Written by Dan Creasey, UK Marketing Manager for Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division
When Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s new focus on the metaverse at the end of 2021, it was met with mixed reviews. Of course, Meta (formerly Facebook) did not invent the metaverse, which has been discussed as a concept since 1992. But the campaign launched the metaverse as an opportunity for people and businesses alike, at a time when technology is advanced enough to support it.
The launch video showcased meetings held in virtual workplaces, friends working out together in a virtual garden, and the metaverse’s potential for e-commerce. Since then, an ambitious few across industries have already sought to leverage the novelty and possibility of the metaverse. These virtual experiences, alongside IoT, automation, and other smart technologies, together mark a new technological era.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a hazy concept. What is possible in our reality is, in theory, possible in virtual reality, bringing once location-locked experiences to anyone with AR goggles and combining the best of the physical and virtual worlds. With this promise, the metaverse offers the same exciting potential as the internet once did and is often dubbed Web 3.0.
In retail, Ralph Lauren, Samsung and even Walmart have spoken about launching metaverse stores, in which customers can interact with and try on clothes, with the choice to purchase their clothes physically, or digitally.
Similarly, trade shows and conferences like SXSW have started dabbling in virtual reality, allowing people to interact with stalls and presentations from the comfort of their own homes. In the midst of a pandemic, the metaverse holds a large amount of promise for events companies and industry conferences worldwide. For all we know, COP27 could even take place in the metaverse, trading air miles for AR and armchairs!
Outside of building consumer hype, however, the metaverse also offers real, practical applications. For emergency services workers, creating a virtual reality training environment could revolutionise training: more realistic than CPR dolls and role-play sessions, without risking real-world consequences. VR and AR has long played a role in military exercises to simulate combat environments, but in the metaverse, these exercises can incorporate troops from all over the world, allowing key allies to train simultaneously.
In construction, blueprints may well be paired with or even replaced by their metaverse counterpart. In the metaverse, a site plan becomes a metaphysical building, allowing architects and site managers to trial new structures, test against stressors like seismic shocks, and even allowing estate agents to tour and sell properties before they are fully built.
Fostering new collaborations
A key pioneer of the metaverse is the gaming industry, a fact which has led to some interesting collaborations. Last year, Gucci launched The Gucci Garden in the metaverse, built on Roblox, and rapper Travis Scott held a concert on Fortnite.
Although these collaborations mostly occur in the high-fashion or celebrity space for now, the game-based nature of the metaverse offers a young, engaged audience to any business that is brave enough to step into it. For many sectors, Web 3.0 is not just a means to make their work more accessible for professionals in that space but could prove to be a game-changer for recruitment and education. For industries that have already benefitted from IoT adoption and other smart solutions, such as manufacturing, supply chain & logistics, the metaverse presents a great opportunity to tap into the real, tangible benefits of virtual reality.