For Meta or Worse
Exploring the rising popularity and use of the Metaverse across industries
To most of us, any technological development can seem scary at first, especially when we don’t know the ins and outs of it. Luckily there are a multitude of reports out there that have simplified just how the Metaverse will become the next big thing.
One key player within the rise of the Metaverse is Facebook, or its more relevant name Meta. This recent rebrand announcement also came with the company planning to enrol around 10,000 professionals to contribute to the development of the Metaverse, proving that the concept is hurtling towards mainstream business at an ever-increasing speed.
Whilst social media has begun taking the Metaverse in its stride, numerous other services and industries are demonstrating just how beneficial the Metaverse can and will become. As of today, the increasing focus is on converging digital and physical worlds and increasing the demand for purchasing digital assets which is being piloted by the rising use of cryptocurrencies.
These combinations stand to create various potential functions, for example as a meeting place or a marketplace that is without boundaries; but for now it's seen as more of a disjointed collection of strange new worlds interacting with others in the same virtual space.
However, many do not see it as a single entity or even a standard type of virtual experience just yet. Rather, it encompasses a collection of spaces on different platforms with each operating in its own unique way.
So whilst it may seem the Metaverse is far from its peak potential, its economic impact certainly tells a different story. 2020 saw a revenue of $478.7 billion which is quite impressive and what’s more is that this number is only to increase to $783 billion in 2024 according to Bloomberg Intelligence. On the most established metaverse platforms, the largest purchases are virtual real estate. MetaMetric Solutions said sales hit $501 million in 2021 and exceeded $85 million in January 2021 alone.
A closer look at the industries
So let's dive into the deep plethora of industries that have taken the Metaverse into their stride:
Gaming platforms like Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox have been popular for years, especially among teens and young adults and it is through such platforms that the Metaverse is truly taking off within the ‘worlds’ of gaming.
The global video game market really took off in 2020 when it topped $155 billion, according to Statista and what’s more, the number of players grew from 944 million in 2019 to more than 1.2 billion in 2020, whilst existing players increased the amount of time spent on games by 39%.
It’s worth noting that these gaming platforms are also being used by the various industries trying to get their ‘virtual’ foot in the door to the Metaverse…
Fashion & Arts
Among those buying virtual real estate is the elite, British jewellery brand Sotheby’s. In 2021, it launched its first virtual art gallery that looks identical to their one in London. This virtual gallery is devoted to selling high-end NFTs.. yes you definitely read that right.
Sotheby’s opted to locate its virtual art gallery in a section of the metaverse called "Decentrarland," which is described as “ the first-ever virtual world owned by users.” However, other brands are setting up their versions on gaming platforms like Roblox, which already draw in hundreds of tens of millions of players and developers alike.
Similarly to Sotheby’s, Patrice Louvet, Ralph Lauren’s CEO, announced a statement at the 2022 National Retail Federation conference, he states that the Metaverse is “a fantastic opportunity to interact with younger consumers, to create experiences.”
Entertainment - Socialising & Events
Alongside the Arts and Fashion worlds, there has also been extensive prepping and planning into the events industry. The case for live concerts especially during pandemic meant being forced to either cancel or find an alternative venue and graciously the Metaverse has allowed for events to render a stage within the virtual world for performances.
The platform of choice for such large scale live events is Fortnite. Millions could attend these concerts, which points to one advantage virtual live events have over physical one: no space limitations.
Another is the possibility for far more elaborate effects and expansive staging, such as the Fortnite Travis Scott concert The Verge. While live concerts do involve special effects, they still aren’t on par with the Metaverse ones as they “don’t let you float through the air while a Godzilla-sized rapper walks across an ocean.”
Manufacturing & Vehicles
Other industries have also tapped into the marketing power of offering immersive experiences on Roblox. For example, Hyundai used it to offer people the chance to have their avatars test-drive Hyundai cars and operate robotic vehicles in the Hyundai Mobility Adventure
Mechanical Engineer Tolga Kurtoglu is the CTO at HP Inc., and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying he anticipated that next-generation tools enabled by the Metaverse will significantly accelerate the product-development cycles.
Kurtoglu also offered an example of running tests on virtual vehicles instead of driving real cars into walls with crash dummies as well as discussing uses and the potential future of the supply chain. Whereby he states:
"Virtual-reality and augmented-reality technology will become more sophisticated…new hires will learn how to operate complex machinery; at warehouses they’ll get trained on how to pack boxes; and at retail stores they’ll get to know every product and where each belongs…all in virtual replicas of those places."
Office Working Conditions
Similarly to the modernising of the manufacturing and warehouse onboarding process, we could see remote working to become more advanced. For example, people working online no matter their location can even meet their colleagues that live across the globe. Better yet, we have already started implementing this within our own company as shown in the screenshot below; every Friday we gather within our virtual meeting rooms and discuss the past week's events and even when our teams are all across the globe, we can basically be in the same room together.
Shopping - ecommerce
There are also hints that the future of commerce will change with the Metaverse. It will enhance our enjoyment of online shopping and using e-commerce sites. Where we currently despise the so-called ‘helpful’ bots, they could potentially enhance our decision-making, resolve any doubts/conflicts, confirm shipping and perform other tedious admin tasks. Whilst these are not to replace human labour, but rather to make it more efficient by offloading boring tasks.
Implementing augmented reality in the healthcare sector can help train and skill-strengthen future medical professionals. Furthermore, surgical tools and technology like the Microsoft Hololens can help doctors greatly increase the time it takes to carry out surgical procedures.
Another industry application is through Military use. Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR) functions much like night-vision goggles (NVGs) but with more features. It can show a soldier’s accurate location and the positions of ally and hostile forces. Plus these devices are attached to helmets in the same way as NVGs; and they can be used any time of day or night making them a smart alternative to standard handheld GPS gadgets and eyewear.
So whilst the Metaverse would be able to perform almost anything they do in reality, right now we can only hypothesise the ways in which we can implement it so that it will become an intrinsic part of our lives.
Finally, as the big tech companies try to build this virtual reality platform in a more secure way, it isn't quite here yet - only time will tell what this new frontier will usher in.