The Metaverse: what it could mean for Fairbanks

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:45 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The words “virtual reality” have become more common in the last ten years.

The term refers to a digital world that can be traveled even while staying at home.

Jim Cullinan, spokesperson for Meta, said. “Things that you’ve done, maybe in person, or didn’t have an opportunity to do, you can do in the metaverse.”

“I would describe the Metaverse as the next version of the Internet,” he explained.

The applications for this technology keep growing, going beyond entertainment.

Now it’s used for education and healthcare, even surgery. “We’re already seeing schools and medical schools use virtual reality to go and practice on key procedures because you can do it over and over again without having to have maybe a cadaver or go and have something to go and practice on,” said Cullinan.

The Metaverse can be used for virtual learning and even tourism, with applications that highlight businesses and activities in a local area. As Cullinan said, “You have so much to offer here in Alaska, and whether it’s from hiking trails to right here, the Alaska Pipeline process right here next to Fairbanks, how do you go and give people a taste of what they can see when they visit.”

However, there are barriers in Alaska to its full adoption, particularly access to broadband. “Broadband is always going to be key,” said Cullinan.

It may still be awhile before the technology reaches enough households and businesses, both in Alaska and the lower 48, to catch on. Cullinan added, “I think you’re going to start seeing the real imprint of the metaverse in about seven, ten years.”

Meta is the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, among other well-known entities.

However, Cullinan says the technology is open for other businesses to make their mark.