The metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. It refers to a persistent, online virtual world where users can interact with each other and with software agents in a 3D environment.
The metaverse concept has been further popularized by the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Second Life, in which users can create and inhabit avatars that interact with other avatars and virtual objects in a 3D world.
The metaverse is also often used to describe the emerging trend of integrating the physical world with the digital world, such as through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
The metaverse started to generate tons of interest when Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook announced they had huge plans for the virtual space. As owners of Oculus Rift, the company hopes to usher in a new age of VR and AR with people using their equipment.