Metaverse – The future of the Internet


Metaverse – The future of the Internet

Metawares – What is it, why is it important and what does it mean for the future of technology?

Perhaps the best way to describe the metaverse and everything involved is to compare it to VR. The world of virtual reality has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1968, and the gaming world has grown exponentially over the past decade. It is not surprising that the big names in the industry are now investing millions in the development of this new technology and especially for the future of the internet.

Unlike current VR systems that focus solely on gaming, Metaverse is intended for use in everyday life from work to socializing and virtual concerts! Instead of being on a computer, you use the headset to create your own avatar and access the various digital environments in the metaverse.

Big companies like Facebook have already begun to make Metaverse’s future a top priority, with Zuckerberg investing $ 50 million in nonprofits to help build it.

Facebook is not the only big name. Disney has hired its own executive to oversee its Metaverse strategy. The theme park giant is looking to open up a whole new world of possibilities by implementing the Virtual Disney theme park!

Until we are fully immersed in the world of exploration and Metaverse, a lot of work needs to be done. However due to the investment of these companies and the efforts of thousands of technical engineers it seems that we are starting some important process.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for technology and whether we will be able to integrate this new virtual universe into our daily lives.

Metawares – The Next Digital Revolution for Business?

Unless you are a science-fiction fan, gaming fan or designer, Virtual Reality (VR) may not have played a big role in your life yet. However, when Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2021 and announced the creation of 10,000 new jobs in Europe, it was fair to assume that it was going to change.

Metaverse - The future of the Internet

The VR-based revolution has been promised for decades, but recent improvements in hardware and software, along with a new level of consumer engagement, have begun to create something truly disruptive in the near future. If you are in the gaming or entertainment business, the potential is obvious, but what are the metaverse for the rest of the business world and what are some challenges that need to be overcome? Is this something that deserves your attention now or will there be another step in the “hype curve” before it makes any big impact?

Has been coming for a long time

Metaverse is very simply described as VR space in which users can interact in computer-created environments, a description that refers to its initial application in gaming. Also, metaverse are definitely nothing new. Attempts to create virtual worlds have been going on for almost two decades. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1: Virtual worlds over the past two decades

One of the first was Active Worlds, created in 1995 and still exists today, allowing users to own worlds and universes and develop custom 3D content. Second Life came in 2003, which allowed people to create an avatar for themselves and live a second life in the online virtual world. It generated significant hype and high expectations, but did not handle more than 1 million users until 2013, a gradual decline until the 2020 epidemic reported a large increase in new registrations.

Roblox, founded in 2006, is an online game platform and game creation system that allows users to program and play games and is growing rapidly. Roblox, by making its development environment publicly available, allows anyone to develop games that are accessible in its virtual universe and allows players to purchase virtual assets such as using Apple’s App store. Roblox is like YouTube for video games, bringing creators and users together. With over 40 million daily users, more than $ 1 billion in revenue and almost 500% growth per year, Roblox has become a major player in emerging metaverse. It has also attracted the attention of brands, including luxury brands. For example, Gucci opened its Gucci Garden virtual space in Roblox for two weeks in late May 2021.

Gucci also released a limited edition in-game virtual bag that sold for $ 4,115. Cosmetic brands have begun to offer their own virtual beauty products. For example, in late April 2020, L’OrΓ©al allowed Snapchatters to actually try products from several brands, such as Garnier and Lanme.

Metaverse - The future of the Internet

Epic Games released the online game Fortnite in 2017 and it has become a cultural phenomenon, earning more than $ 5 billion in revenue by 2020. It featured rapper Travis Scott’s online concert, which was logged in by 12 million people (Figure 2). Young people, tomorrow’s consumers, are already spending a lot of money to wear their Fortnight avatars in trendy skin. In April 2020, Epic Games announced the completion of a $ 1 billion funding round that would support the company’s future growth and enable it to advance its long-term vision for Metaverse.

Figure 2: Travis Scott performing live in front of an audience of 12 million on Fortnight.

Entropia Universe, created by Swedish software company Mindβ€Œark and released in 2003, is a virtual game environment in which players can buy currency in the game using real money. As of 2010, the virtual club “Club Neverdy” has sold for $ 635,000. Virtual reality programs such as Decentralized use non-fungal tokens (NFTs) as property rights – tokens tied to the ground of 3D plots that can be bought and sold in the secondary market. In November 2021 vir. 500m2 plot  Virtual real estate acquired by virtual real estate company Metaverse Group sold for a record $ 2.43 million. There is no doubt that virtual assets may have the same commercial value as physical assets.

Even on the hardware side, technological advances on digital infrastructure and consumer devices have been rapid. For example, Apple has filed several patents for VR headsets over the past 10 years (Figure 3) and there has been a boom in VR appointments and acquisitions.

Figure 3: Virtual reality headset

Metaverse - The future of the Internet

The Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is also making rapid progress. For example, NextMind already offers a non-invasive BCI device that can read brain waves from the brain’s visual cortex to enable direct control over tasks in games. Imagining a virtual environment is no longer entirely fictional, at least as close to the surface as it is inseparable from the real thing.

So, there is already a long way to go before Metaverse can play online games. A better definition of Metaverse is “the future version of the web, in which the immersed 3D virtual universes converge on social networks, collaborative spaces, marketplaces and e-commerce”. If we consider Metaverse to be the default online environment in the future, replacing the current web, the business does not need further explanation of its potential significance. However, the next important question is: when should we worry about it? The recent history of the Gartner hype curve is replete with examples of new technologies that have been around for a long time, perhaps the most recent example being autonomous vehicles. Fifteen years ago, it was estimated that the virtual world would have a far greater effect than ever before. Is the hype around metaverse just another hype?

However, it is difficult for anyone to make a reliable estimate. But recent examples above show a combination of three main factors that suggest that we may be at the point of inflection in the exponential growth curve:

Software: We are now looking at the creation of meta platforms and standards that allow interoperability and enable the creation of multiple applications in a working value chain that has already begun to move beyond gaming.

Hardware: Accelerating progress in hardware at the infrastructure and user levels will reduce some of the barriers to widespread adoption of VR, such as the limited quality of the user experience and its relatively high cost.

Users: Thanks to the partnership with virtual interactions caused by the epidemic, the user base for VR is expanding not only among young users, but across all populations.

Like the World Wide Web, Exponential Growth Curve means, in practice, abrupt and increasingly rapid activity. It makes good business sense to be adequately prepared before this happens. Bloomberg Intelligence recently estimated that the market size of metaverse will reach US $ 800 billion by 2024.

Business Opportunities

So, beyond the obvious areas of gaming and entertainment, what are some business opportunities? Some good short-term candidates: collaboration, problem solving, training and programs. And these opportunities are relevant in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, automotive and telecommunications:

Collaboration: The pandemic has greatly accelerated remote work and is unlikely to return to the same level of physical co-operation we already have. However, remote workers complain that they are unable to communicate effectively personally because they cannot read any body language. Also, the long-term absence of person-to-person interaction can lead to problems such as layoffs and lack of visibility on productivity. High-quality Metaverse-type environment allows conferences, workshops and collaborative work sessions to be moved from the 2D screen to the immersive virtual workplace,

Employees use avatars to work together as in the real world. Facebook’s workroom app is an early example, which is chaotic right now but illustrates future possibilities. Microsoft Mesh is another current example of an immersive virtual environment for meeting and collaboration. Through online gaming we know that people in the 3D worlds are well connected to each other and sometimes form lifelong friendships.

Metaverse - The future of the Internet

Problem solving: 3D modeling is already well established as a major tool in areas such as architecture and industrial design. Advanced Metawars gives you space for a virtual 3D model using digital twins. This allows for better problem solving in many industries that do not use traditional 3D models, such as healthcare and life sciences. The latest example in the automotive and robotics fields is NVIDIA’s Omniverse Replicator, a synthetic data-generation engine that produces physically simulated synthetic data to train deep neural networks. Its early implementations included the NVIDIA DRIVE SIM, the virtual world to host digital pairs of autonomous vehicles, and NVIDIA Isaac SIM, the virtual world for digital twin manipulation robots.

Training: Virtual training has been around for a long time since the first aircraft simulators were created. It has already made significant progress in other areas that require highly specialized skills, such as robotic surgery. One such innovative example is Osso VR, which provides training in advanced surgical procedures using virtual worlds. Recently, there has been an explosion in the development of new virtual training offers for a wide range of less specialized applications. Virtual training is especially powerful in situations where interaction with physical objects or individuals is required.

And physical education at work is impossible, expensive or dangerous. A good example is Striver, which offers a suite of immersive training solutions covering areas such as health and safety, operational efficiency, customer service, soft skills and sports.

Events: For larger organizations, Metawares offers significant potential gains. A virtual workplace with virtual whiteboards, virtual screens and workstation equipment that transfers keystrokes to an employee’s home can create a much more collaborative conferencing experience than today’s regular team or zoom session. VR offers the opportunity to organize any large event, such as a conference or concert, into a fully virtual or hybrid event. Virtual events are reported to have increased tenfold during the pandemic (Forbes), with future compound annual growth expected to exceed 20% in the next 5 years. A common example is a party. Space already has an 11-location gallery and offers a “metawars-style” experience, including the use of games and deals (NFTs).

Broadly speaking, the emerging metawars value chain offers other types of opportunities, for example:

Physical to Virtual Products: The Metaverse environment provides a natural market for businesses that already sell digital products such as media, games and software. However, as mentioned earlier, consumer brands, especially luxury and designer brands, have the opportunity to expand their offerings from physical to virtual products. Another example is Louis Vuitton, which released nearly 40 different virtual outfits for the League of Legends game in 2019, including a $ 5,000 “leather” jacket. Although it is still an online game application, we can easily imagine that a huge expansion will take place when more everyday activities like work, education, socialization, buying, selling, entertainment, games and games start happening in Metaverse. For other types of virtual products, there may be opportunities ranging from clothing and accessories to virtual real estate. For companies that sell physical products, the ability to influence the virtual product capabilities to sell physical products is also important.

New Value Chain Roles: Whether meta wars must be monopolized (e.g., major infrastructure and giant-owned access such as meta) or whether it is fully public and accessible to all (or a combination of both), the emerging value chain offers new business opportunities. 

Figure 4: New value chain business opportunities

For example, there are new opportunities for hardware and software companies at the infrastructure level. Metaverse requires many new tools in the user interface, from wizards and haptic feedback devices to more global smartphones and personal computers. Enabling services include, for example, e-commerce, entertainment, search and reference services, social media and cloud services. The service economy leads to new markets for financial and legal services, including payments, security, cryptocurrency, blockchain, asset management, crossovers between the virtual and physical worlds. There will be new opportunities for content in the creative arts, design and innovation. YouTube is a helpful example in this regard. By bringing creators and audiences together, it has allowed thousands of new talent to emerge from the crowd and significantly disrupt established business models. Metaverse further blurs the line between accessible, professional and user-created content by introducing new tools and templates (e.g. video b-roll, 3D assets). There will be new opportunities for retail, marketing and sales. Once the meta wares reach a certain level and , the list is almost endless.

New opportunities bring new challenges

What we can definitely do is create new opportunities and new risks and challenges as well. For example, some have predicted the many social and moral challenges we face today with the Internet, and we can expect something similar but different when the Metaverse Revolution begins. With a particular focus on the business world, a number of challenges are immediately apparent:

Security and fraud: Meta wares, at least initially, are largely uncontrolled environments based on cryptocurrencies such as NFTs. There are great challenges in protecting intellectual property and preventing counterfeiting and other forms of criminal activity.

Enabling Interoperability and Accepted Criteria: One requirement for operating on Metaverse is that virtual assets purchased in one platform or in another may be used in another. It is not yet clear what kind of balance will be achieved in the interests of platform operators such as meta and business and private consumers, for whom interoperability, transparency and low cost are paramount.

Understanding User Behavior: It is easy to make hasty predictions that user behavior is not right in Metaverse. For example, we have already seen some examples of consumers paying mandatory premiums for virtual products based on artificial scarcity. It is a carryover from the physical world. But as the Metaverse become more settled, will such behaviors continue or will different forms of customer value emerge? For example, we already know that Millennials and Generation X have different values for baby boomers. How does this translate into business in Metaverse? Reaching and cultivating new talent: Metaveres encourages the emergence of new talent, for example in design and experience creation, which is key to commercial success. It is a democracy so it is difficult to control. Companies need to figure out how to win new 

Battle for Talent

Combination of physical and virtual assets: The new metaverse economy will not be 100% in the virtual world. Companies that can take advantage of both the physical and virtual worlds to cross-sell in both directions can be highly successful companies. This is somewhat similar to how companies like Amazon have achieved scale through a combination of digital and logistics knowledge and innovation.

Coping with Digital Native Vertical Brands (DNVB) [2]: For historic brands established today with physical products, one of the challenges is how to deal with the potential arrival of new DNVBs, which can quickly gain a grip on Metaverse and expand rapidly. . The physical world is disrupting established markets. For this reason, being able to move quickly when leaving Metaverse is very important for established brands.

Insights into the executive – what to do next

Metaverse is definitely the “taste of the month” right now. It is still difficult to predict with certainty whether this will lead to major disruption and exponential growth in the short term or whether we will be subject to extended illusions. However, the risk of slowing down from the mark that businesses need to take seriously is very real. For example, it’s a good idea for executives to start considering what metaverse mean for their business future:

New Products and Services: What are your company’s products or services or underlying capabilities and how did you perceive them, potential areas that could translate into new virtual products or services? Can new virtual offers be developed to help sell physical products and services?

New Business Models: Are there any opportunities for new or disrupted business models as a result of the emergence of Metaverse as a place to do business? For example, can you change your position in the value chain, change your relationships with partners, use assets differently, or adopt a new price or pricing pattern? What are the threats and opportunities for your current business?

New Applications and Consumer Context: In your own business activities, what elements can benefit from the virtualization opportunities offered by Metaverse? For example, global cooperation, training or problem solving?

Monitoring Development: Who is responsible for monitoring the developments around metaverse in your organization? Who can be potential partners and friends who can help you expand your capabilities?

So, will the new virtual world offer new physical business opportunities? The obvious answer is yes, and it can happen sooner than you expect. The opportunity is enormous – but there are also challenges. It became interesting who would stand as the winner.

[1] NFT: Non-Fungal Token, a form of unique digital property that cannot be duplicated, modified or deleted, and is immutably and indestructible registered on the blockchain.

[2] DNVB: The most customer-focused brand that launches online and controls the entire customer experience from factory to customer.

Metaverse - The future of the Internet

Written by Albert Maggie, Michael Papadopoulos and Rick Eager, the article was originally published by Arthur D. Published in Little Business Magazine Prism.

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