What is the metaverse and how are businesses benefiting from it?
Metaverse, a combination of “meta,” meaning beyond, and “universe,” is a term coined by Neal Stephenson, a science fiction writer, in his 1992 novel Snow accident. Today the term has much more than romantic appeal.
The metaverse refers to highly interactive virtual worlds – where lands, buildings, and even custom avatars can be traded – often using cryptocurrency. In the virtual environments of the Metaverse, people can explore various locations, form friendships, create virtual assets, purchase goods and services, and attend virtual events.
The concept of the metaverse has grabbed the popular imagination, especially during the recent pandemic, as lockdowns and remote work policies have forced more people to explore virtual worlds online for business and entertainment.
How does the metaverse work?
Since time immemorial, humans have developed various technologies to derive interactive communication and entertainment by fooling our senses. Televisions, speakers with recent technological developments like interactive video games, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have served this purpose very well. In the future, we might also develop some very advanced technological tools to trick our other senses, such as smell or touch.
The Metaverse is the recent technological advance towards this futuristic goal. Powered by blockchain technology, metaverse platforms allow users to create, own and trade decentralized digital assets using cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In simpler terms, the metaverse helps connect our physical world to our fabricated extensions of reality, i.e. the virtual world.
The concept of metaverse could very well organize our societies or trigger new political and cultural changes. These are part of shared standards and protocols that bring a different experience of the virtual world and augmented realities into an open metaverse. It could help people interact, collaborate and reduce duplication of assets and skills.
In addition, the metaverse is also an experiment to find ways to solve various societal issues and improve business productivity by mixing smartphones, 5G networks, augmented reality, virtual reality, cryptocurrencies and social media platforms.
The metaverse and companies
The rise of the metaverse is inevitable. Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are determined to embrace the metaverse well ahead of their competition. Without a doubt, the metaverse has the potential to shape our society, politics and culture. It also opens up new markets, innovative social networks, advanced gadgets, new patterns of consumer behavior and new patents.
The corporate arena is quickly becoming the key frontier for the Metaverse. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a global accounting and consulting giant, predicts that virtual reality and augmented reality technologies will provide a $ 1.5 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030, up from 46, $ 5 billion in 2019.
BMW, a German multinational luxury automaker, has partnered with Nvidia to build a virtual factory as a digital twin – a virtual representation of a physical asset, system or process – using Omniverse, Nvidia’s metaverse platform. Microsoft also created its “Enterprise Metaverse” with Mesh, a cloud-based collaborative meeting application that can digitally teleport a person to a remote location for highly interactive virtual experiences.
Read also : NVIDIA Omniverse Emphasizes Value of Strategic Vision
The advantages of the metaverse
Most metaverse platforms run on blockchain technology – a decentralized database shared over a network of computers. Once a recording has been created and added to the channel, it is very difficult to edit or alter it. The network performs constant checks to ensure the authenticity of the data created in the database chain. Blockchain technology allows cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to buy and trade virtual assets in the metaverse.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a new virtual asset representing digital elements such as images, videos or game properties belonging to users registered on the blockchain. It allows NFTs to be collected and traded as digital assets with intrinsic value. Some value its cultural significance, while others see them as speculative financial instruments. The metaverse fueled the growth and acceptance of NFTs on a larger scale. During the pandemic, the first half of 2021, the NFT market saw huge sales worth $ 2.5 billion. Whereas a year ago, NFT’s sales were only $ 13.7 million.
These statistics underscore global confidence in blockchain technology and optimism about the future growth of the metaverse. Blockchain-based platforms and currencies provide greater transparency and credibility in interpersonal and business transactions.
Read also : The Metaverse: Catching the Next Internet-Like Wave
Risks associated with metaverse
As the metaverse offers a wide array of business opportunities in the post-pandemic world, the same old cybersecurity risks accompany it. The metaverse is a technology still in its infancy. The unpredictability that comes with it also adds to the risks associated with it.
There is a greater possibility that the tech behemoths are fighting for market dominance, which increases competition in the market. Ultimately, market laggards follow the progress of market leaders to generate their potential income and improve their business operations. But, more than anything else, even beyond business adoption and competition, the metaverse is powerful enough to transform the way people play, shop, interact with and access media.
All of these possibilities underscore the importance of advanced cybersecurity and data privacy measures that must be implemented by metaverse developers. Up-to-date monitoring of advanced cyber attack threats and protection of highly sensitive private data such as biometrics can take a step ahead of traditional cybersecurity measures.
The future of the corporate metaverse
Since the Metaverse is the combination of the physical and virtual worlds, consumer behavior and purchasing preferences could be totally different in the Metaverse than in real life. All of these drastic changes in purchasing preferences, patterns of consumer behavior and ever-changing market conditions are breaking the foundations of traditional business models in the coming days.
In the new world of business where artificial intelligence and data science metrics determine the rate of productivity and profits; virtual assistants own the relationships with clients, traditional “comfort zones” are turning into “danger zones” for most businesses around the world.
The metaverse ecosystem also requires companies to regularly change their digital marketing strategies and conduct in-depth market research. It helps businesses learn more about the ever-changing behavior of new consumers and surf safely in unpredictable market conditions.
To this day, it is unclear how far the Metaverse, which completely simulates real life, is possible or how long it would take to develop. Many blockchain-based metaverse platforms are still developing AR and VR technologies that will allow users to actively interact in the virtual space.
Arguably, Metaverse – by moving most aspects of our lives onto a virtual universal platform – will extend traditional cybersecurity issues to a deeper level. Undoubtedly, the Metaverse allows us to overcome the constraints of the physical world, but in the process, only replaces it with constraints that the Metaverse itself imposes.
Read more : Can immersive technology redo the experience in the workplace?