Ever since Facebook renamed itself to Meta, the word metaverse which was simmering within the silicon valley corridors is now resonating within corporations. In the last 2 weeks, on almost 3 different occasions, I got into conversations on what does Metaverse mean for businesses that aren't in the tech game.
Metaverse basically means a highly immersive, computer generated, 3D environment facilitating interactions that could potentially occur in a real environment.
The simplest way to think about Metaverse is a simple 3*3. You have three contexts (verticals) and three digital enablers (horizontals) that cut across the contexts. Let's unwrap this!
The three contexts (verticals) are:
- Consumer Metaverse: It refers to everything Facebook is doing, Snapchat is doing, and Apple is building. You can think of this as your ability to simply point your camera at a physical thing and get digitally-generated information about it or think of your Avatar interacting with others who are your friends.
- Industrial Metaverse: It refers to everything that can occur within a manufacturing plant. Think of this as the ability to run a digital twin of your manufacturing equipments and understand the ability to do condition based maintenance remotely or being able to look at specific part and get all of its details digitally delivered to you.
- Enterprise Metaverse: It refers to everything that can occur across an enterprise. Think about the ability to connect the entire company into a digital thread and operate it virtually at scale and simulate the future. That would be absolutely powerful and bonkers.
The three digital enablers (horizontals) are:
- Augmented Reality (AR): Think of this as your ability to point a device (such as your phone) over a physical object and view details about it. The most known example of this is the Pokemon game from Niantic that brought every one to the street to explore and find those by various physical locations. This is consumer metaverse 101 in action. In an industrial metaverse, this could be remote diagnosing and solving the problems.
- Virtual Reality (VR): Think of this as your ability to simulate the entire experience virtually. In a consumer world, it is everything you see Facebook (oops now Meta) working on. Think of this as your 3D generated avatar in a computer generated environment interacting & doing things with others. In an industrial metaverse, think of this as a digital twin of an equipment that can simulate various scenarios and predict maintenance requirements.
- Web3 Tech: Think of this as your ability to transact such as store information, conduct commerce, and so on. This is where technologies like Blockchain and Cryptocurrency come into play. Almost every actor in the AR/VR world write commonly agreed datasets into a registry that is distributed across multiple computers with complex algorithms. In another circumstance, people may buy things using cryptocurrency such as bitcoin.
The matrix below will help you understand the concepts in a simple way:
Not to stereotype anything, the entry point into Metaverse will actually vary by age demographic. The folks like myself who grew up in the Web 2 era, will see AR and Web3 Tech like crypto as the entry point. The current generation which is getting influenced by Roblox, Minecraft, and such experiences will enter the environment via VR and will hopefully get to seamlessly transfer between real world, augmented world, and virtual world.
The underlying enablement of all these technologies require new tech devices, computing environments, regulations/policies, commonly agreeable use cases, and most importantly end-user adoption.
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