Whether it is healthcare, retail, social media or the workplace, the metaverse has the potential to change lives.
According to a study published by Research and Markets, the global metaverse market is expected to reach a revenue of US$700bn by 2030. With the increase in popularity of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, the metaverse is gaining momentum, enabling users to go about a normal conversation as an avatar in a ‘different world’
But according to a report by the World Economic Forum, the true benefits of the metaverse do not come from the creation of new digital worlds. They come through the integration of physical and digital worlds.
In a report, ‘3 shared principles to maximize the value of the metaverse’, AR technology company Magic Leap’s CEO Peggy Johnson explains how the metaverse could have transformative implications and create a ‘two-way bridge of spatially aware information.’
Powering the metaverse: AR for the ‘real world’
The move to the metaverse will require enormously sophisticated future technologies. According to Intel, to power the metaverse for hundreds of millions of users simultaneously, the world’s current computing, storage and networking infrastructure is ‘simply not enough’.
“We need several orders of magnitude more powerful computing capability, accessible at much lower latencies across a multitude of device form factors,” Intel says. “To enable these capabilities at scale, the entire plumbing of the internet will need major upgrades.”
According to Johnson, a key to the success of the metaverse includes integrating the physical and the digital, with AR representing a better fit ‘for the real world’.
“Platforms for the metaverse typically either use AR or VR,” she writes. “VR has come to life over the past decade through gaming, esports, and entertainment, with fully virtual avatars and environments. On the other hand, AR is a better fit for work in the real world.
“While there’s room for both in the growing metaverse market, AR ultimately has the greatest potential. With AR, you can still interact with the objects, tools, environments, and people around you – making adoption easier, providing greater value to existing activities and speeding the path to ROI. Plus, this paradigm feels more natural and intuitive, since human evolution has equipped us to interact this way.”
Build an open, interoperable metaverse ecosystem
As these technologies and applications emerge, industry players must choose the best model for bringing them to market: an open ecosystem or a walled garden, Johnson adds.
“Building a metaverse for everyone will require an industry-wide focus on common standards,” said Vishal Shah, Vice President of Metaverse at Meta. “The Metaverse Standards Forum can drive the collaboration that’s needed to make this possible, and Meta is committed to this work. Creators, developers and companies will all benefit from the technologies and experiences that will be made possible by common protocols.”
“Open standards enable developers, hardware manufacturers, MDMs and other partners to work in concert – accelerating adoption, fuelling innovation and letting users decide the best idea,” added Johnson. “While a walled garden may fit certain use cases, communities or business models, these will serve best as “islands” within the wider ecosystem.”
Unleashing enterprises as first movers in the metaverse
Companies have already begun to adopt the metaverse, with Microsoft and Samsung owning 158 and 122 patents on the metaverse respectively. As Johnson describes, enterprises are primed to pioneer advances in the metaverse, just as they did for mainframe computing.
“AR is an ideal fit for essential, high-value work in real-world scenarios,” she writes. “These deployments justify the needed investment and unlock the greatest value – not just for companies and professionals, but for society through employment and inclusive growth.
“We’re seeing advanced AR applications emerge here first, from surgeons planning complex procedures, to manufacturing technicians using remote expert assistance, to first responders training for crisis scenarios. These are some of the initial use cases that most clearly benefit from integrating the digital and physical – but there are many more. Enterprises are leading the way because they understand the case for productivity, competitive advantage and value to their customers.”