What exactly do I mean by “future internet”? I’m talking about the third evolution of the web, where life online will become more decentralized and immersive. This stage follows web1, which was based on static websites, and web2, which was characterized by user-generated content and driven by social media companies like Tencent and Facebook.
You can use the terms “web3” and “future internet” interchangeably.
While these terms may mean slightly different things to different people, there are predictions I can make as a futurist about how web3 technologies will play out and affect the way we live, work, and play.
Here are five trends that may influence the future internet:
The Metaverse and Immersive Experiences
In the future internet, digital (online) activities will merge with virtual and physical worlds to create realistic, immersive experiences. Brands, schools, employers, and individuals will all operate their own virtual worlds where people can gather to learn, game, work, or socialize.
The metaverse — a persistent, shared digital environment where we can move from activity to activity with the same avatar, digital assets, and preferences — brings together technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and digital twins to create a more immersive, realistic and engaging internet.
The Rise of Decentralization
In the decentralized internet, power and control are distributed rather than centralized. In the future, the internet will increasingly be powered by decentralized technologies like blockchain and peer-to-peer networks rather than being controlled by a few government entities or large corporations. This would allow for greater privacy and security and will cut down on censorship. A decentralized internet will also enable new types of applications and services that are not possible on the current centralized internet.
Three concepts that play a central role in web3 are:
● Blockchain: A method of storing information built around distributed computing, encryption, and transparency.
● Cryptocurrencies: Digital currencies used for secure financial transactions that run on blockchain networks.
● Non-fungible tokens (NFTs): Digital assets that represent ownership of a unique item or asset. NFTs can be securely bought, sold, and traded online, and each NFT represents a unique item or asset, like a piece of art, a collectible, or even a tweet.
● Decentralized applications (dApps): Digital applications that run on a blockchain, outside the control of a single authority.
Hardware innovations like goggles, glasses, and headsets will help speed up the next iteration of the future internet.
Big tech companies are not only creating cutting-edge VR headsets for when we want a fully immersive internet experience, but they're also working on devices like smart glasses that we can comfortably wear while walking around and interacting in the real world.
I recently tried out a prototype of smart glasses made by Viture. These glasses look just like regular sunglasses, but they display a 120-inch virtual screen in front of your face. With these glasses, I could block out the real world to play a game or watch a video, or look through them just like normal glasses.
Smart glasses of the future will bring augmented reality to life by displaying digital images and information in front of our eyes as we move through our days. This will be one way we’ll incorporate AR into the way we work, play, and live.
It could be possible that with this new wearable technology, we may reach a point where we no longer need smartphones.
Body augmentation is the use of technology to enhance or modify the human body. In our current society, we’re already altering our bodies, including things like the implantation of devices like cochlear implants for hearing or pacemakers for controlling heart function.
As part of the future internet, body augmentation will go further. Mojo Vision is developing AR contact lenses that position micro-LED displays inside the wearer’s eyes. Imagine being able to put in these lenses, and see weather information, chat messages, or AR information about the world around you.
Some companies are pushing body augmentation even further and trying to hook our brains directly to the internet. “Neural VR” combines virtual reality technology with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to create immersive, interactive experiences that are directly connected to an individual's nervous system.
With neural VR, users can control and interact with virtual environments and objects using their thoughts rather than traditional input devices such as a keyboard or controller.
Companies like Neurable, Meta, and Elon Musk’s Neuralink project are all working on BCIs that have the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with the future internet.
Bringing the Touch and Sound to the Internet
Developers are also hard at work on devices and wearables that allow us to experience the internet on deeper levels using a full range of senses.
There are already haptic suits like the Teslasuit that can deliver a full-body experience that simulates actual touch, but they’re not currently attainable for most VR users. In the future, haptic devices like gloves will become more accessible for everyday users, and lightweight, wearable haptic patches will deliver a sense of human touch across long distances.
Sound will also play an incredibly important role in the Internet of the future. With spatial audio, we'll be able to enjoy 360-degree sound in our virtual experiences and communications. Companies will also need to give more thought to their sonic branding — the use of music or audio elements to create their own unique, consistent, and memorable audio identity.