For Omar Wael, it was the Spielberg film Ready Player One that planted the bold idea of building his own virtual social world in the now 13-year-old’s mind.
As a young child growing up in Egypt, Wael had always harboured a passion for all things technology and artificial intelligence (AI).
The ambitious teen even built his first robot at the tender age of nine.
But the Spielberg film, which relates a tale where most of humanity exists in a virtual simulation, ignited a fascination in him for virtual social worlds, or metaverses.
So not long after, Wael set about developing one of his own.
Using some of his mother's old clothes, Wael developed a sensory vest and glove. He also started working on a software which he hopes will allow pupils like himself to attend classes via the metaverse.
His idea started taking shape when the metaverse became more easily accessible, thanks to tech companies investing billions into the industry in the past few years.
"This saves the environment and reduces traffic," he explained.
"Researchers who work on chemical experiments won't have to buy expensive chemical material, they can simply carry out their experiments in a virtual lab in a simulation of what happens in reality exactly".
Wael has subsequently won various local and international awards for his project “The Other World,” for which he hopes to secure funding to enable him to develop it further.