Wednesday, 10 August, 2022 UTC


Understanding the technologies that enable the Metaverse
In Facebook’s recent announcement to rebrand to Meta, they made a big push about a new buzzword: the ‘Metaverse’.
There are always new technology buzzwords that keep coming up and it can get quite confusing keeping ontop of all of them.
In this post, I’ll help explain what this new buzzword is and what it means.


The term Metaverse refers to an app or website, that allows people to interact with each other through the use of the internet and Extended Reality (XR) technology.
XR refers to Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
XR has an exciting role to play in the future of the internet, when combined with other emerging technologies (e.g Blockchain).

Summarising the ‘Metaverse’

‘Metaverse’ is a pretty vague term, looking at Wikipedia’s explanation is pretty confusing, I’ve boldened the parts which I think are important.
A metaverse is a persistent online virtual environment that incorporates a broad range of Internet functions. In futurism, the term is often described as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets.“
Wikipedia’s above wording of ‘a metaverse‘ implies there could be multiple Metaverse’s, where as Facebook Meta talk about ‘the metaverse‘ — which implies there is one metaverse.
This is where buzzwords can become confusing, as the word metaverse appears to be used to describe either:
A metaverse, which is an app or website that uses XR technology.
The metaverse, which is a future vision for what the internet could become (e.g the inclusion of decentralisation through blockchain technologies).

What is Extended Reality

Extended Reality (abbreviated as XR) is the category for all technologies that use computer graphics to enhance the real world around you, or enable you to enter and interact with a fully simulated digital world.
A diagram showing where XR technologies fit in between the ‘real world’ and ‘computer-generated’.
The category of XR technologies can be summarised as Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and Virtual Reality.
Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) refers to applications that overlay digital graphics on top of the real world, via a device’s live camera feed (e.g mobile or tablet).
Mixed Reality
Mixed Reality (MR) is the use of smart glasses or headsets, to overlay digital graphics that mapped onto what the user sees in the real world.
It is a ‘mix’ of Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies.
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of technology to simulate a virtual environment using a headset and sensors to immerse the user.

In conclusion

This has been a long blog post, well done for making it this far!
To summarise what you’ve learned:
  • The term metaverse is a little vague but essentially refers to the use of XR to enable people to interact with each other
  • XR is a category of technology that refers to the combination of computer graphics and hardware to enable AR, MR and VR
  • What the abbreviations AR / MR / VR mean and how they could play an exciting role for the future of the internet (e.g decentralisation)
Whilst I’ve written several posts before about XR related technologies (e.g Amazon Sumerian), I haven’t elaborated on how these technologies are practically influencing the internet.
These kind of topics have been on my mind for awhile now and I’m planning on writing more posts related to web3.
In the meantime, I hope this post has been useful — have fun :D

What is the Metaverse was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.