Where did the metaverse go? And will Apple’s Vision Pro bring it back?

  • In 1992, Neal Stephenson published “Snow Crash”, a science fiction novel about a computer virus in a virtual world, which introduced the concept of the metaverse.
  • The metaverse, built on blockchain technology, transcends national boundaries and provides a decentralised and highly autonomous virtual space for activities such as learning, working and playing.
  • Apple’s VisionPro, an AR headset launched on January 27, aims to pioneer the metaverse by providing intelligent interaction and rich real-world perception, potentially revolutionising work and entertainment experiences.

In 1992, American author Neal Stephenson unleashed the sci-fi gem “Snow Crash,” not about a natural avalanche but a virtual code name for a sinister computer virus. The stage? 21st-century America, ruled by mega-corporations with a sidelined government. After an economic collapse, people flock to the metaverse for freedom and pleasure.

Armed with eyewear-like VR headsets, users dive into metaverse via any internet-connected device, creating a soul-soothing virtual utopia. Amidst the metaverse, a 30-year-old delivery driver and a struggling 15-year-old courier transform into unexpected superheroes combating sinister forces aiming to dominate the entire virtual realm with the Snow Crash virus. “Snow Crash” not only challenges sci-fi norms but also ignites passionate discussions about the metaverse in our internet-savvy era. What significance does the metaverse hold for us today?


What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is a virtual world built on blockchain technology, offering a parallel space detached from the real world. Unlike our reality, it transcends national boundaries, operating in a decentralized and highly autonomous manner. Individuals adopt virtual identities to engage in activities such as learning, working, shopping, traveling, gaming, and even getting married within the metaverse. As the concept of property is introduced to virtual worlds, thanks to legislation protecting virtual currencies like game coins, people can now practically live a virtualized existence. The metaverse is not a question of whether it is needed or not; it is steadily advancing towards us, already existing and rapidly expanding.

”The future holds the potential for seamless transitions between the real world and the metaverse, leaving us pondering the importance of each. One thing is certain, whether we embrace it or not, the metaverse is bound to reshape the world.”

Chen Gang , professor from Peking University

Professor Chen Gang from Peking University defines the metaverse as “a virtual world created and interconnected through technological means, reflecting and interacting with the real world, constituting a digital living space with a new social system.” The novel visual scenes generated by the metaverse captivate more people, drawing them into an immersive virtual experience. The future holds the potential for seamless transitions between the real world and the metaverse, leaving us pondering the importance of each. One thing is certain, whether we embrace it or not, the metaverse is bound to reshape the world.

VisionPro: stepping into the metaverse

Notably, Apple’s upcoming product, VisionPro, a groundbreaking augmented reality (AR) headset set to launch on February 2+ in the United States, has garnered global attention as a pioneer in realizing the metaverse. Distinguishing itself from competitors, VisionPro boasts intelligent interaction and extensive perception of the real world. Aimed at providing users with an immersive experience while maintaining a close connection with reality, VisionPro enables multitasking in 3D space within the Safari browser, enhancing work efficiency.

-Apple VisionPro live display-

The introduction of VisionPro is not just a product launch but a significant stride towards the realization of the metaverse vision. With advancing headset technology, we might be on the cusp of entering a borderless digital world where virtual and real seamlessly blend. Through the advanced perspective system utilized by VisionPro, users not only immerse themselves in the virtual world but also allow others to glimpse into this virtual experience. This open design aims to overcome the isolation associated with traditional virtual reality headsets, liberating users from solitary virtual experiences.

Also read: Apple’s Vision Pro sprint: A time limited risky gambit

How does the metaverse work?

”Over the next five to ten years I expect these new technologies will integrate more deeply into our daily lives and will create an almost seamless blend of physical and digital realities. ”

Mark Boidman , global head of media at Solomon Partners

The metaverse is supported by a combination of technologies, including virtual reality, blockchain, and Web 3, along with mature programming technologies underpinning the internet. Blockchain, storing data blocks connected in a chain, provides a shared data solution ensuring authenticity and security—integral components of cryptocurrencies. It forms the foundation for Web 3, the latest iteration of the internet, providing a framework for augmented reality. Virtual reality, built upon these technologies, simulates real-world experiences. Most VR software is based on a “virtual world generator,” created using software development kits specific to VR headset vendors.

Mark Boidman , global head of media at Solomon Partners, inserted that:”Over the next five to ten years I expect these new technologies will integrate more deeply into our daily lives and will create an almost seamless blend of physical and digital realities. From where I sit as an investment banker, I also anticipate that increased investment from tech giants and startups will fuel the creation of virtual environments, opening up new opportunities for social interaction, commerce and entertainment. As blockchain and decentralized tech become more integrated, I also expect more enhanced security and interoperability within the metaverse.”


Pop quiz

Which technologies will be used in the meta-universe?





The correct answer is at the bottom of the article.

Metaverse applications: the future is now

The metaverse has redefined the relationship between people and space, with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), cloud computing, 5G, and blockchain laying the groundwork for a fusion of virtual and real interactions, transforming and disrupting our lives. The metaverse is already around us if you know where to look.”This integration has revolutionized the way we perceive virtual spaces, transcending beyond gaming to sectors like education, remote work, and social networking. A notable example is the use of VR in educational platforms, offering interactive and engaging learning experiences that were previously unimaginable.”,said by Mayank Jindal, software development engineer at Amazon.


Games like Axie Infinity, a pet trading and battling game, have introduced a Play-to-Earn model, allowing rural residents in the Philippines to earn money while playing, aiding those who faced unemployment during the pandemic. Platforms like Decentraland offer a 3D virtual reality space where users can own and develop virtual land, replicating real-world structures like casinos, financial centers, and shopping malls. Roblox, a massive multiplayer online sandbox game creation platform, empowers users to design items and create various game types.


NVIDIA CEO Huang Renxun, expressed that enterprises can use the metaverse to reduce cost wastage and enhance operational efficiency. NVIDIA’s Omniverse, an open platform developed for virtual collaboration and real-time simulation, is utilized by BMW to integrate planning data and applications in a virtual factory. This integration enables real-time collaboration and unrestricted compatibility, potentially boosting BMW’s production planning efficiency by 30%.


The metaverse introduces wireless communication technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and chips to create a home fitness platform. Companies like Mirror offer “invisible” home fitness solutions, featuring embedded cameras and speakers. These fitness mirrors turn into interactive displays, allowing trainers to guide users face-to-face and provide real-time feedback on their exercise status, such as calorie consumption.

A glimpse into the future

-This-concept-map-shows-the-compact-plot-of-real-estate-in-the sandbox-metaverse-
-This concept map shows the compact plot of real estate in the sandbox metaverse –

Do you remember the feeling of the 1990s, when the internet was brand new, and everything seemed possible? Today’s metaverse embodies those hopes and opportunities on a grander scale. Virtual real estate has become a lucrative business, with a small piece of virtual land that sold for $1,000 on Decentraland less than a year ago now valued at $13,000.

James Shannon, CEO and co-founder of XONE, the company behind the Microsoft Xbox, and a renowned metaverse expert, remarks, “This is an incredibly exciting moment because, just like the internet did in the ’90s, the metaverse will completely change the world in ways we can’t even imagine yet.” The metaverse is here, offering boundless potential and already reshaping the world in ways we are just beginnin.

The right answer is ABCD, all of them are correct.


Coco Yao

Coco Yao was an intern reporter at BTW media covering artificial intelligence and media. She is studying broadcasting and hosting at the Communication School of Zhejiang.

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