Popular culture has always been a barometer for new ideas and innovations. The 1989 Hollywood flick Back to the Future Part II featured several futuristic gadgets, including smart home technology and fingerprint scanning. And characters in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 movie Ready Player One use a VR simulation to escape the harsh reality of the world, a precursor to the metaverse.
We have travelled a long way since the term Virtual Reality was first used in the mid-1980s by Jaron Lanier, founder of VPL (Virtual Programming Languages) Research, when he was developing the gear to experience what he called “virtual reality.” Today, great possibilities lie ahead for creators, visualizers, and artists to create various expressions of virtual spaces.
Welcome to the age of the Metaverse!
Though the term “Metaverse” came into significance recently, it’s been around for a while. In 1992, sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson coined the term to describe a 3D virtual space in his book Snow Crash. The future Metaverse could well be the “real” progenitor of the “virtual” multimedia platform Second Life, where people create their own avatars in an online virtual world – becoming part of virtual communities and conducting transactions such as exchange of goods and services.
For now, experimentations in the metaverse are happening in smaller environments. The technological world is pushing its boundaries to make the transition to the Metaverse easy, scalable, and secure. Infra behind today’s Metaverse is being created by private tech giants like Microsoft, META, Apple, Nvidia, Unity, and Amazon, and significant new players are sure to emerge as the technology matures.
A McKinsey study estimated that $120 billion has been invested in metaverse-related technology in early 2022. It further estimates the market impact of metaverse in e-commerce to be between $2 trillion and $2.6 trillion by 2030, along with significant impact on sectors such as virtual learning, advertising, and gaming industries.
Metaverse is bound to change the way social interactions as well as business, medical, and retail industries work. In Life Sciences, we see a vast array of initiatives, many having taken root during the pandemic. From virtual support groups to virtual psychotherapy, virtual surgical planning to preventative lifestyle medication advice, virtual clinics and hospitals, the possibilities are endless.
Businesses will have unlimited opportunities to innovate and monetize in Metaverse markets. Blockchain technology is likely to be the primary enabler of Trust and Traceability in the metaverse, making users traverse seamlessly, own, and transact virtually as in the real world. The potential of a parallel universe has transcended digital banking and evolved into decentralized financial markets, with many variants of crypto currency being launched, attracting more and more eager players.
We can foresee immersive entertainment experiences, drawing young consumers beyond just next-level gaming universes. And talking of VR, virtual concerts today have become a part of music industry business, engaging a geographically dispersed fanbase. For instance, Fortnite, which started as a game, is now a virtual venue for people to hang out, with its in-game concerts hosting artists such as Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and Marshmello.
Education in the metaverse could be re-defined; E-learning may be catapulted to a whole new level, with organizations harnessing it to provide enhanced and effective learning experiences to employees. Meetings of the future could be in 3D environments with digital avatars, with wearables to translate and project physical expressions into the virtual immersive world.
Present-day challenges to wide proliferation of this technology lies in the interoperability of computing, networking, device intelligence, AI, virtual environments, and other connected technologies requiring technological amalgamation. But we believe things should fall in place as wearables become more intuitive and comfortable, and mass adoption appears inevitable.
The Future of Metaverse
Clearly, Metaverse is going to change our lives. From our everyday social interactions to our daily work-life, things are progressing into a more futuristic world. It is important to identify and leverage opportunities in this new world – where unforeseen innovations will sprout in different dimensions, and quick adaptation to the everchanging environment will be key to growth and sustenance.
The new pace and ease of interactions will bring about a cultural change, which in turn will drive new demands that businesses will translate into opportunities and lay down the foundations for further expansion. Metaverse provides companies an opportunity to further their digitization agenda.
Business and IT leaders will need to collaborate to assess the metaverse risks and the technology and security challenges posed by it. Regulated transaction platforms, similar to KYC and ALM today, will become unifying financial components offering security to consumers. But with Metaverse maturing, a lot of the current bottlenecks will be ironed out.
The future is bright, magical, and as they say in spirituality – a mere illusion!
The article has been written by Nisheeth Srivastava, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer – India, Capgemini