Impacting real-world outcomes through virtual representation requires a full-stack approach

Berenice Baker, Editor

February 27, 2024

5 Min Read
Photo of the conference session

The industrial metaverse is the natural evolution of the consumer metaverse. It has the potential to transform the manufacturing industry but it needs collaboration, technology and interoperability baked into its development. 

A panel at Mobile World Congress 2024, taking place in Barcelona on Feb. 26 to 29, said that the industrial metaverse is already being used in a wide range of industries and will continue to grow. AI and metaverse will accelerate each other's growth, but there is a need for a physical representation of the physical world to train AI algorithms. 

Defining the Metaverse

Panel members began by giving their interpretation of the metaverse.

Anissa Bellini, head of strategy for the manufacturing industries at Dassault Systèmes, described the industrial metaverse as a “virtual personal universe” as it is the convergence between a visual representation of something real but connected with the physical object. 

“Imagine your things in the virtual environment so that you can improve the real world,” she said. “As well as imagining, innovating, testing and simulating, the industrial metaverse also enables collaboration and sharing knowledge and know-how within this environment. It’s virtual but it needs to be connected to the real world.” 

Related:Google DeepMind CEO on AGI, OpenAI and Beyond – MWC 2024

Jane Rygaard, head of corporate partnerships at Nokia, said in her role she sees the whole industry working together to make the industrial metaverse happen. 

“It's how do we have a digital representation of the of the physical world but at the same time, how are we able to impact back in the physical world,” she said. “It is not enough just to have the image, there has to be an action coming out of it into the real world again. We have to consider how people fit in too.”

Ingrid Cotorus leads technology engineering for devices at Meta and was able to offer a metaverse insider’s perspective. 

“If we think about the metaverse, it's just the natural evolution of how we're all going to connect to the next internet. It’s the natural evolution of the consumer metaverse,” she said. “It is a place of collaboration, education and training. It defies distance and time barriers. It's a place where you get to data faster, you get to solution faster.”

Soma Velayatham, global business development lead at Nvidia, wanted to clarify the difference between the metaverse, simulation and digital twins. 

“Simulation is probably a subset of the metaverse but digital twins and metaverse is a much larger picture,” he said. “It is fully physical, so fidelity is important. It has to represent exactly what the real world represents. It has to be real-time and be able to synchronize with the physical world. This is our idea of what the metaverse should be."

Related:Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2024 Preview

Industrial Metaverse Use Cases

The panel then turned to use cases for the industrial metaverse. Velayatham identified two major examples: industrial design and training AI.

“When somebody is trying to design in the metaverse, you remove a lot of waste, compared with physical design, like car manufacturing industrial lines. By doing it with physical fidelity, you're able to remove a lot of that waste,” he said.

“The second one we see is because the metaverse represents the physical world, AI can train within the metaverse. For example, a self-driving car or a robot can train in the metaverse and be quickly deployed in the physical world. If you had to train in the physical world for, say, 200 hours, you can now buy back 200 hours with compute and reduce the training time to maybe two hours by adding more computers.”

Cotorus added that another interesting industrial use case for the metaverse is training and education.

“In California, we have wildfires regularly. We're proud to be working with the California Fire Department to do training on VR headsets that allow the trainees to go into situations that otherwise they only encounter in a crisis. You get to have that training in a safe environment but go through the motions and understand what needs to happen, and how you need to react. We like to think that with that not only do we bring efficiency in the training space, but we also save lives.”

According to Bellini, Dassault is looking to build personalized digital twins of organs to improve surgical outcomes. 

“We started to model the human heart in 3D 10 years ago. Today we can also model how it will behave,” she said. “We can create a unique virtual twin of an individual heart, understand what type of disease it has and how to treat it with surgery or predict how it will progress over time.” 

Rygaard gave Nokia’s perspective on how these solutions are developed and what supporting technology they need but also stressed the importance of industry insight.

“We need a whole stack of technology — computing, AI, networking and security, for example. Can one company do all of it? We also need the knowledge of the industries that will use it. It doesn't help us train firefighters if we don't know what it means to be a firefighter. It doesn't help with manufacturing without seeing a factory,” she said. 

“No one of us can build it on our own, we need partnerships. We have to make sure that we draw on the strengths that we have between us, from both a technology point of view and from a knowledge point of view. But we need to think about where it's going to be used in the end because otherwise, we’re here at Mobile World Congress preaching to ourselves saying we'll make technology for the sake of technology.”

This article first appeared in IoT World Today. Subscribe to their newsletter to stay updated on IoT news.

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About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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