The hype surrounding the metaverse is overwhelming.
The term metaverse was coined 30 years ago by author Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash. Yet, we’ve seen the launch of online networks that embody many of the metaverse’s most important concepts without ever using the term.
The rebranding of Facebook to Meta in October 2021 significantly increased metaverse conversation. The hype has been driven by a variety of technology players claiming to be metaverse companies or creating a metaverse ahead of time.
Metaverse is one of the most recent technology buzzwords to make the news. What is it, and will it change everything? The answers are yes, no, and possibly. Is it just the most recent stage in the evolution of business transformation? Without a doubt, the metaverse transforms the traditional ecosystem concept into a 21st-century virtual business, social, and collaborative interaction space.
We hope to shed some light and spark some discussion about the latest evolution of the internet.
What Exactly Is The Metaverse?
According to venture capitalist and author Matthew Ball, the metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively infinite number of users with an individual sense of presence and with data continuity, such as:
We see it as a collection of technologies enabling persistent digital representation linked to aspects of the real world. The verse means “universe,” and meta means “beyond.” The metaverse refers to a parallel virtual world to the real world that can be experienced more fully with technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) (VR).
These virtual worlds will be linked to a social system and a fully functional economy through which data, digital goods, content, and intellectual property (IP) can flow, and individual users, organizations, and businesses will be able to create content and goods to ensure the metaverse’s continued expansion and evolution.
Microsoft paid $2.5 billion (about $8 per person in the United States) for Mojang Studios in 2014 and, over time, made virtual reality versions available on Oculus Rift, PlayStation, and Microsoft HoloLens.
Minecraft, like Lego blocks, provides infinite possibilities within an infinite digital space, allowing anyone to create their own metaverse. Minecraft, with over 130 million monthly users, is just one early example of how the metaverse is influencing our daily lives.
The Metaverse: An Internet Evolution
The metaverse will build on and iteratively transform the internet rather than completely replace it. It is a natural progression of the internet. The metaverse will continuously place everyone inside a “virtual” version of the internet, just as the fixed-line internet ushered in the age of personal computing and mobile internet increased the proliferation of content and access to the internet. It will allow us to always be “within” the internet, resulting in more immediate experiences.
Technology Is Expanding The Realm Of Possibility
From a technical standpoint, the metaverse’s building blocks, VR, AR, AI, and blockchain, are rapidly evolving. VR uses computer simulation to generate a three-dimensional space of the virtual world and provides the user with visual and other sensory stimulation to make them feel as if they are in the real world.
Blockchain technology will be used to establish credibility in identity and the economic system. Blockchain, as a distributed database or ledger shared among computer network nodes, ensures the accuracy and security of a data record without the need for a trusted third party.
Edge computing technology is required to ensure the plurality of the metaverse and a consistent experience for all users.
Case Studies in the Metaverse
A quick web search for metaverse reveals increased mentions throughout the mobility industry. Microsoft is also involved in this field, supporting consumer and industrial metaverses. According to a recent announcement, Microsoft and Meta are collaborating to deliver immersive experiences for the future of work and play.
In addition, examples of current industrial metaverse applications were shared at the Microsoft Ignite conference in September, such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries demonstrating metaverse enabling collaborative spaces for engineers, service technicians, and frontline workers using the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins, and mixed reality.
The Automotive Metaverse
In the automotive industry, we see the convergence of digital and physical worlds evolving in areas such as virtual vehicle design and physical production, driven by real-time collaboration on engineering design and materials.
The metaverse and digital twin models enable rapid production processes requiring significantly less physical testing, improving manufacturing and supply chain operations efficiency.
With detailed, physics-based designs to shrink the margin of error for production, this results in reduced risk and improved quality control. A digital twin powered by the metaverse can also be used to streamline and optimize supply chain management, from product design to procurement, manufacturing, and inventory.
In the case of vehicle sales, the metaverse is bridging the gap between the dealership and customers who prefer to buy online. In this space, 2D and 3D solutions provide virtual viewing of vehicles, test drives, and explanations of complex technology features to create a more fluid customer journey and purchasing experience for consumers.
Opportunities for improving the in-car customer experience are also being investigated. Entertainment, gaming, and productivity are all possibilities for engaging vehicle occupants when appropriate.
When it comes to service, the metaverse accelerates existing technician upskilling and enables remote virtual diagnostics and vehicle repair. This frictionless, touchless approach will lead to increased customer satisfaction and retention.
While some argue that the metaverse will enable more satisfying virtual social interaction and thus less need for physical mobility, others envision a future of more efficient multimodal mobility.
The metaverse will enable multi-modal transportation networks that are intelligently networked, constantly evolving, and integrated. The coordination of transporting people and goods will improve dramatically by leveraging digital twins of physical infrastructures, such as airports and major roadway systems, all the way down to transit infrastructure.
Travelers will plan and execute journeys across multiple transportation modes in an increasingly cost-effective and efficient manner as these services become part of the larger metaverse network, with AI automation dynamically reducing friction between origins, stops, and destinations.
Travel and Hospitality Metaverse
While the metaverse cannot replace travel, it can provide enhanced experiences and the opportunity to engage with customers more deeply through new and unexpected adventures.
The metaverse will assist the hospitality industry in meeting changing guest expectations. A virtual concierge can help travelers with pre-travel planning by allowing them to take virtual, three-dimensional walkthroughs of hotel room options, airport terminals, destinations, and attractions.
The goal will be to provide travelers with options and a clear picture of what to expect when they arrive at their destination. This will improve the booking experience, guest satisfaction, and booking volume.
What Is Our Current Status?
As we previously stated, several examples of real-world metaverse scenarios influence the industry today. The technology is still in its early stages, many opportunities are yet to be explored. As more examples emerge, we will see metaverse experiences classified as industrial or consumer metaverse, further defining the intended applications.
In either case, removing walled gardens is critical to ensuring long-term growth and adoption.
This means that the metaverse will necessitate a mutually agreed-upon set of underlying standards that allow people to live, work, and play in the metaverse while maintaining persistent digital identities and profiles.
The creator economy, universally accepted rules of behavior, recognition of digital currencies and a means of converting them into real-world currencies, digital object ownership rights, security standards and processes, and Web 3.0 will also be important.
The Metaverse and Web 3.0
Internet browsers connected everyone online in Web 1.0. Web 2.0 has expanded this connectivity and revolutionized the availability, speed, and access to information, as well as the way we connect and interact with others and the world around us.
Web 3.0 is referred to as the internet’s next generation. It will introduce new capabilities, such as blockchain, to become more equitable, transparent, and decentralized, concentrating power (and data) in the hands of users rather than entities. It will analyze, comprehend, intelligently integrate, and interpret data to provide users with a more personalized, interactive experience.
While Web 3.0 concerns who will own and control tomorrow’s decentralized internet, the metaverse concerns new ways for users to interact with the internet of the future. Web 3.0 and the metaverse complement each other, with Web 3.0 serving as the foundation for metaverse connectivity and the metaverse’s creator economy supplementing Web 3.0’s vision.
What Comes Next?
We have only scratched the surface of the metaverse’s possibilities. It will continue to evolve as a platform that drastically alters how we interact with the world around us.
From an industrial or consumer metaverse standpoint, we see increased interest, application, and exploration of metaverse capabilities in the broader mobility industry and adjacent industries such as retail, banking and insurance, and energy. The visions created in the metaverse today may well shape the future.