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Metaverse: what’s that and how does it impact?
The day is not far off when we will be able to present a project, get in and out from offices and conference rooms, chat with our colleagues from all over the world, participate in a work meeting and discuss with a client, all while remaining comfortably seated at our desk, without having to rely on traditional methods of communication or travel kilometers to physically go to places.
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and the advent of the Metaverse, which is profoundly changing our way of working, in fact we will be able to experience a new era of communication in which virtual reality will be increasingly similar to physical reality, and our work connections will not be limited by geographic distance anymore.
According to The Impact of Technology in 2023, a research by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s leading organisation in electrical and electronics engineering and information technologies, technology leaders predict that the AI and the Metaverse will change the way the world does business in 2023.
In fact, one on four of global technology leaders believe that in 2023, 75% of jobs across the world economy will be boosted by AI-powered softwares, while the vast majority of technology sector executives plan to move within the Metaverse in the coming years.
Respondents said that cloud computing (chosen by 40%), 5G (38%), Metaverse (37%), electric vehicles (35%) and the Industrial Internet of Things (33%) will be the most important areas for technologies to focus on in the future ahead.
Industry sectors that are expected to gain the most significant impact and return from technology include telecommunications (40%), automotive and transportation (39%), energy (33%) and banking and financial services (33%).
The survey involved 350 CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and other technology leaders from the US, UK, China, India and Brazil. The people interviewed work in organisations with more than 1,000 employees in various industries, including banking and financial services, consumer goods, education, electronics, engineering, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, retail, technology and telecommunications.
But what is the Metaverse and what are its real implications? In recent years, the English word Metaverse has become increasingly popular considering that many companies, both Big Tech and tech startups, are working together to build new systems and solutions by using these technologies. But the metaverse is not a recent concept as most people would think.
The meaning of Metaverse and its origins
The word Metaverse appeared for the first time in 1992 in the post-cyberpunk science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Town Stephenson. The American author describes the Metaverse as a sort of virtual reality shared via the Internet, where every user is represented in three dimensions through an avatar.
According to Stephenson, the Metaverse is a large black sphere with a circumference equal to 65536 km, cut in two at the equator by a road that can also be traveled on a monorail, with 256 stations 256 km away each one to the others: on this sphere each person can create all the places he wants in 3D, from shops to offices and even nightclubs, which can potentially be visited by other users. One of the most famous examples of Metaverse is Second Life, the platform where it is possible to create an avatar and interact with other people as if we we’re actually together in the same place.
An even broader definition provided by the investor Matthew Ball, author of the collection The Metaverse Primer, describes the Metaverse as: “An enduring network of 3D worlds that expands in real time, which returns a continuous sense of identity over time, in which objects remain and which keeps track of past transactions. An unlimited number of users, each with their own sense of physical presence, can experience it synchronously”.
Centralised and decentralised metaverses and their characteristics
The Metaverse can be divided into two main types: centralised and decentralised:
- In the first case, the management is entrusted to a single entity that controls access, economy, development and operations of the virtual world;
- In the second case, the management is distributed among several entities, the DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisations) which cooperate in order to create a democratic and safe environment.
Therefore, it would be more correct to speak about “Metaverses“, since the platforms that allow access to this virtual reality are numerous and have different characteristics. However, it is possible to identify some common traits in all the kinds of Metaverses:
- Three-dimensional spaces in which it is possible to work, play, deal commercial agreements and move around in total freedom using the avatars;
- The virtual spaces can be created by the users who make them available to other users later;
- The connection between real and digital space is made possible by the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and technologies like AI and NFTs;
- You can use virtual and real currencies;
- Virtual spaces comply to technical standards, protocols, interoperability, digital property, Blockchain technology and legislation that regulates its use.
How worklife will change due to AI and metaverse?
The Metaverse is still an ongoing project and, according to the professionals involved in the IEEE research, 5G and ubiquitous connectivity (71%), virtual reality headsets (58%) and augmented reality glasses (58%) will be very important for its development.
Technologies related to virtual worlds are also expected to be employed in a variety of ways: 91% of respondents agree that their company will adopt Metaverse-related technology strategies to bring employees together for corporate training and hybrid meetings. Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents say that, in 2023, 26-75% of interactions with their company’s stakeholders will take place virtually.
Furthermore, almost all of the experts who participated in the research believe that it will be important to use digital twin technology and virtual simulations for a more efficient design, development and testing of product prototypes and production processes.
The world of work can be profoundly influenced by the Metaverse, indeed, helping create a more flexible and efficient environment where communications will be fast and simple. In addition, AI and Augmented Reality will help make it easier to access the information needed for a variety of tasks. This will make it possible to foster processes such as collaborative design, product design, real-time production, employee training and significantly accelerate productivity and innovation too, representing an important key factor to the competitiveness of companies.
The use of virtual reality will be also essential in the HR to replace traditional recruiting methodologies or to offer candidates a more personalised user experience while applying for a job. Companies, so, will be able to save on infrastructure and personnel costs, reduce IT tool development times and optimise training activities. In short, the Metaverse may represent a new way of working and could be the key to make use of the potential of virtual worlds.