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Meta, Meta, Metaverse

Most of what has been written about the metaverse is marketing and folklore. So you might be wondering, what exactly is the metaverse?

To me, the metaverse is the next phase of technology. It’s where we will change everything from how we interact with people, how we visit places, and how we build things. Effectively, it will be our digital universe.

In many ways, the metaverse already exists as we spend more time online, building connections, sharing experiences, and working with people that are not physically near us. It’s all happening without us having to put down our phones or shut down our computers. However, we have yet to reach the full potential of the metaverse, although we’ve taken significant steps toward that point:

  • We built the internet, which enabled the first wave of global connections between people in different physical locations.

  • We built platforms that improve our ability to share experiences and communicate via the internet.

  • And we’ve created new worlds entirely online, including online gaming, which has helped people immerse themselves in new, creative environments.

But we’re still at the early stages of figuring out how we bring together all of our virtual worlds and deepen those connections with others. Location will be critical to the future of the metaverse--without location data, a true metaverse isn’t possible.

Metaverse, at its heart, will be successful as long as it is a shared place where we can have everyday interests, explore those together, and share meaningful experiences as a result. Now, how do we accomplish such success? There are four primary points to consider: 1) no single company is capable of creating this space alone, 2) there will need to be open standards replicable by all, 3) the different digital worlds within the metaverse will need to be interoperable, and 4) robust, rich location data to enable digital and virtual worlds to be connected.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Localogy at the end of September on “How the Metaverse Comes to Mainstreet” with Mike Boland and Raffaella Camera, Head of Brands & Advertisers Solutions at Epic Games. (It was great getting back in front of people, finally!) We discussed ​​how augmented reality’s (AR's) central function is to augment the physical world and how geo-location will be a key ingredient in AR's actualization as a local search and discovery tool.

In other words, how will location intelligence, SMB marketing, and other staples of local commerce play a role in fulfilling AR's promise?

We continued our conversation by discussing why Foursquare has already been used by many enterprise customers for geo-anchored AR experiences. There is growing interest from these customers to embed this rich data in their experiences. But, in some ways, the jury is still out on how we, as a society, will embrace AR and use it to solve problems in both the near and long-term future.

I believe the reason companies choose Foursquare is that we are the best at what we do. The team works hard and is laser-focused on developing and maintaining the industry’s most accurate, fresh, rich-in-detail, and accessible POI dataset.

One question I find interesting is, in an AR-enabled future, where will people come together?

Will Mainstreet still be a physical street in a physical town, or will it exist virtually?

The answer might be “both.” I think we will come to define Mainstreet as any space, digital or physical, that gives people that “city feel” and allows us to have those same experiences. Whether those experiences are facilitated via an app, by walking on a real sidewalk, or both--we’ll probably see a bit of both.

At a fundamental level, people gather in spaces that allow them to share their common interests and learn from each other.  Today, in the digital space, that happens in video chats and interest groups.  That is going to shift to the metaverse.   

For more about the talk at Localogy, click here.

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