In October 2017, I entered and embraced the metaverse for the first time from my operating theatre from the Royal London Hospital. I had created my avatar and joined surgeons from London, India and the US using the Holoens and Thrive/Beame software provided by Atheo. We were able to interact in the virtual world — across three continents and three time zones simultaneously. We shared assets like CT scans, X-rays and 3d models to discuss the patient during live surgery. Imagine a world where a surgeon could call on help when required by simply transitioning from the real to the virtual world, allowing the true democratisation of healthcare.

My avatar in the metaverse connecting with surgeons across the world 20th October 2017

The video from BBC Click covered the live session:

I called this the “surgical metaverse”, and I am glad that the metaverse concept is now being embraced.

Facebook has embraced the meta-verse concept, which is growing in popularity in technology and business. Facebook announced a $10 billion investment this year alone in creating its Metaverse. The total spend may be over $50 billion over the next few years. Facebook has over 10000 employees working on immersive technologies. So it is a serious ambition.

But what does it really mean? Here’s how it works:

In his 1992 book Snow Crash, American author Neal Stephenson introduced the term “metaverse,” referring to the 3D visual space occupied by lifelike human avatars. People in this dystopian future wear realistic mirrors to connect with the digital world! In Silicon Valley, it is a well-known novel. Metaverse is an all-encompassing 3D visual space shared by everyone. The metaverse can be thought of as a cluster of connected earths, just as the visible universe is a group of planets connected to space.

The metaverse was shown in the film “The Matrix,” where people lived in a visible environment while their bodies were connected to a Virtual Reality machine that was harvested electronically. You may have heard of Omniverse via Nvidia or Horizons for Facebook and Workspace. These are all Metaverse assets. The days are not far off when you will be dressed like a “lonely monkey” and visit the Virtual Amazon Mall, where products will actually be delivered to your home. Every visible world within the metaverse will have its own cryptocurrency that will be able to work together, as the whole physical world has its own currency. At metaverse, projects such as Axie Infinity, Decentralized, and Sandbox have made a name for themselves. We will see more of this in the future.

Nike is working with Roblox to secure its future in the metaverse, creating a visual space called Nikeland, which includes buildings and arenas resembling the company’s real-life HQ — allowing users to play games and try out the latest and design their own products. Expected and engaging, is an indication of how the brands will participate and participate more in the real world, rather than simply spraying ads on us randomly on Insta as in Web2.

Facebook wants to open a hardware store to get people to check out its Oculus VR gear and possibly remove the stigma and improve the experience without being stuck in a VR headset entirely. VR (or some immersive hardware) is key to Facebook’s transformation into a metaverse otherwise, the company will have to rely on other hardware maker manufacturers to push its services.

Zuckerberg makes his goals clear: overcoming the next metaverse of the symbiotic world that combines the real and the real, allowing people to develop more people, make money in the physical world, own things, work, and communicate. It may take many years before we can see the metaverse even in its more early stages, considering application development and internet + delays and the speed required to disrupt free streaming. And Apple, Snapchat, Roblox, and Microsoft (with its Hololens) are building their own version of the metaverse. So the competition is tough, and how will it all connect?

FB has built a new direct business called Facebook Reality Labs, integrating its VR with other hardware products. It is focused on expanding the installed device base and not to depend on Apple or other devices for survival as it develops the metaverse. Facebook is still used by 2.95 billion people worldwide every month, 60% of whom open apps daily.

Microsoft is adding 3D virtual avatars and environments to its Teams chat system, as part of its push towards the “metaverse”. The “Mesh” platform will let people meet in the virtual space, with or without a virtual reality headset.b Microsoft says the new features, which it is calling “immersive meetings” will be available in the first half of 2022.

Visual ambience. The internet in three stages. Other economies and universities. All of these words refer to the metaverse, a term that is popular in modern society. Because metaverse covers the physical and digital world, it is almost identical to the rest of the universe. Simply put, a metaverse is a shared space where anything that happens in the real world can happen in the virtual world which are connected.

Although the metaverse is still a growing concept, there are many different types of the metaverse. Users can go to the shops, read, participate, attend concerts and galleries, and also do business. What is needed for people to enter the space is developing their own and unique avatar which are increasingly lifelike. Many virtual worlds will exist, especially those based on Ethereum, and will be built on the block-chain. This means that the DAO’s (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) will hold smart contracts rather than any other central authority. Cryptocurrencies will be used to run the world economy.

Another critical factor is trade. Users can generate digital assets, develop them, and then sell, rent, or exchange them for cryptocurrency in virtual blockchain-based countries. Selling in-game avatar skins, renting a digital world, and even selling advertising space pixels on all potential items. It is no longer a Niche Market. Metaverse is not a new concept. In 2003, the visual world ‘Second Life’ encouraged millions of people to create their own dream world. The idea remained silent until the global epidemic began with the rapid creation of the physical world.

Millions of people have been forced to postpone their public lives and submit to the internet altogether due to the closure of places worldwide. Generations that grew up with video games made up the bulk of the team. They have travelled around the world in search of new information and opportunities. Big companies followed their customers, and their money and the metaverse exploded at this point. The metaverse is simply a new dimension of the internet. It will probably be accessed in each of our lives at some point. Logically, this is a great business opportunity, so forward-thinking firms are jumping on the board. As a result, the potential for real estate with millions of people is increasing.

In healthcare, remote collaboration could be potentially improved by entering the metaverse and could augment multi discipline team meetings(MDT). A hybrid model will undoubtedly deliver medical education within the physical and virtual world within a medical “metaversity.”

Professor Shafi Ahmed is a multi-award winning surgeon, teacher, futurist, innovator and entrepreneur. He is a 3x TEDx and an international keynote speaker