Picture a world where you could actually have coffee with friends at Starbucks in New York, take meeting notes in the office, or teleport to Paris for a date whilst doing all these on your comfy couch at home. Take another look at a virtual world where you could have a beachside interaction with friends and family, where you can live among billions of people, work or shop all without taking a step outside your room.
Nowadays, the internet in the phone and computer screens become portals to a 3D virtual world like real life where people can interact, build social networks, and do business through our ‘Avatars’ which are digital facsimiles of ourselves. The avatars representing us in the virtual world can move freely from one experience to another and take our money with us too.
These scenarios offer a glimpse of the possible future predicted by the metaverse. The Metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992 while he tried to describe a future world of virtual reality.
So What is Metaverse Exactly?
Metaverse is well understood as the inevitable evolution of the internet. It is a vision of the next iteration of the internet in the digital world – a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space where users experience life in ways they could not in the physical world.
The term metaverse is not new but has been conceptualized in the works of Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel called Snow Crash. Although the idea of Metaverse was once fiction and still does not exist yet, at present it looks like it could be a reality anytime soon. It would connect multiple platforms, similar to the internet containing different websites accessible through a single browser.
Augmented Reality is the main drive to forming a metaverse wherein a user can control a character or avatar, a self-identity to use in the virtual world. You can already recall some aspects of the metaverse in video games such as Fortnite and Second Life.
Metaverse – An Emerging Opportunities For Businesses
Many enterprises have a lot of reasons to implement metaverse and involve it in their business. It is to put to light that the metaverse is the future of how we will communicate with anything. That our digital identities will come to exist. While a lot is still unclear about how the technology will evolve, the good thing is that in the metaverse, there are no limits to what your brand could achieve. All you need is to define the right strategy.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how businesses in different industries can take advantage of the metaverse to create some truly unique experiences.
There are ways brands can utilize the metaverse in many ways like any other social platform to advertise and market themselves. Native in-game advertising, selling virtual goods for consumers’ avatars to use, offering limited edition digital collectibles, creating virtual venues, and hosting virtual events are a few instances. There are already events where big brands replicate virtual reality in the metaverse and such instances prompt a lot of opportunities to await marketers who are willing to take risks and bet big on the metaverse.
Metaverse in the e-commerce industry can be manifested in using digital products, such as clothing that can be designed to move in augmented reality (AR) or which is designed for avatars to wear in virtual reality (VR). Here, consumers get the chance to express themselves while significantly lowering the impact on the environment through this experience. MR or Mixed Reality as it seemed demonstrated can help reduce the number of tangible products that are produced and then thrown away. To boost sales, they can also harness these digital experiences.
Brands such as Gucci and the North Face have already attained the Direct-to-Avatar (D2A) fashion collections in the market. Meanwhile, brands like Adidas, Zara, and others too are following the same track to virtualize their collections. The emerging trend of VR headsets may lead to brands offering their own personal shopping experiences for users in virtual reality in the near future. It seems that the metaverse will become the biggest digital or rather a virtual showroom ever.
Travelers through AR and VR can experience a destination in a totally different way. Guests can experience a location, a hotel or anywhere before physically reaching it through virtual tours and itineraries. AR meanwhile creates an immersive experience of the museum or any place offering a unique experience for guests, a more personal touch.
The manufacturing system and machinery that are complex to build and difficult to assemble need AR and VR Technology. With the help of AR, a task and its instructions can be communicated in a step-by-step manner. This not only helps reduce human errors in ongoing processes of tasks but also gives a lower cost for production. It can enhance productivity and visibility for stakeholders and reduce risk.
The recent Pandemic of Covid-19 led to the hype of online classes and encouraged blended education models among the student and learner communities. However, the downfall is that the lectures, the practical elements of teaching as in lab experiments, or the hands-on teaching components cannot be effectively delivered. Hence, AR, VR, and other multiverse technologies can help students participate in science experiments, build and test prototypes, and more. Students can also experience gamified learning and immersive learning through virtual spaces and 3D simulations.
Banking and Finance
The metaverse has transformed the pattern of digital transactions differently with the help of blockchain technology and the rise of its decentralized approach to storing data. Now the outlooks of bank and finance systems are in grave need to adapt innovative digital solutions which work best for both consumers and businesses. Bank enterprises such as Citi, NBank of Kuwait, and others have already announced initiatives such as VR training and customer applications.
Food and beverages
The food and beverage industry has a massive opportunity through metaverse to innovate using AI and create value for consumers, such as by reducing food waste, creating new food trends, and more. Campaigns like Coca-Cola launching an exclusive NFT collection or Wendy’s epic campaign on Fortnite can inspire a lot of other brands to further innovation in the food and beverage industry. This innovative way can also bring new ways to engage consumers.
The healthcare industry is in pursuit to explore new ways to acquire a wider audience using a blend of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality. Mixed Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Some of the noticeable experiments include:
Neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins are already using AR to assist in surgeries on living patients
data collected from MRI and CT scans can be used to allow surgeons to accurately visualize patients’ anatomy
In some applications of these technologies, psychiatrists are using VR as a tool to treat post-traumatic stress among combat veterans, and medical schools are using it to provide surgical training.
The metaverse is certainly transforming every aspect of life, not only in delivering entertainment as it sounds like but a tremendous chance for brands and businesses to transform innovatively. We are just a few steps away from actually making our avatars alive in the virtual world or part of the citizens of the metaverse.