immersive virtual space, interact with each other and on the shopfloor using their avatars, makes training , maintenance, quality control and product development increasingly natural and interesting experiences.

The benefits for safety and sustainability

From a recent study carried out jointly by EY and Nokia , carried out on a sample of 860 company executives in six countries, it emerges that users’ perception of the main benefits of the industrial Metaverse is essentially linked to three areas: reduction of capital expenditure ( the opinion of 15% of those interviewed), increase in sustainability (10%) and safety (9%).

From the same research emerges the general knowledge and awareness of the role that these technologies will have in the years to come: 58% of the companies that have already defined a plan for the Industrial Metaverse have activated at least one experimental initiative or one use case, while only 2% of the sample considers it a temporary phenomenon. Among those who have not yet taken their first steps in this area, 94% expect to start their first projects within the next 24 months.

The most critical point, it is widely believed, is linked to the technical elements necessary to support the industrial Metaverse applications: Cloud computing (72%), AI and Machine Learning (70%), network connectivity (68%).

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