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Even though the Metaverse has been the buzz word for quite some time, most people still ask the question ‘what exactly is metaverse?’.
The Metaverse is a virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer generated environment and other users. It’s been called the future of the internet, and many industries are planning to incorporate it into their long-term plan. Although the meaning of metaverse is expanding daily and it’s still difficult to define exactly what it means, here we will give an overview of the Metaverse, it’s use-cases and how it can be used as a tool for brands.
So, what exactly is the Metaverse?
Our lives are already intersected virtually – through surfing on web, social media or giving commands to Alexa. Through the Metaverse there are more layers added to the mix with the help of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), which have the capability of immersing you in a more virtual environment using avatars and holograms.
The Metaverse has the capacity to provide information in the real world. For example, there may be smart glasses that will remind you of someone’s birthday when you meet them, and VR gloves may allow you to feel objects that are not present. You may also be able to visit popular destinations or have a preview of your new house even before it is built.
The Metaverse refers to a shared virtual world that offers 3D virtual spaces, solutions and environments created by users – a virtual shared area open to everyone. There are digital twins created for the physical world we live in, and metaverse through the network, provides an access to this digital world. The Metaverse offers a unique opportunity for growth within the immersive world of virtual reality, with the potential to completely transform industry verticals.
There have been precursors to the Metaverse in the form of Linden Lab’s multimedia platform, Second Life, launched in 2003, and other 3D interactive platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite, that allow users to create avatars and interact with other gamers. Even though the Metaverse is not yet controlled by anyone, it comes with growing sets of ethical codes, government policies and standards. The Metaverse is the natural evolution of the internet and is expected to be open just like the internet.
Metaverse as a tool and a target
In terms of usage metaverse can be utilised as a tool or as a target. As a tool metaverse can solve problems in the real world. It can be used to perform tasks such as psychological treatments, explore remote areas, and train workforce. Familiar environments can be created making it possible to perform tasks that are difficult, avoiding hindrances such as costs or physical travel. It can simplify difficult tasks such as engineering using different modes, optics, computing, and statistics as tools. User behaviour in the Metaverse is recorded through quantified data and can be analysed better enabling accurate research - making it useful for business, marketing, and policy related tasks.
The Metaverse as a target can be used to perform services and therefore generate profit. It is not just a reflection of the real world, rather it can be used for social communication including games, entertainment as well as academic problem solving. Companies can use the Metaverse as a potential new market to gain income and advertise. The Metaverse makes it possible to have role playing through interactions and avatars and facilitate commercial activities such as real estate.
How can the Metaverse be used in various applications?
The Metaverse can be a fantastic experience enabling users to explore other worlds. With this understanding, companies are now spending billions to create immersive experiences. Here are some of the most useful applications for metaverse:
AR/VR games - Developers will be able to use the Metaverse SDK to build games and applications that take full advantage of Virtual Reality. It will enable developers to create web3 games and metaverse experiences across various value chains. VR headsets have the capability of exposing the user to high-quality representations, leading to an extremely engaging experience. The Metaverse use cases also include AR/VR games with digital assets that can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies such as ETP and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
Gamers are going to be at the front lines of this evolution. But for them to hop on to the metaverse journey, the hurdles around poor internet connectivity and expensive hardware need to be addressed. Gamers wouldn’t mind paying more if the cloud gaming subscription is bundled with dedicated 5G connectivity.
Healthcare - Metaverse has the best application in healthcare using augmented reality (AR), with potential to improve all aspects from mental health to complicated surgeries. With the use of AR, AI, and virtual reality, the knowledge base and skills of medical students can be enhanced. Surgical procedures can further be improved with the usage of surgical assistive tools by using technology such as HoloLens.
Manufacturing use cases for metaverse include 3D design validation, remote inspection, and virtual operation. VR applications in the Metaverse can help with employee training with safety and real-life simulations of risky situations. This results in reduced accidents and efficient production process resulting in better products.
Traditional teaching methods can never compare to the high level of effectiveness offered by virtual reality in terms of highlighting learning concepts through attractive visuals. Students are more motivated to learn since they can experience learning in a more real-life scenario.
Military – AR and VR has a big role to play in military applications. Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR) is a technology like night vision goggles, that can help with providing precise locations during military combats.
Potential use cases for the Metaverse in sports will enable an even better sports-viewing experience. Imagine stepping into an arena where everyone is in their own unique avatar. Here players will be able to create their own avatars, socialise, co-watch, train, work, purchase equipment, and participate in sports league. Some sports use cases for the Metaverse could include VR player training programmes and VR replay analysis applications. Matches could have a panoramic view of the entire game, and the audience could zoom into any aspect of the game.
Enterprises have the opportunity to develop new application types using augmented or virtual reality experiences in areas such as training, field service, remote maintenance, or product visualisation. Through the Metaverse, companies can create more human interactions and experiences. Interviews, meetings or walkthroughs can take place even before someone starts working at a company. Similarly, live product demos and interactive training could take place.
Metaverse and the role of connectivity providers
Connectivity is what ties the Metaverse development and broadening of the virtual worlds. Consumers and businesses will be able to enter metaverse with the help of 5G – with its peak data speeds of multi-gigabits per second, ultra-low latency, and great reliability. Telecom operators can play a more important role in the metaverse value chain. They can be cocreators in the metaverse universe by leveraging technologies such as 5G, Edge Computing, and AI. Telecom operators can look at utilizing the Metaverse for monetising new opportunities and enhancing customer experience.
For this to happen, the industry will require in-home connectivity packages that guarantees bandwidth, functionality, and security to allow Metaverse use cases to thrive. This can be achieved through the collaboration of many partners, including Communication Service Providers (CSPs), private enterprise networks, and IoT developers to ensure a consistent experience.
With network advancement to 6G, further development in the Metaverse is expected to take place by 2030. This shift will improve the Metaverse with the higher bandwidth speed and lower latency of 6G network.
That being said, similar to the internet, it needs a close watch for safety and privacy, along with the competition and open access that enables the Metaverse to evolve. So, creating public policies for Metaverse needs to be a collaborative effort where industry leaders and policy makers along with potential users in various communities are involved. The societal effects of metaverse also needs to be considered, in terms of social interactions, psychological aspects related to addiction, application of law, trust, privacy, bias, and disinformation.
The Metaverse itself will see the emergence of new technologies that will exploit the changes. It's an exciting time for technology, and we look forward to watching it play out.