If you've played a video game, or ridden a virtual rollercoaster while wearing one of these virtual reality headsets, you've entered the metaverse. You can play games and take a fitness class, and even socialize and meet new people, as I did in Meta's Horizons World. I popped into the virtual world wearing an Oculus headset for the first time and watched a concert, talked with strangers, and played a few games. All of that is the metaverse.
But even if you've never strapped on one of these virtual reality headsets, you may have already dipped a toe into the metaverse. There is a metaverse for the rest of us.
"It's really just the next generation of the internet that's more about the immersion," said Consumer Technology Association's Brian Comiskey. He says it's already part of our daily lives.
If you've ever created an avatar or memoji, you're in the metaverse.
The metaverse is a digital universe. There's virtual reality that requires headsets to experience digital-only experiences like in the movie "Ready Player One. Augmented reality, where digital elements are layered over things in the real world. And Mixed Reality where you can see the physical world, but interact with virtual things.
If you don't play video games, will you ever care?
"It's going to impact the consumer much sooner than you think," Comiskey said. While gamers were the first to embrace the metaverse. Retail is the next frontier.
If you've used Amazon or Ikea's shopping tools to see how a product will look in your living room, that's the metaverse.
It's already being used in some beauty stores to allow customers to try on, without actually trying something on.
Perfect Corp's Hannah Brown demonstrated the company's technology at CES. Looking into a mirror, I saw a version of Hannah wearing earrings and makeup. In reality though?
"I'm not wearing the earrings or any of this makeup in reality. But you can see it's very realistic," she said. And it was.
The company Perfect has a virtual store you can visit on a smartphone to try makeup, clothing, and different hairstyles and even do a skin analysis from the comfort of your home through your smartphone camera.
"It can look at the different concerns you have," explained Adam Gam. "It can tell you what those problem areas are. If it's coded in with the retailer or brand, it can recommend those products for you. And you can track the efficacy of those products over time."
Consumers can access this from their phones or by visiting a physical store. Gam says retailers already have some of this technology. And little by little the metaverse will become where people shop, socialize and live at least part of the time.
"It's not like the metaverse will just happen one day. It's a process and evolution of all these technologies coming together for engagement to have hyper-engaged experiences."
So even if you think you don’t want anything to do with this thing called the metaverse, if you shop, exercise, drive, and all of the things we do in real life, one day, you'll also be doing it with the help of the metaverse.