June 19, 2024

The metaverse is being referred to as the internet’s unavoidable advancement. However, there remains uncertainty regarding its nature and potential future prospects. Gain insight into what enterprises must be aware of at present time.

Envision a digital realm where billions of individuals reside, labor, make purchases, acquire knowledge and engage with one another – all while remaining situated on their physical couches.

Today, the computer screens that we utilize to connect with a comprehensive network of information in this realm have transformed into gateways to a tangible 3D virtual domain – an enhanced and expansive reality. Our digital replicas or avatars are unrestrained as they traverse through diverse encounters whilst carrying our monetary assets and identities alongside them.

Despite the hype surrounding it, what’s referred to as the metaverse doesn’t currently exist.

How should enterprise leaders approach a rapidly evolving, overhyped concept that could potentially transform human existence? TechTarget’s extensive manual on the metaverse provides an analysis of its current standing and trajectory. The guide delves into various subjects including the technologies and platforms responsible for supporting this emerging technology revolution, its advantages and difficulties, investment strategies to consider, as well as insights regarding its history; elucidating why it is significant while exploring how it can impact future employment possibilities.

The guide contains links to detailed examinations of these and other pertinent subjects, along with explanations of significant terms in the metaverse like interoperability, digital twins, spatial computing and Web 3.0.

What is the significance of the metaverse?


In October 2021, Facebook’s decision to rebrand under the name “Meta” brought the term “Metaverse” into mainstream vernacular. The company pledged $10 billion towards its realization that year alone, joined by other industry leaders like Google, Microsoft and Nvidia who are collectively investing billions in this nascent concept. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has forecasted a bullish estimate of $5 trillion for the Metaverse economy by 2030 – primarily driven by e-commerce – with gaming, entertainment marking an education emerging as key growth sectors within it.

Today, the term “metaverse” is employed by companies to categorize a plethora of improved online environments. These include various options like Fortnite’s video games and pioneering virtual offices such as Microsoft’s Mesh or Meta’s Horizon Workrooms along with digital dressing rooms and surgical theaters. Instead of existing as one collective virtual realm, the modern manifestation of metaverse presents itself in multiple forms known as multiverses – numerous intersecting realms that lack interoperability since businesses compete for prominence.

There has been some pushback due to the mixture of unexamined excitement for the metaverse and a significant lack of clarity on its potential outcomes. Some experts in the field have raised doubts as to whether this new digital landscape will truly revolutionize our online experiences, or if it will be similar to what we already know. Furthermore, there are questions about whether people will be willing to spend extensive amounts of time using headsets just to explore virtual environments every day.

While certain futurists maintain that the metaverse is still in its infancy and faces significant technical obstacles, others argue that it will undoubtedly come into existence – perhaps with a substantive impact.

Dave Wright, the chief innovation officer at IT provider ServiceNow, informed George Lawton from TechTarget in “History of the metaverse explained” that it is evident it will be one of the most eagerly anticipated technological advancements within this coming decade.

Can you give me a short history of the metaverse?

According to many in the computer industry, the metaverse represents a future version of the internet which is a unified and immersive virtual space that facilitates experiences beyond those possible in real life. It boasts persistence and 3D dimensions allowing humans to live an alternative existence online.

The rapidly evolving technologies facilitating access to the virtual world encompass virtual reality (VR) headsets and augmented reality (AR) glasses, while other paramount facets of the metaverse like adequate bandwidth or interoperability standards may take several years to manifest or might never come into being.

The idea is not fresh since the word ‘metaverse’ was first used in 1992 by Neal Stephenson, a science-fiction author in his book called Snow Crash. The development of technologies that support an internet-based on virtual reality has been ongoing for decades.

What is the functioning of the metaverse?

Due to a significant lack of development within the metaverse, there exists minimal consensus on its operational functions.

In general, the metaverse is comprised of a digital environment constructed through diverse forms of 3D technology accompanied by real-time collaboration software and decentralized finance tools that operate on blockchain.

The success of the metaverse will determine aspects like data portability, user interfaces, interoperability among virtual worlds and governance.

At the 2022 MIT Platform Strategy Summit, Lauren Lubetsky – a senior manager at Bain & Company – presented three prospective scenarios pertaining to the metaverse during her session.

Although the metaverse is utilized by consumers mainly for leisure and gaming, it still falls short of being a complete virtual reality due to its limited application domain.

Large competing ecosystems such as Apple and Android meta worlds control the metaverse, with minimal interoperability.

The metaverse is akin to the internet in 3D, characterized by interactivity, openness and interoperability.

What is the method of accessing the metaverse?

Virtual reality and augmented reality are regarded as crucial technologies that facilitate the progression and expansion of the metaverse.

A 3D environment that emulates reality and permits users to engage with a virtual setting in a manner akin to our sensory experiences is known as virtual reality. To access this simulated world, people usually use VR headsets, which occupy the entire range of their vision. The usage of haptic technology such as gloves, vests or even whole-body tracking outfits enhances interactions inside the digital landscape by making them more realistic.

Compared to VR, augmented reality offers a less immersive experience. By utilizing lenses or similar technology, digital overlays are superimposed onto the real world while users remain able to interact with their surroundings. One early example of AR is the popular game Pokemon Go, while other well-known consumer products include Google Glass and heads-up displays on car windshields.

Tuong H. Nguyen, a senior principal analyst at Gartner, said to Lawton that it is unclear whether VR and AR experiences will be the primary interfaces of the metaverse. He also mentioned that what we currently have are early solutions leading up to or preparing for the metaverse.

Currently, numerous gaming platforms like Roblox, Decentraland and Minecraft provide metaverse-like experiences that can be readily accessed via browsers or mobile devices with a high-speed internet connection.

A detailed examination: The interconnection between virtual reality and metaverse.

Although VR is commonly linked with the metaverse, these two terms are not interchangeable. Specifically, various VR technologies enable interaction within larger multiverse platforms as described earlier.

VR has the potential to assist with numerous metaverse applications within its access role. A feasible example is when VR collaborates alongside digital twin technology, an affiliated field that enables establishments to construct virtual representations of physical elements such as devices, machines or operations. According to Johna Till Johnson – CEO and founder of Nemertes Research – technologists can utilize a VR extension for their digital twins in order simulate diverse difficulties.

The industrial metaverse is impacted by VR.

According to TechTarget news writer Jim O’Donnell, the industrial metaverse is set to revolutionize manufacturing by utilizing VR and digital twinning as its foundational elements. By connecting digital twins within a virtual environment that encompasses factories, machines, products, and supply chains; this emerging metaverse subset will serve as an innovative platform for the industry.

In his article discussing how enterprises can use virtual reality, IT consultant Asim Rahal highlighted industrial design as a promising application. By using VR technology, organizations have the ability to analyze and predict the impact of various design elements on products. Additionally, by creating simulated prototypes with VR instead of physical ones, costs can be minimized significantly. Therefore, it is expected that product designers and manufacturers will soon integrate virtual reality into their workflows in order to streamline processes within the industrial realm .

Asim stated that employee safety training is currently utilizing VR technology in organizations, particularly those with work settings where errors can result in harm. Workers on an assembly line may receive virtual preparation before entering the factory or emergency personnel could improve their disaster readiness via VR simulation practice without actual risk present.

“Transformative Digital Technology for Effective Workplace Learning” author Ria O’Donnell affirms that VR applications provide crucial workplace benefits by effectively reducing risks.

The healthcare metaverse is being set up by VR.

An industrial metaverse could house VR-based training systems, which would augment digital twins down the line. However, enterprise applications span beyond manufacturing markets alone; take healthcare as an example where VR has the potential to revolutionize surgical education. According to TechTarget’s Xtelligent Healthcare Media arm, surgeons will be able to practice a specific procedure on-demand multiple times using VR training leading to shorter learning curves and enhanced competence levels.

According to Xtelligent, virtual reality is being investigated by medical researchers for its potential applications in healthcare disciplines such as pediatrics and pain management.

These applications are the initial examples of what could evolve into a healthcare metaverse, where VR would work in tandem with other technologies such as blockchain and digital twins.

Corporate training is strengthened by VR.

Although VR is particularly beneficial for specialized training purposes, its potential within the enterprise sector extends far beyond that. The report on VR use cases for learning and development outlines a range of applications, including preparing individuals for complex scenarios like astronauts in space; documenting institutional knowledge to pass onto future employees before current workers retire; providing empathy lessons aimed at improving customer service interactions; as well as offering soft skills training opportunities.

Regarding the latter, VR can have some advantages for soft skills training. PwC research indicates that one of those is faster class completion rates. According to their study, participants completed virtual reality-based soft skills training up to four times faster than traditional classroom sessions. Additionally, they noted a significant increase in confidence levels – up to 275% – among individuals who underwent VR training for developing certain soft skills.

Improved confidence is achieved through the utilization of VR’s immersive learning techniques as well as learners’ capacity to practice skills repeatedly in a comfortable environment. As a result, training may become an important feature available within augmented reality environments due to their ability to simulate scenarios that are difficult or costly to reproduce in real life situations.

Alternative metaverse technologies

Despite the presence of various technologies that contribute to shaping the metaverse, there is no final list currently available.

Esther Shein, a technology writer, discussed in her article “7 top technologies for metaverse development” how it is difficult to develop a standard list of technologies that will pave the way for the metaverse. This complexity arises due to both its fluid nature and because several tools involved are comprised of multiple technological components – contributing overall towards advancements within this field.

For instance, Gartner opts to label metaverse technologies as “tech themes,” which encompass spatial computing, digital humans, shared experiences, gaming and tokenized assets. On the other hand, Forrester Research portrays metaverse tools primarily as catalysts for 3D development environments. To successfully create digital twins with advanced proficiency in 3D modeling and IoT expertise companies will need to procure professionals having matching skill sets.

According to the expert sources consulted by Shein, it was agreed that these seven technologies would make the most significant contribution towards metaverse development in the next decade.

AI.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will be the technology that connects everyday objects to give them internet connectivity and allows for remote monitoring or control.

Extended Reality (XR), incorporating both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Interfaces between the brain and computer.

Modeling and reconstructing in 3D.

Computing that is spatial and at the edge.

The technology known as Blockchain.

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