Technologies expand along with their languages. As the metaverse ecosystem keeps flourishing, so does its vocabulary. It isn’t easy to keep up with all the emerging terms, but here are 20 terms that can function as conversation starters.
Metaverse terms for world-building and real-world reference
A mirrorworld is a digitally rendered representation of the real world. Its objective is to correctly depict the actual world by creating a virtual 1:1 map of it.
For many, the idea of one single massive virtual world (the metaverse) is a utopia. In the metaverse context, Multiverse refers to the notion that we will have many digital worlds that run simultaneously in the future, but all will have their own set of rules.
The real world. It can be seen as the predecessor of the acronym IRL, which is a more modern version of referring to things in real life.
Terms related to decentralization and open internet
#4 Walled garden
An environment controlled by a giant corporation. This term usually refers to big technology companies, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon, that store data in central servers. It’s the opposite of the open and decentralized internet.
The vision for the next generation of the internet is decentralized, where the power doesn’t lie with a handful of central entities but with individuals. Decentralized networks allow permissionless participation, contrary to closed platforms like iOS or Amazon Web Services.
Different digital worlds can interact with each other seamlessly if they’re interoperable. As a result, users can share data, such as content and assets, on multiple platforms. If the underlying blockchains of different metaverses are interoperable, we can use NFTs across them, for example.
3D and spatiality-related metaverse terms
#7 Virtual teleportation
It describes the instant transport of things and avatars across space to a remote location. It’s already possible thanks to Virtual Reality technology, allowing users to navigate a digital world without walking long distances.
Extended reality (XR) is an all-encompassing term for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). The lines between different realities are becoming more blurry, so it’s a more appropriate word for many instances.
#9 Spatial computing
Another broad term that covers many technology areas. It combines any computational method to describe human interaction with surroundings. Spatial computing can refer to XR, GPS, the internet of things, and speech recognition.
#10 Liminal spaces
As the name suggests, these refer to thresholds or borders between two states. They can indicate the transition phase between physical and virtual realities in a metaverse context. They can also refer to the gates we must go through to access different metaverse levels.
#11 MaaS – metaverse as a service
Like SaaS, MaaS will allow enterprises to leverage a core technology to adapt it to their own circumstances. They can, for example, build 3D spaces tailored for specific team members.
Any XR experience that teleports us to the third dimension in a digital setting can be interpreted as an immersive experience.
Metaverse terms that reflect the confluence of physical and digital worlds
If a metaverse is persistent, it continues to exist even after we leave it. Persistency is particularly relevant for AR experiences. For instance, in a physical art gallery, we can’t see the augmented experience linked with a painting with the naked eye. However, if we look at the same painting with a smartphone – or wear smart glasses, if applicable – we can observe that it’s there. And if we look at it with the naked eye, it’s gone again, although it continues to exist in the AR application.
Persistency is a key concept to building a metaverse that enhances our physical reality instead of becoming an escape from it.
This term can indicate any digital experience, asset, place, etc., linked to a physical counterpart, such as a physical NFT sneaker.
Haptic technology helps stimulate the sense of touch through sensors that transfer force and vibration.
We can feel as if we were actually present in a remote environment through virtual scenes in a physical environment made possible through XR and haptics. Advanced teleconference systems are examples of telepresence.
Identity and self-expression related terms
It defines decentralized identities where users own and control their data.
#18 Digital twins
They are the exact copies of their real-life counterparts. Digital twins are continuously fed real-time data to reflect their physical twins precisely.
#19 Expressive avatars
These avatars can simulate realistic facial movements and expressions to allow more natural metaverse interactions.
#20 The Proteus effect
It describes the situation in which users’ behaviors in a virtual environment change according to the stereotypes attached to their avatars. For example, people with tall avatars may speak more confidently.