By Vijeth Shivappa
The Digital technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), VR, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, etc. has made it possible to convert a fascinating concept straight from a science fiction novel “Snow Crash”, written in 1992 into a reality , “The Metaverse” .The Metaverse was on the spotlight in SNIA Software developers Conference 2022 and became a topic of keen interest for the “Bird of Feather” pannel discussion , in which I happened to attend as one of the panelist.
The metaverse, emerged as a major tech trend of digital transformation initiatives, which is poised to elevate the digital experience to a all new level. An immersive 3D digital experience that combines multiple virtual and physical worlds. Well, this is exactly what the metaverse promises. Metaverse is being considered as the next iteration of the internet and will enable users to meet, socialize, play games, and work with other users within 3D spaces
Functioning as a fun location in which to launch team building activities,Virtual gaming and discussions can take place within the metaverse, making it easier than ever to collaborate among globally distributed teams.
Metaverse can be leveraged by businesses for immersive interactions with digital “avatar” of their customers for business purposes, like sales, delivering customer services, and many others including employee onboarding. Users can also utilize a metaverse for creating, sharing, and trading assets like real estate. A user taking a virtual tour within a metaverse, can now virtually visit a store and can do shopping with an immersive experience, place the order in the virtual shop & the product will be delivered to their address . Other use case of metaverse include participation in virtual social events, purchasing digital land and building virtual houses, joining fellow viewers of a virtual rock band concert, paying visits to virtual museums to see the works of art, and participating in immersive learning through virtual classrooms, etc. A VR-based metaverse will play a pivotal role in revolutionizing the healthcare industry with further technological advancements. Given that the Internet of Things is gaining momentum, it would be interesting to witness more discoveries in the healthcare sector.
Today on-line networked gaming industry is using Metaverse to provide an immersive experience to their subscribers. Decentraland, a start-up, has created a virtual world for their users . This virtual world has its own economy as well as currency.The video game Roblox also provides non-gaming services like virtual meetups and concerts. Meta ( Facebook ) is working on creating a social platform powered by Virtual Reality.Another startup SecondLive provides a virtual 3D ecosystem that is used by its subscribers for learning, socializing and doing on-line commerce . Their Metaverse platform also provides an NFT ( Non fungible Tokens ) marketplace where collectibles can be swapped.
The metaverse will transform social media platforms and virtual gaming. The metaverses will become more multi-dimensional due to the usage of VR glasses and headsets.In the future, the multiple metaverse platforms will be interoperable & inter-connect all isolated immersive virtual ecosystems. For example, a user working in a virtual office can conduct a Mixed Reality meeting using an Oculus VR headset and can indulge in a blockchain-powered game after work or during break.Think virtual meetings where you can feel as though you’re “in the room” with colleagues.
Technical Council members of SNIA India in the panel discussion “Birds of feather” discussed certain challenges ahead for the metaverse from the regulatory compliance perspective. I outlined 2 major challenges ,” Privacy & Security” of users and businesses . It is very important to authenticate the identity of individuals who are moving around the virtual world as digital avatars to prevent identity theft . There are chances that unscrupulous persons or even bots can explore the metaverse under the disguise of an individual, and scam other users or damage the reputation of business brands. The usage of AR and VR with the camera on can lead to data breaches of personal information. I have suggested the industry to take adequate care in the design principles of the platform itself to make Metaverse a safer place & adhere to personal data protection laws of the land.
The metaverse has an immense potential to transform the AR/VR experience completely. Several Big Tech players including Facebook, Apple, Google , Amazon, Alibaba, etc are investing heavily in this to make it a big success in the near future.The multiple Metaverse platforms will eventually become interoperable and collaborate with co-creators to develop new business models.
– All views expressed are personal.