This week Meta presented its Meta Quest Pro, its new augmented and virtual reality goggles-helmets that are the first firm approach in hardware to the change of name and strategy that the transmutation of Facebook into Meta entailed.
From being a social media company, Facebook went on to become a company obsessed with the metaverse, a concept that we have not stopped talking about but that does not have solid foundations or common points. Along the way, Meta has changed the visual style of its representations metaversianshas tried to hire thousands of developers, and, above all, has become synonymous with a term for which other companies had already done more.
There are many possible readings about the change and they will continue to be done: from going forward after so many scandals for its advertising business and social networks to the expansion of a huge company, just like Apple is trying it towards finance and health.
But the truth is that in the medium term Meta, in its metaverse, could try to corner or at least offer a new version in some traditional sectors. Music concerts have already had experiments without the need for the existence of Meta like the one Travis Scott gave in Fortnite. Tourism, and ‘knowing’ or seeing much more expensive wonders in real life, could be next, along with the location of your glasses as a new gadget to fit into people’s budgets and make it as essential as it is today. same mobile.
Traveling in the metaverse
For that, there may be a lot left, but if he achieved it, Meta would open up a millionaire business. In Spain alone, tourism is the largest source of income, accounting for 12% of GDP before the pandemic and employing 2.7 million people.
Logically, those who go to Spain or the coast of Mexico for tourism do so for the good weather or the gastronomy, something that no metaverse —at least for now— seems to ever be able to offer. But what about tourist destinations? With visiting Rome, Paris or Machu Picchu from home?
Nothing can match the real world. On that we agree. But in an inflationary context, where it seems that tourist flights, for environmental and economic reasons, are increasingly reduced or more inaccessible… Is no one really going to replace spending a month’s salary getting to know a city or a tourist landmark by touring it from their living room?
That is one of the layers where Meta seems to want to enter in the medium term. In fact, it’s no secret, because when her AR glasses division was called Oculus, she was already playing with that claim.
Augmented and virtual reality has been used for tourism purposes for years. the app Fly Over Zoneoffers to visit ancient places as if we were in its heyday.
amazon launched amazonexplore, which allows people to “travel the world, virtually”. It is an interactive service that allows you to discover new places from your computer. A service still very primitive, but that offers an idea of where the shots are going. And, by the way, already paid. Touring Costa Rica near animals costs 7.5 dollars. Take a complete tour of Slovenia, 35.
In terms of tourism, Asia is a forerunner, with proposals such as the Seoul Metaverse project, which aims to become the first large city in the world to enter the metaverse, with a tourist route that reproduces the main places in the city. In Tokyo there are also similar initiatives.
Tourism doctor Naima Aidi recently reflected on this in an article in The Conversation:
There are two main trends that define the tourism experience: the first is related to the process, with a transformation of the world into knowledge, the second is to do with the moment, with a focus on hedonism and feelings of success. While by definition tourism requires physical travel, there is a contradiction in the tourism experiences the metaverse offers. The metaverse cannot replace physical travel, but it can create the desire to travel.
Naima Aidi, doctor in tourism
The experience, it is expected that it can be much more real than those offered by current devices in the coming years. Through immersion, virtual reality headsets or haptic sensors allow you to experience things that were previously intangible. Through an avatar, the user of the metaverse can embody a tourist by creating a virtual tourist route, interacting with other avatars and exploring on their own.
And if Amazon is already selling much less elaborate tours for anywhere from $7 to $40, expect some of Meta’s business to come from people visiting the Taj Mahal from their couches.
But the other challenge is to introduce RV cases in our houses
The question, however, is whether these new devices that not only Meta is working on will become as ubiquitous as phones. There is a certain degree of comfort and invisibility in the use of devices.
If smartwatches have found a market, it is because it is very easy to wear it on the bracelet. The same goes for cell phones and pockets. Tablets have always been on a fine line between not being comfortable enough for many cases and not providing much. In laptops and PCs, what they provide us weighs more than their physical form.
But having glasses of more than 1,000 euros that makes us seem quite strange beings? That will be another one of Meta’s battlefields.
Do you want to take off your headphones and disconnect from your virtual friends every time your partner or child enters the room?
In either case, Meta is spending an enormous amount of money to lead a change that is still not entirely clear. If the future goes through people in their tourist houses with half-bulky helmets, maybe it’s the one we deserve.