By Mousume Roy, Contributing Writer, HCL Technologies Ltd.
The Metaverse has fast become one of the big technology talking points of 2022. In the recently concluded World Economic Forum 2022, leaders, technologists, and corporations discussed the subject at length.
The Metaverse is the latest innovation highlighting that the enterprise is in the middle of a digital revolution. Once considered a niche concept of tech enthusiasts, the Metaverse could be a game-changer in overcoming the challenges of user experience that businesses consistently face.
According to a recent Citi report, the total addressable market for the Metaverse could be between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030, with total Metaverse users numbering around five billion.
Accelerated by the pandemic
The pandemic has transformed culture, entertainment, education, healthcare, and the retail experience.
With meetings in Zoom, online education, and virtual tours of museums becoming mainstream, the blend of virtual and augmented reality are increasingly being felt in the physical world. The popularity of VR headsets and AR glasses in gaming, virtual live-music performances in entertainment, and even trying out clothes virtually in retail and ecommerce, is exploding.
“In this hyper connected world, pretty much everything that you have in the physical world is getting mirrored into digital avatar or a twin or coexistent version,” said Kalyan Kumar, CTO and Head of Ecosystems at HCL Technologies. There are three significant use cases in the Metaverse: consumer, education and business or talent acquisition.
Kumar predicts, “Every business which exists in the physical verse will have its footprint and metaverse”.
Metaverse use cases
Workspace collaboration and recruitment
Working from home during the pandemic sped up the demand for a virtual world and immersive environments where people could work, network, interact, and hold meetings.
Based on the concept, corporates are proposing an “always on” environment that showcases workspace collaboration where colleagues can meet each other while sitting in different locations across the world, host meetings, conduct workshops, or simply catch up with each other in a virtual recreational zone.
Talent acquisition, hiring and onboarding is also a significant use case in the Metaverse. Hyundai is using Zepeto for new employee inductions, Samsung conducted a Metaverse recruitment fair, where the candidates interacted with HR using avatars. And, Meta started testing its remote work app Horizon Workrooms in August, with people using the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets to hold meetings using avatars of themselves.
Immersive digital environment for customers
The Metaverse allows customers to take products for a digital test run and experience different options available. Virtual reality transcends businesses to offer immersive customer experiences that are not even possible in the real world.
We Make-Up, a cosmetic brand, saw a 53% higher CTR when they ran AR ads that let customers virtually try on different lipstick shades. The popularity of services like Fortnite and Roblox with millennials is also paving the way for more virtual worlds with their own economies to create a more human experience.
Learning, education, and training as an area of interest
Virtual learning isn’t something new, however, the Metaverse is increasingly being used to make learning more immersive and accelerate skills development.
Manufacturing giant Bosch has developed a VR-training tool, using the Oculus Quest headset, to train technicians on electric vehicle maintenance. And, the UK-based company, Metaverse Learning, worked with the UK Skills Partnership to develop augmented reality training models for front-line nurses to test learners’ skills in specific scenarios.
The visual and interactive nature of theMetaverse also has the potential to help bridge learning disabilities in students. Metaverse-based learning is also likely to appeal particularly to autistic people, who respond better to visual than verbal cues. With virtual agents, AI-enabled digital coaches, and bots, it can help learners when they get stuck.
Endless possibilities in healthcare
The Metaverse in the healthcare market is expected to reach US$ 71.97 Billion by 2030, according to the latest research by InsightAce Analytic.
Emerging technologies, including AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), intelligent cloud, quantum computing, blockchain, and robotics, are ready to transform patients’ experiences. Surgeons can increase the use of robotics and AR platforms to perform complex surgical procedures with greater precision and accuracy.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the telemedicine market and popularized the remote treatment of patients.
Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are already being used in physical therapy, cognitive therapy, mental healthcare, and rehabilitation, as patients are no longer limited to their physical location. In the Metaverse, therapies (psychological or psychiatric) could soon become the standard way to provide mental health care more engagingly. Even fitness in the Metaverse is picking up with tech companies trading sweat for crypto and NFTs to help customers earn while they burn.
What Metaverse can do for business
Beyond a concept, the Metaverse arrived in the mainstream when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg renamed his company, Meta.
Zuckerberg said, “In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company.”
Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment. As no single vendor will own the Metaverse, the research firm also expects it to have a virtual economy enabled by digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Major tech companies continue to develop their Metaverse capabilities; Microsoft, Nvidia, Roblox, and Epic Games have already developed products for this environment.
What comes next
The new reality of the Metaverse and its burgeoning use cases show that it can spark genuine human connections, immersive customer experience, and enhanced productivity can be achieved in this virtual environment while delivering more value to computing platforms. On the whole, improved digital experiences via the Metaverse can catapult a fascinating new dimension of the human experience—and the world is ready for it.