I don’t think there is a more popular buzzword today than “Metaverse”. So if we let other people smarter than me define it, I particularly like Karina Nobbs’, which goes like: “a persistent, live digital universe that affords individuals a sense of agency, social presence, and shared spatial awareness, along with the ability to participate in an extensive virtual economy with profound societal impact.”
But what is it good for?
So far, most demonstrations or concepts don’t transcend beyond what it looks like an amazing graphics game, but one that is quite boring. In essence, most concepts apply current thinking to a 3D, virtual tool, without really offering much more than meeting IRL (in real life), but without the need to go through traffic. That’s not good enough for me as a business proposition.
Let’s be fair, I think we don’t know what we don’t know. We can probably trace a parallel with the Internet, where it’s formal definition goes like “a global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite to communicate between networks and devices”. It is a great technical definition, but it doesn’t say anything about Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Netflix, Zoom, or for that matter, Tinder.
So here are a few use cases (probably not very imaginative) that I find useful:
Every building had a blueprint at some point. Structural, mechanic, electric. All the pipes and fittings and the HVAC are somewhere documented. So every time there is the need to make a change, find a pipe (and this could be either for remodel purposes, or maybe because the fire department is looking for the main cutoff valve for a floor), the field crew could slap on the goggles and just look behind the dry wall, and even three or four floors down.
VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM
How many times have your online clothes or shoes ordering turn out a total #FAIL ? What if you could digitize yourself, and provided that the manufacturer does the same; you could try on the clothes in the metaverse? No more “a tad tight”. Retailers could actually save $$$s by preventing lots of returns.
PRODUCT & ACCESSORIES DEMO
Sometimes, we have to find X, that fits Y. For example, a carrying case. This is a very similar scenario to the one above, except that now you would be comparing the digitized versions of two different products, provided by two different vendors.
If you have ever prototyped something, you know that rarely you get what you envision on the first try. That, goes to the recycle bin. So if you have a Digital Twin of the manufacturing process, now you could run the whole set of instructions through it and inspect the outcome in the metaverse. Once you got it right, manufacture the actual piece. It’s like having a “Debug Run” for manufacturing, and in a world where 3-D printed stuff will be more common, every item becomes a prototype.
The immersive experience that the metaverse promises makes it a great candidate to offer training scenarios in a safe environment. But this becomes even more interesting when we take into account that artificial intelligence systems based on deep learning, have to be trained as well. What if the data set for training is not available? A simulated scenario may be the best we can do.
Musicians, when they play together, they not only listen to each other. There are nods, and eyebrows raised, and the occasional rock-out. Practicing at a distance, in the metaverse can be a game changer for musician collaboration, provided we can solve the latency issue reasonably.
What other non-gaming use cases can you come up with?