in Articles, Metaverse

Three megatrends are imminent. Each trend triggers a next paradigm metashift: a fundamental change of how we think about the metaverse and see our world. Literally.

Megatrends leading to Triple Paradigm Metashift

  • The first megatrend is the relocation of key functions in all-in-one mobile phones to mobile hubs with a wide range of wearable companions:
    • Wireless earplugs replaced your phone’s mic and speakers (speech)
    • Smartwatches take over phone controls (touch and gestures)
    • Smart (AR) eyewear might soon substitute your phone’s screen (sight)
  • This current megatrend, Modular Mobility, enables us to superimpose anything digital into our real-world easily with small-factor AR overlays
  • The rapid growth of Augmented Reality in the real-world instead of VR in simulated worlds, leads to the second megatrend: Reverse Virtuality
  • Reverse Virtuality (RV) is the new mindset that the metaverse is not about merely an online 3D world for VR gear but about the real-world application of truly Mixed Reality for our AR-first physical world.
  • These megatrends bring both big benefits and challenges that phase us to the third megatrend, ultimately leading to Societal Metamorphosis
    • First phase: Digital Disorder, bad actors abusing disruptive meta-tech
    • Next phase: Digital Renaissance, tech-for-good tackling global crises
    • Final phase: Digital Singularity, irrevocable transformation of society
  • The good news? A Digital Singularity would be so much better for human civilization than a Technological Singularity. The bad? It’ll be tough first.

Our world is on the brink of another technological revolution.

As we stand atop the steep slope of the S-Curve Pattern of Innovation, we can’t help but wonder what the future holds. Following the (mobile) internet revolution with the rise of the web and smartphones, it’s difficult to predict what lies ahead.

When we look closely though, we can see the first hints of a new megatrend emerging. Only a select few futurists and tech analysts have been able to spot it so far, despite the fact that the first megatrend is unravelling in plain sight.

Spoiler alert: no, it is not “the Metaverse” as online 3D world as you might imagine by Meta’s marketing machine. It’s much closer to home and *right in your face* (pun intended) so let’s dive into this first megatrend: Modular Mobility.

Paradigm Metashift #1: Modular Mobility
from mobile phone to hub of wearables

You might not be actively aware of this, but essential functions of your smartphone are being relocated to wearable companions, such as:

  • Your phone’s mic and speakers (speech) moved to your wireless earplugs
  • Your phone’s control moved to your smartwatch (touch and gestures)
  • Your phone’s small screen (sight) will be next soon and it’s not VR.

Between 2023 and 2025 you will see a rapid increase of Augmented Reality (AR) eyewear in the form of improved spectacles, monocles or even lenses, especially once Apple will enter the market of smart glasses.

This megatrend triggers the first paradigm metashift: Modular Mobility. It involves the transformation of today’s smartphones from all-in-one mobile clients to tomorrow’s mobile hubs. These smarthubs, along with their wearable companions, will primarily augment our real-world with digital assets and sensory intelligence.

Credits: “Modular Mobility” by Mike van Zandwijk using DALL-E

In addition, an interconnected swarm of hubs will supplement our digital worlds with real-time information from the physical environment. In essence, this global swarm of mobile hubs is the live feed to a Digital Twin of our world.

The eventual realization of this truly Mixed Reality (MR) will inevitably trigger the second paradigm metashift, so read on.

Paradigm Metashift #2: Reverse Virtuality
from online VR to ‘onlife’ AR

Reverse Virtuality (RV) is the awakening from the notion of “the Metaverse” as an online 3D world that is best experienced with Virtual Reality (VR) gear.

Instead, our society is coming to realize that our real-world and the metaverse must, can and will be one and the same, thanks to innovative Augmented Reality (AR) products caused by the first megatrend.

Imagine a Portable Augmented Reality Computer (PARC) for example or Mobile Augmented Reality System (MARS) in a small and thin form-factor like a lens or monocle before or around 2030. These technologies will enable us to seamlessly blend the virtual and the real, creating a truly immersive onlife experience. We’ll bring digital assets into the physical world and augment our reality in ways that were previously unimaginable. We will be able to interact with digital information and media in a natural and intuitive way, using our own senses and movements (hence Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT and these new smart sneakers with haptic feedback and gesture control).

Credits: “Reverse Virtuality” by Mike van Zandwijk using DALL-E

The metashift to so-called onlife AR will have profound implications for our society. It will change how we communicate, learn, work, and play. It will also bring new challenges, such as the need to manage our digital and physical identities, and to ensure privacy and security in both our online as offline life.

But the benefits of onlife AR far outweigh the challenges. It will open up new opportunities for education, entertainment, and business.

Paradigm Metashift #3: Societal Metamorphosis
from digital disruption to social (g)ratification

The final paradigm metashift is called Societal Metamorphosis: a fundamental change in the way we think about and interact with technology and its impact on our society over three distinct phases.

Digital Disorder (2025~2033)

The first phase of this metashift will be characterized by a rapid growth of digital disruptions due to the development of stronger artificial intelligence. ChatGPT from is just one example of the types of AI that will become increasingly common in the near future.

Initially, these AI systems may get trained as bad actors in metaverses, manipulating us in the same way that hidden algorithms on social media currently do today. AI persuading us to buy a commercial product is one thing; confidently convincing us to believe a fake news article about big issues is a whole different ball game.

Digital Renaissance (2030~2045)

The second phase of this metashift will be a digital renaissance, where we use even stronger AI and other advanced technologies for the greater good. This will involve using AI and other cutting-edge technologies to tackle some of the biggest problems facing our world, such as climate change and inequality.

Credits: “Societal Metamorphosis” by Mike van Zandwijk using DALL-E

Digital Singularity (~2050 and beyond)

The third and final phase of the Societal Metamorphosis is marked by an irrevocable transformation of society.

In this Digital Singularity phase, society will have reached a new level of understanding about the potential and limitations of technology. We will use this knowledge to shape a better future for ourselves and future generations by creating technologies and systems that are more equitable, sustainable, and beneficial for all of humanity. This could involve the development of technologies that address global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and inequality, as well as the creation of new systems that are more just and equitable.

The Digital Singularity is a time of great opportunity, as it represents the possibility of using technology for good to create a better future for all.

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