The metaverse is a nascent and evolving space whose definition can vary widely depending on who you ask. The challenge at this point is to compile a comprehensive and reliable list of technologies that will help the metaverse thrive over the next decade. We managed to do just that.
“We consider metaverses not to be a specific group of technologies per se, because they are made up of several technologies,” observed Marty Resnick, vice president analyst at Gartner. Instead, “we see them as technology themes.” Spatial computing, digital humans, virtual spaces, shared experiences, games, and token assets are among those themes, Resnick said, and they encompass a range of technologies that will help bolster the development of the metaverse. .
Similarly, Forrester Research characterizes these types of technologies as “enablers of 3D development environments” capable of performing sophisticated modeling, according to JP Gownder, vice president and principal analyst. As a result, he explained, organizations will need professionals who are skilled in 3D modeling and familiar with Unity and Unreal game engines. Other skills required will depend on what is programmed – for example, IoT skill sets for digital twins. “Most companies won’t have those skills right now,” Gownder noted, “and will have to work with third parties or recruit talent.”
Technologies enabling the metaverse can range from game engines to digital twins to extended reality that converge to solve real-world problems in new ways, added Jason Warnke, senior managing director and head of global digital experience at IT consultancy firm Accenture. “A booming business can completely create its own metaverse before making a real move into the real world,” Warnke conjectured. “She could build a digital twin that lays out exactly what a factory would look like before she even laid a brick. Before she took a single dollar or swiped a credit card, they may have described her own NFT system.”
“The Corporate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Metaverse”, from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), identifies the following three categories of technologies that define the metaverse:
- metaverse worlds (M-worlds);
- augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR); and
- Web3 and virtual assets.
M-worlds are immersive apps that give businesses new ways to reach audiences, including Gen Z users. M-worlds can run on mobile devices as well as PCs and AR/VR headsets . Web3 is in its infancy but, according to the authors of the BCG guide, “already powers a vibrant virtual asset economy that includes cryptocurrencies, NFTs [non-fungible tokens] and smart contracts. The consultancy expects Web3 and traditional financial transactions to co-exist for the foreseeable future. include virtual meetings, training sessions, new product designs and virtual house tours to potential customers.
Based on expert opinion and extensive research, we’ve narrowed down our list to seven of the most frequently mentioned technologies that will help power the Metaverse and its development.
AI plays a central role in the development of bots and chatbots and brings intelligence to computer vision in the real world. But, according to BCG, only 10% of enterprises report significant AI benefits from their deployments. AI processing capabilities could create metaverse avatars, enhance the characteristics of digital humans to make them more realistic, and be applied to non-player characters who converse with players in game environments.
2. Internet of Things
The Blockchain Council refers to IoT as “an important pillar of metaverse infrastructure”. The metaverse and the IoT integrated together can, for example, “open up new opportunities for the industrial domain, individual needs and social requirements”, the council reported. The IoT would allow virtual spaces to access and interact with the real world seamlessly, while the metaverse would provide the 3D user interface for the cluster of IoT devices, resulting in what the council calls “an experience IoT and the user-centric metaverse”. In a factory where each machine’s digital twin has sensors, for example, sensor data can be used to explore environments and provide feedback, Gownder said.
3. Extended Reality
AR, VR and MR technologies will transform the way businesses view and use data by moving from 2D to 3D for more realistic experiences and digital displays that better synchronize with head movements, according to BCG. When AR glasses become more common, computer vision will help people understand the environment and locate the right information. Extended Reality (XR) is already used, for example, in Microsoft’s HoloLens, allowing users to experience 3D holographic images as if they were part of their surroundings.
4. Brain-computer interfaces
Although the World Economic Forum (WEF) includes brain-computer interfaces in its list of technologies that will shape the metaverse, Gownder thinks BCIs are “science fiction for now…Find me someone who uses the BCI for business”. The WEF recognizes that BCI is “perhaps the most ambitious vision for the metaverse” as the technology aims to replace traditional control screens and physical hardware. Still, the forum noted that BCI and XR combined “position themselves as the next full-fledged computing platforms.”
5. 3D modeling and reconstruction
3D reconstruction captures the shape and appearance of real objects and will make the metaverse a reality. The technology includes tools such as 3D modeling to provide a three-dimensional framework and prototype of a specific process or product. For perspective, the global 3D reconstruction technology market is expected to double over the next few years to reach around $2 billion by 2028, according to a report by SkyQuest Technology Consulting.
6. Spatial Computing and Edge Computing
Spatial computing combines AR, VR, and MR to interact with the real world, and edge computing can provide fast response time to user actions that mimic reality and keep users immersed in the metaverse. Any type of space technology, including computer vision, is very relevant to metaverses, Gownder said, adding “being able to place an avatar, collaboration, it’s all about spatial dimension.”
Blockchain isn’t “great compared to employees or corporate metaverses today,” Gownder surmised. Still, discussions focus on how technology can be used to secure digital content and data in the metaverse. avoid delays or single points of failure.
What’s on the horizon
Deloitte defines digital humans as avatars – AI-powered virtual human-like beings – who can engage in human conversation by interpreting a customer’s language and return not only the facts the customer needs, but also the appropriate nonverbal response.
Gartner’s Resnick discussed a use case where a company builds a virtual customer experience center for networking, socializing, or transacting. “If you think on the scale of the metaverse,” he conjectured, “I can’t endow [it] 24 hours a day and I can’t cope with a large number of people who might enter this room. So, I can use digital humans to be this conversational AI or… non-player characters who can act as a representative of my organization. Businesses can provide a presence, converse with customers, and build trust. organization as opposed to billboards,” Resnick added. “That’s one of the many use cases we’re seeing.”
Gartner also predicts that businesses will likely focus first on virtual spaces and shared experiences. The biggest area of investment over the next few years is likely to be in what Gartner calls intravers technologies. “An intraverse,” Resnick explained, “is essentially how we envision creating internal virtual environments for the use of employee communication, collaboration, onboarding, and training. another way of saying we’re creating our own virtual office.” By 2027, Gartner predicted that fully virtual workspaces will reinvent the desktop experience and account for 30% of growth in enterprise investment in metaverse technologies.