Facebook is now called Meta - but what is the metaverse?

Virgin Radio

29 Oct 2021, 11:56

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook is to be renamed as part of a major company rebrand. 

Facebook’s founder and chief executive made the announcement at the company’s Facebook Connect event. The name change to Meta only applies to the overall company, meaning that its platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will retain their current names.

Zuckerberg said: “Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything that we're doing today, let alone in the future.”

A big reason for the renaming of the company is Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse. At the conference, the Facebook founder said: “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.” 

But what exactly is the metaverse? 

In simple terms, it will be a new version of the internet, an online world, where people can interact, play and work using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology.

If you are still struggling to picture the metaverse, it’s essentially a 3D version of the internet, which Zuckerberg has described as a ‘virtual environment’. People will ‘go into’ the metaverse using the likes of virtual reality headsets, smart glasses, and smartphone apps, 

Digital representations of people, known as avatars, will be able to meet in a virtual office, go to gigs together, or even try on clothes. Users would be able, via their avatars, to jump between virtual worlds created by different companies.

"A lot of the metaverse experience is going to be around being able to teleport from one experience to another," Zuckerberg said.

Another aspect of new technology that Meta are working on is something called electromyography (EMG) input technology, which is set to change the way that devices are controlled. Potentially using a special wristband, it could one day allow you to send a message in AR with your hand resting at your side, without even having to look at a screen. 

Zuckerberg said: “You’re going to be able to send a text message, just by thinking about moving your fingers. That’s going to be pretty amazing.” 

The rebranding and metaverse announcement comes in the aftermath of a series of reports and whistleblower complaints about how the Facebook website handles user safety.