The potential of the metaverse is mind-boggling. Market watchers argue over how many billions of dollars the industry will be worth by 2030. Give or take a hundred billion dollars or so, they all agree that the potential for businesses to harness the metaverse is huge. We’re living in a digital age, where Millennials and Gen Z use immersive technologies for massively multiplayer online games such as Fortnite. The immersive experience offered by the metaverse means that you could watch your favorite movie sitting in a virtual cinema, attend an event or birthday party–even consult a doctor–all within a virtual world while you stand in your living room.
In this article, we’re taking a dive into the metaverse to explore the types of cutting-edge technologies that your organization can harness to join this brave new world. If you’re a business or digital leader, could the metaverse be the next step in your digital transformation journey?
How does the metaverse work?
The metaverse is a digitally created immersive environment that humans access through the use of a visor that presents their avatar in situ within a world carved out by 3D visualizations and clever design engineers. Done well, it can feel VERY real.
John Radoff, an entrepreneur and novelist, defined the working model of the Metaverse, a virtual digital universe founded on experience, discovery, creator, economy, spatial computing, decentralization, human computing and infrastructure.
To create a more immersive environment, you will need an amalgamation of highly advanced tools and technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies, extended reality (AR and VR), artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 3D reconstruction.
For instance, blockchain can create value transfer and data storage. AR will improve 3D visualization and real-time interaction, and VR will enhance sensory experiences. Likewise, IoT and AI combined with machine learning can create smoother interactions and easier data integration. Lastly, 3D reconstruction can help to simulate a real environment in digital spaces.
Defining the key tools and technologies
The metaverse is a key transformation in the digital aspect of our daily lives and everyone is ready to see it as a share uniform virtual world. Therefore it becomes very important to have an in-depth understanding of the core technologies which will make it possible to provide such an immersive world.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Also known as Extended Reality (XR), AR and VR are the entry points for the metaverse. Their primary function is to make the 3D experience more immersive and engaging.
For example, AR makes real-life characters and environments as digital visual elements. It is more easily accessible than VR, as users just need to use their smartphones to experience it. AR has the ability to expand the horizons of the metaverse and simulate lifelike experiences, where users can feel, hear and interact exactly as they would in the real world. Whereas VR works in a different dimension, it creates a computer-generated virtual environment, and to access it, users need the tools to experience VR, like VR headsets, gloves and sensors.
These technologies form the backbone of the metaverse, and together they can enhance user experience in the virtual realm.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
Blockchain technology will change the face of the financial activity in the metaverse, allowing the user, in multiple spaces, to access data and verify it in real time. Almost like a shared database.
Cryptocurrencies are the regular currency used in the metaverse, such as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) or bitcoin. It gives the user digital ownership of products and services, exactly like in the real world. This means you can buy a piece of land in the metaverse or collect digital art. It may also make its way into work culture by providing incentives to employees for working in the metaverse. Moreover, blockchain as a technology will also help to make large online payments and transactions secure, quick and hassle-free.
AI has its strategic benefits in businesses for decision-making, facial recognition, faster computing, and much more. Combined with machine learning, it has the potential to process large amounts of data and quickly adapt iterations and account data to give unique output and insights.
AI has a significant role in metaverse gaming, as it can create NPCs or characters (bots) who can partake in lifelike conversations and activities, providing a more seamless experience. It can also create digital avatars that are realistic, accurate, and dynamic, by making use of 2D images or 3D scans. Thus, AI technology has the potential to give users a unique digital identity – a necessity in the virtual universe.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects things in the real world to the internet. Generally, IoT use cases include temperature control devices, lightning, home security, medical devices, etc. IoT-controlled devices allow you to see their data, and control and operate them remotely.
IoT collected data enhances digital representations. Its use in connecting to devices or objects in real life can make the 3D digital world much more immersive. Thus, IoT can harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to decrease human reliance on device assistants like GOOGLE Voice Assistant and Siri , while enhancing the virtual experience through customized voice commands.
3D technology is not novel in any form. During the recent pandemic, this 3D technology proved helpful in real estate, by simulating the environments of the properties and enabling buyers to view properties remotely on an immersive virtual tour. The metaverse will offer something similar, where buyers can buy properties by viewing them remotely. However, creating a 3D model that closely replicates our environment remains a challenge.
The metaverse is in its infancy and there are numerous challenges that need to be addressed and resolved. These challenges include identification and data privacy issues, authentication of identity for transactions, and the accessibility of tools (VR goggles, haptic gloves, etc). It will be difficult (but not impossible). However, tech giants like META, Nvidia, Sandbox, and Microsoft have already started to explore the hidden potential of the metaverse and, soon, with the advancement of existing technologies like AI, AR, and VR, we will all be able to experience a new universe.