When it comes to "the metaverse," most business leaders would not consider themselves experts. In fact, some may wonder if the technology even matters to their companies. The simple answer is yes, it matters.
According to the U.S Security and Exchange Commission, the word metaverse appeared in regulatory filings over 1,100 times in the first six months of 2022. The previous year had 260 mentions, and the preceding two decades saw fewer than a dozen mentions. It increasingly feels like every business executive needs to talk about the metaverse and, of course, how the concept naturally fits the capabilities of their businesses better than their competitors.
Although the metaverse is still an evolving technology, it can revolutionize everything from eCommerce to social media and even real estate.
The global market for the metaverse is expected to grow from $100.27 billion in 2022 and hit $1,527.55 billion by 2029 at a CAGR of 47.6%. This dramatic growth is attributed to a rise in online video gaming adoption and the increasing consumer preference for eCommerce products.
This article aims to help you understand the metaverse along with its key business benefits.
What is the Metaverse?
Imagine a virtual world where people live, work, interact, and shop – all from the comfort of their couches. This is known as the metaverse.
Metaverse wasn't a household term until Facebook renamed its corporate name to Meta in October 2021. Now, the nebulous concept that inspired renaming has been a trending discussion topic.
The metaverse is a virtual environment that allows users to exist, interact and shop digital assets such as NFT (nonfungible token) wearables or digital houses and cars using 3d cyber-technology like Augmented Reality (AR)or Virtual Reality (VR) headsets coupled with other perceptive systems like haptic feedback devices.
The concept of 3D interaction between users and the virtual worlds has lingered for quite some time, and many thought it would never materialize. It has recently gained rapid traction due to the advancement and surge in digital technologies such as blockchain technology, ultra-low latency networking, and cloud computing. These technologies make the metaverse idea possible and develop a comprehensive metaverse meaning. For example, 5G communications allow low-latency remote communication between objects and humans in ways that defy space and time boundaries making it almost impossible for users to perceive distance.
What is the Difference Between the Metaverse and the Internet?
The internet, as it's known today, spans nearly millions of applications, thousands of networks, almost 2 billion websites, more than a hundred million servers, and tens of billions of devices. Once online, internet users can use these technologies to coherently and consistently communicate with each other, exchange information, view and interact with web pages, interconnect, share online account systems and files and even buy and sell goods and services. Almost 20% of the global economy is considered "digital," while much of the remaining 80% runs on it.
While the Internet is powerful, resilient, and wide-ranging, it wasn't designed for live and interactive experiences involving several participants, especially regarding 3D imaging. Instead, the internet was built primarily to enable the copying and sharing of a static file like a spreadsheet or email from one device to the next such that it might be asynchronously and independently reviewed or modified.
This is partly why a simple two-person video chat can be so unreliable even in multi-trillion dollar large tech companies. Surprisingly, online multiplayer video games work at all.
Furthermore, there is a lack of standard systems to share and exchange data in virtual worlds and no conventions or file formats for 3D information. There's also no computing power to handle the metaverse as it's imagined. Plus, there is a need for several new devices to pull it off —not just VR headsets but gadgets such as ultra-sonic force-field generators, holographic displays, etc.
We can't know in advance exactly how critical a 3D internet might be to the world economy, just like the value of the internet wasn't known. But there is some view to the answer.
The metaverse builds on the internet; it doesn't compete with it.
As computer processes and internet connectivity have improved, there has also been a shift from colorless text to primitive web blogs and web pages, then online profiles, as well as video-based social platforms, filters, and emojis. The volume of online content has risen from a few emails, message board posts, or blog updates per week to a consistent stream of multimedia content. This next evolution, the metaverse, enables users to traverse a virtual world that mimics aspects of the physical world and seems likely to turn out a persistent "living" virtual environment in which users also exist.
The internet allows people to "browse," but to a certain degree, users can "live" in the metaverse.
Features of the Metaverse
The working of the Metaverse concept is based upon these key features:
1. Incorporation of digital avatars
Digital avatars of oneself are created to express one's feelings and emotions and are uniquely one of the core Metaverse concepts. They are a unique way to express oneself because apart from precise reproductions of the person's actual form, they may also be recreations of favorite celebrities, real-life partners, or something original. Each user has their own digital identity, which can be animated or static and is distinctive.
2. Immersive Experiences (VR and AR)
In the Metaverse, participants will have more immersive experiences that converge the virtual world and reality by using mixed reality and VR/AR technologies. This will bring concerts, games, plays, and professional or educational encounters to life, making them seem more authentic through real-time interaction, the connectivity of actual and virtual worlds, and accurate 3D object rendering.
3. Intersecting with AI
Artificial intelligence supports corporate research in robotic interactions, content analysis, computer vision, self-supervised speech processing, and whole-body posture estimation, and it's key to the metaverse.
The metaverse business applications can be delivered through AI in numerous different ways. AIOps, AI's subfield, uses machine learning to help companies manage their IT infrastructure soon, which is soon to apply to metaverse systems. In addition, AI-based chatbots are increasingly becoming common among companies. In the metaverse, AI chatbots, along with avatars, can be used for various purposes, such as marketing, sales, and customer support.
4. Dependence on HCI (Human-Computer Interface) technology
Metaverse comprises several diverse devices, platforms, and individual users on a large scale. Using HCI to create the metaverse, specifically how to include users' activities in the virtual world, is vital to attaining this goal. HCI helps groups looking for information and formal training to connect with computing systems.
Decentralization is one of the top features of the metaverse with the integration of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and edge computing technologies. The vision of the metaverse is to create an open, shared digital world where users can move seamlessly from one platform to another. Decentralization allows users to seamlessly trade and exchange digital assets with economic value without centralized authorities. With the help of decentralization, users can have complete freedom to do anything in the metaverse ecosystem. Decentralization distinguishes the metaverse from the internet we have today.
There are several more metaverse features, and additional new ones will emerge. Multiple high-tech companies are focused on designing innovations and products for users to enjoy a newly built metaverse ecosystem in the near future.
What Metaverse Means for Your Business
From a business perspective, the metaverse promises to improve communication between businesses and people. Specifically, the metaverse will enable users to create their own digital avatars and explore various locations while interacting with other users. The ability to design an avatar will allow users to feel more immersed in their experience as if they were actually present rather than just watching from their screens, like a TV show or movie.
Furthermore, it opens opportunities for businesses because companies can now get in touch directly with customers using their avatars instead of depending on traditional marketing approaches such as TV commercials or print adverts.
The metaverse also aims to create a stunningly realistic 3D digital environment where you can, for instance, sell and purchase goods and services, recruit and train talent, sign and enforce contracts and interact with communities and consumers. As some technology experts imagine the metaverse, this virtual world won't basically run on platforms whose owners control data, transactions, and governance. Instead, consumers and businesses can take their currencies, identities, assets, and experiences anywhere they wish. Moreover, unlike today's web experiences, much of this world will persist even when no one exists in it.
With the metaverse, businesses could, for instance, put on a VR headset and visit a manufacturing factory on the other side of the globe. You'll shake hands with the local supervisor, see and touch the machines, and even inspect their operations without having to leave your desk. You could even visit the factory using one digital avatar while another version of yourself meets with the board of directors. Customers could move from one competing virtual car dealership to the next and even take test drives.
Imagine collaborating and completing physical tasks with an individual living across the country without having to physically meet face-to-face.
In general, below is how the metaverse will impact your business:
- Enhance shopping experience
- Accelerated manufacturing
- Introduce virtual products
- Gather new customer data
- Better engagement and enhanced marketing of physical and digital products and services
- Support metaverse earnings and payments
- Optimized training
- Improved remote work
- Offer applications and hardware that support metaverse activities
The opportunities and possibilities are endless regarding what businesses can do with metaverse beyond common examples, even though a true metaverse doesn't yet exist.
The Future of the Metaverse
Metaverse will continue to evolve into a remarkable technology and transform the way humans and businesses interact while at the same time enhancing efficiency across various sectors. Several blockchain-based metaverses are working on AR mobile app development and VR technologies to enable users to interact with the environment. Statista reports that the VR and AR market is expected to grow from $28 billion in 2021 to $250 billion by 2028. And apart from Facebook, another six of the largest brands —Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, and Tencent—have all invested time, money, and effort in anticipation of the metaverse industry's expansion.
McKinsey estimates that corporations, venture capitalists, and private equity companies made a total of $120 billion in metaverse-related investments within the first five months of 2022.
This is a clear indication that the full potential of the metaverse is yet to be unlocked in the next few years, along with multiple opportunities, especially for companies that are curious enough to explore the technology early.