METAVERSE: A Virtual World Running In Parallel With The Physical World
Encompassing immersive environments often using segmented or virtual reality technology, the metaverse spans multiple platforms in real time. It runs on a virtual economy largely built on cryptocurrency and digital goods and assets and is populated by virtual identities. All of this allows us to exist, interact and transact virtually. The global value creation opportunity from the metaverse could be in the trillions (ref: https://fortune.com/2022/04/01/citi-metaverse-economy-13-trillion-2030/): Meta alone invested $10billion in 2021.
In the metaverse, you aren’t restricted by the limitations of the “real” world; anything is possible. It isn’t a new concept; it emerged way back with games such as the SIMS and Second Life but now we’re starting to see immersive virtual worlds like Fortnite and Minecraft being developed due to advancements in technology.
Even though it’s at its early stages, the consumer attraction to the metaverse is part of the evolution of the web. As computing power improves, metaverse experiences are made increasingly possible and accessible; data-heavy processes are able to move off local devices due to Cloud and edge computing; 5G reduces latency and improves availability; devices required in augmented and virtual reality environments such as specialist headsets, gloves and bodysuits are becoming less expensive.
Most metaverse users are familiar with omnichannel commerce where payment credentials are embedded in the software being used in their online environments. As tech develops and platforms merge, we’ll see wider adoption of cryptocurrencies being used from crypto wallets within a metaverse. Already we see innovation in both physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical transactions, such as ordering Domino’s pizza in-game for deliveries of actual pizza in the real world.
While the Gaming and Entertainment industries have been the first adopters, there are other clear commercial applications:
Virtual prototyping can improve time to market
Construction firms can design and render new yet-to-be-built buildings which consumers could walk around while being informed of the benefits of (eg) the materials used.
Usually restricted spaces such as a manufacturing facility can be toured.
Interactive training and team collaboration can be rolled out.
Fashion retailers can allow their clothes to be tried on.
Virtual showrooms can be created with full “hands on” product experience and live assistance.
Tradeshow representatives no longer have to rely on cramped booth space and a couple of handouts: they can demonstrate their products in new and exciting ways in a branded virtual world.
Rather than a traditional static brochure, a virtual asset can bring images and products to life, described or presented by a subject matter expert. People can interact, asking questions which can be met with specific rather than generic answers.
Looking ahead, content creators will be central to the metaverse and those who do it well will keep up with the explosive growth we expect to see. If you think of the amount of user information platforms retain even now, just think of the levels of precision targeting that could be achieved if people had another life in a virtual world! While those who are tasked with data protection and privacy will have some adjustments to make, the user (or customer) experience will be much more relevant and personalised- a digital marketer’s dream!