At Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg proceeded in a critical strategic announcement by officially introducing the Facebook company rebrand Meta, the name of the company that will focus on developing metaverse ecosystems.
Meta is not the only company including metaverse tech in its strategic roadmap, with Microsoft, SK Telecom, Unity, and Nvidia all investing in the technology with aspirations of leading the metaverse arena.
All these tech players already are experienced with the key technologies essential for the metaverse.
The metaverse is the convergence of the physical and virtual 3D world over the internet, where users own their avatars/holograms and can collaborate and interact with virtual objects and other avatars.
Use cases could include conducting business, socializing, or attending events.
To become a reality, metaverse requires the further maturity and the synergy of multiple emerging technologies that are the key components of the digital transformation journey for many industries today, including AI, computer vision IoT, AR/VR, edge/cloud compute, blockchain, and 5G.
Among the technologies essential for building the metaverse, IoT, digital twins and AI are the most critical that need to be deployed first.
To establish the duality of the digital and physical world, it is essential to create the digital twins of the real world, environments, and assets.
Digital twins are digital replications of physical assets/buildings or processes that use collected data to reflect their real time performance and status changes.
As the amount of collected data increases, the introduction of AI and machine learning algorithms can make digital twins more viable and increase the capabilities in a metaverse scenario.
AI algorithms can learn from the large amount of historic data, make informed decisions and automatically predict future actions or recommend solutions.
For example, the deployment of smart city metaverse use case is very promising, thanks to the rapid growth of smart city IoT projects.
By leveraging data from IoT sensors, it is possible to create the digital twin of the entire city that can provide information about buildings, traffic status, parking availability, and energy consumption.
In the metaverse stage of a smart city, citizens could visit public authorities virtually through their avatars or be continuously updated and visualize smart city data where and when they need it.
At that point, the XR (extended reality) devices which is essentially the human interface for metaverse scenarios allow users to visualize IoT data and digital twins in the real world, interact with digital objects, create content and manage their avatars or holograms.
In the early stage of metaverse deployment, the majority of apps and use cases will be focused on entertainment, gaming, and social networking.
However, as metaverse technology evolves and matures, it has the potential to empower other verticals like manufacturing, engineering and smart cities.
Besides the technological requirements needed to reach that stage of the metaverse, it requires a series of activities focused on social acceptance, privacy and security, and content creation.
Privacy and security concerns are a critical topic, as metaverse involves avatars/assets that do not exist in the real world and are expected to collect a huge amount of several types of data, including biometric and economic trail, which can put a user at risk.
Expect security and privacy approaches to play an essential role, which will define the leaders in the metaverse.
Players that aspire to lead should be proactive and address these issues from the beginning.
Eleftheria Kouri is senior research analyst, IoT, at Omdia