It has been a little over a year since Mark Zuckerberg decoupled Facebook Inc’s corporate identity and re-christened it to Meta. A few months later, he introduced ‘Metaverse’ – and just like that, in the blink of an eye the internet was flooded with articles, posts, use cases, case studies, advantages, disadvantages, pros & cons, “to-have” or “not-to-have” debates (and so much more) on Metaverse!
But have we thought in-depth into what Metaverse really is? What kind of monetary and technology investment does Metaverse require? Do we have enough technologists to make this dream a reality? Will societies completely move online? Does it impact the health of the planet? How would businesses benefit and thrive?
We have more questions than answers, but the basic fact stands tall – the concept of Metaverse will soon evolve to become a reality and involve physical and digital encounters through a connected online user.
The techno-cultural convergence
Metaverse will not just be a convergence of our digital lifestyles with our physical lives but a confluence of varied technologies. It is important to note here that almost all cutting-edge latest technologies that will culminate to give birth to the concept of Metaverse have been evolving for the past few decades.
Conceptually, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been in existence since the 1960s, Augmented Reality (AR) has been doing the rounds since the early ‘90s, while Virtual Reality (VR) & Extended Reality (XR) have been in discussion since the 1930s. The term itself was coined in the ‘80s. By the dawn of the 21st century, Digital Twinning came into existence and exploration started with aeronautical industries. 3D Modelling outdates all other technologies, thanks to the Gaming industry.
Some of the foundation technologies behind Metaverse are already in vogue. The emerging technology of blockchain and related avatar is one such crucial component. Similarly, 5G is critical for the Metaverse to realize its full power across an eclectic mix of use cases: from powering immersive gaming experiences, creating new age digital platforms to advancements in critical healthcare and manufacturing. Along with 5G, Edge Computing – namely the computation of data storage near a particular data source – can significantly reduce latency and improve reliability and overall user experience. The Metaverse will also come as a blessing for cloud service providers given the immense amount of data storage and processing that is needed to sustain the virtual world. 5G, Cloud and The Edge are thus not just building blocks but the keys to the future success of the Metaverse in helping define the next stage of human culture as we transition from an age of information to an era of experiences.
The Future is Meta
For engineering services companies, Metaverse is expected to open up hitherto untapped revenue streams. It has the potential to transform the business landscape into a realm where the physical and digital coexist and often merge into a seamless whole. 5G, AI, Blockchain and Nonfungible Tokens (NFTs), along with a host of emergent technologies like AR/VR and IoT will of course play a critical role in constructing this new reality. The “power of simulation” will guide enterprises in the ER&D Services segment by helping organizations monitor plants, factories and complex systems with the help of data engineering and digital twins, in the process generating higher returns on investment.
The possibilities are indeed huge. According to Statista, the global Metaverse market is expected to soar to $678.8 billion by 2030, thanks to the rise in live entertainment and other digital experiences capitalizing on Metaverse opportunity.
Currently though, the concept of Metaverse is akin to the parable of “The Blind Men and an Elephant”. Despite the buzz, once we start living the digital reality, we will realize that the elephant has many more parts to it and will take years for us to uncover all its aspects. The early signs show that Metaverse will be a big game changer for everyone- both businesses and people at large- but in the long-run, affordability, applicability, and approachability will be the key deciding factors for its success.
The article has been written by Gayathri Devi Jayan, Global Head – Metaverse, L&T Technology Services (LTTS)