What exactly is the Metaverse? It’s a blurring of the lines between the physical and digital worlds. The Metaverse is being composed from the ground up, allowing creators of the Metaverse to reimagine end-to-end shared experiences from a technical and user-first standpoint.
4 Cool Uses for the Metaverse
Immersive meetings in which people can interact much like they do in real life
Meta-vacations to exotic or fictional locations
Exploratory surgery via a simulation of internal organs; no cutting required
Fully robotic factories
It’s a simulated virtual environment that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), machine learning (ML), blockchain and other technologies, pulling from the constructs of social media, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce to create virtual communities.
Capabilities of the Metaverse
The Metaverse is a voyage that’s never really complete. We already see the beginnings of the Metaverse today in VR gaming worlds and in AR applications for manufacturing, retailers, medicine and forensics (in the recreation of crime scenes). Today, most of these virtual applications function in 2D because of the current hardware and software limitations, but it won’t be long before 3D becomes ubiquitous. As such, the Metaverse constantly evolves, much like the internet and web of today.
We’ve all likely joined virtual meetings to connect with others on our mobile devices or desktop computers. These, in the beginning, were somewhat one-dimensional gatherings with little sense of all the textures of humanity. Virtual meeting applications attempt to present information in a logical order, given the limitations of space on the screen and bandwidth. But attending one can still be fatiguing because participants are staring at a screen and are not entirely socializing with people.
Imagine that you are now in a more inviting meeting room, full of people interacting, more akin to what occurs in physical life. You can see everyone at the same time, perhaps seated around a floating table or in lounge chairs surrounding a pool. People have the option to be presented in full 3D, and you can hear them speak, watch them react, and eventually shake hands with them. Yet this meeting occurs entirely in a virtual world.
Speculatively speaking, you could purchase meta-vacations to exotic locations by taking advantage of the Metaverse. You might choose to travel to India and climb the Himalayas through a riveting experience, ride a surfboard in Hawaii or climb to the top of one of the pyramids in Egypt. Or, if you prefer, you could visit the fictional Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs, go on a flight with space aliens from Starship Troopers or sit beside Neil Armstrong as he lands on the moon. All without leaving the comfort of your home.
But the possibilities go beyond mere vacations, advanced conferencing and gaming. The Metaverse will assist doctors in performing complex surgeries from a viewpoint within their patients’ bodies. Robotic microsurgery supported by the sensory perceptions of the Metaverse will unleash medical discoveries, leading to much more precise diagnoses and cures. Exploratory surgery, for instance, won’t consist of randomly cutting away the tissues of a person’s body and peering about inside. Instead, your doctor can move through a simulation of your organs, checking each for anything that needs to be corrected.
The prospects for manufacturing are as transformative. Imagine fully robotic factories building complex machinery. Sensors, all part of the Internet of Things (IoT), are strategically placed around the factory floor, allowing technicians to inspect each robot and machine in the factory. Or, alternately, imagine an airplane with engine trouble. Remote sensors, also part of the IoT, will allow air traffic controllers to see and feel what the pilots and passengers experience in real time — or later when investigating a crash or accident.
Augmented reality (AR) delivers yet another glimpse of what is yet to come for the Metaverse. Imagine walking down a street in Paris and seeing small pop-up messages over local landmarks as you pass. Each display will provides you with personalized and contextual information about each landmark. Next, you stop at a shop and view the clothing in the window. You see a shirt you like, and by using a simple voice command, a mirror shows you wearing that shirt. This is the mixed-reality world of AR, where virtual images are superimposed and mapped over the top of the actual world.
If you’ve played Pokémon or accessed an app on your smartphone to preview furniture in your home before you’ve made a purchase, you used the early precursors of AR. In many warehouses, workers wear AR goggles. They see digital arrows on the floor leading to products and a digital interface appears over the shipping crates with information about their contents. (For a good representation of AR’s potential, watch the movie Anon.)
You might reason these concepts stem from a science-fiction novel or movie. These examples are not flights of fantasy; they are extrapolations of the potential of the Metaverse. The Metaverse is becoming a reality using advanced technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT). Investments from businesses like Adobe and Microsoft are accelerating such advancements.
Excerpted with permission from Decoding the Metaverse: Expand Your Business Using Web3, by Chris Duffey. To be published Feb. 28, 2023 by Kogan Page.