Welcome to the Metaverse. It’s the next big thing.

We are being told that there is a brave new world where everyone will spend all their money and all their time but it doesn’t exist yet so what is all the fuss about?

It’s been on the news, it’s been in the papers and Mark Zuckerberg has renamed his empire after it. The Metaverse is the hot new thing that will change the way we live and work. Again.

If you do Facebook advertising, you’ll see that you are now doing Meta for Business. You might also have noticed that other than the logo, nothing much seems to have changed but Facebook are claiming that they will change from a social media business to a Metaverse one within five years.

Computer geeks and business analysts love predicting the future because it makes them sound very wise and they can never be caught out as, once we are all actually living in that future, no one can ever remember what their predictions were.

For instance, The Wall Street Journal says that Metaverse spending will total $5 trillion in 2030. That’s trillions of dollars spent in a virtual place that even its biggest supporters agree doesn’t really exist yet.

Artificial reality.

We are increasingly being told to put our faith in technology, in the digital space, in a technocentric world that most of us don’t really understand and the Metaverse is being touted as that next big tech revolution.

It will be a virtual world built of augmented reality and accessed via VR headsets, but surely we spend more than enough time on screen already. I thought the idea was that we should try and cut down.

Don’t get me wrong. I think new technologies can be marvellous. Netflix and Strava have changed my life for the better, but I don’t want to work in a virtual office or spend time with virtual friends.

I could play Tour de France 2022 on Xbox but it wouldn’t be half as much fun as cycling to work in the rain.

Virtual intelligence.

The pandemic certainly has changed the way we work though.

We have two Teams suites at Golden Coast and we have online meetings with customers on a regular basis, even though we no longer have to. I still believe that face-to-face meetings are best but we have been able to cut our mileage down significantly and it’s hard not to appreciate something that lets you spend less time on the motorway.

Will a virtual reality version of Zoom or Teams be significantly better than what we have now? Will it encourage us to spend more time communicating and working like that? I don’t think so, but that is the way the tech industry is trying to take us.

Real life.

The pleasure that people get from their pools and spas and saunas is a visceral, tactile and sensual one. It’s about the feeling of moving through water, being massaged by the spa jets or feeling the heat of the sauna warming your bones.

None of that could be further from a digital experience if it tried but we are now offering a ‘virtual sauna’ that people can explore online.

The Harmony Configurator is a clever, on-line tool that lets you examine all the possible options – from exterior design and materials to interior bench layouts and different heater and lighting options – and see how they interact with one another. You can explore exactly how your bespoke sauna will look.

In the Metaverse your avatar will be able to walk into the sauna and throw water on the heater stones.

A sorrowful experience

Queen Elizabeth’s passing was a sad occasion and it was easy to feel the depth of feeling that spread through the country. What was perhaps more surprising was the number of people who took part in the funeral ceremonies.

The Queen’s funeral drew audiences of up to 28 million in the UK and as many as 4 billion people watched worldwide. However, an astounding one million people attended the public funeral procession in London. The Queen spent four days lying in state as mourners slowly passed her coffin after standing in what was, at its longest, a ten mile queue that took up to 24 hours to move from beginning to end.

These were real people wanting to share real feelings.

It was for the Coronation of Elizabeth II that television really came into its own with many homes buying a set just so they could watch. The end of her reign coincided with what may prove to be the beginnings of a new way for people to communicate, to socialise and to gather but it’s flesh and blood feelings that matter, and that will never change.