If you have been keeping up with the news, you have heard about Facebook’s name change to Meta. Zuckerberg made some bold statements about the Metaverse and how it is going to impact our lives. We will be expected to have a second life and a virtual image entirely on a digital world in which we will work and entertain ourselves. The Metaverse promises that the barriers between real and virtual worlds is going to disappear to connect users in all aspects of their lives.
While many big names are currently investing in developing the required technology and infrastructure to build the Metaverse, we are going to discuss how current technology trends and Industry 4.0 are taking us closer to Web 3.0 and the Metaverse.
During the Pandemic, we had to heavily rely on virtual spaces and tools to continue working and socializing. How many virtual birthday parties, graduation celebrations, baby showers or weddings did you attend in the past two years? Before covid, we did not usually use virtual conference rooms outside work. In 2000 only big companies regularly worked remotely with locations overseas. Virtual conference tools and VOIP phones were ridiculously expensive and only accessible for huge corporations. However, when quarantine strict restrictions hit in 2020, most companies were able to sustain regular operations remotely.
What did we learn about virtual meetings during the pandemic? While most face-to-face social interactions will not be substituted by virtual meetings, some entertainment and some social interactions will never go back to what we were used to before 2020. At work, we missed the quiet of a workspace away from home distractions, but we loved how being remote limited the social interactions with co-workers and greatly reduced commuting time and expenses. There are some that after two years are still not ready to go back full time to the office but would love to still have some social interactions with co-workers, especially if that boosts collaboration while wearing pajama bottoms and cozy socks.
As a result, the Metaverse might still be a long way from becoming a reality, but history is a good indicator of the possible future applications and needs for such a digital world.
The Metaverse will be able to provide decentralized, secure virtual worlds or Augmented Reality in physical spaces for you to interact with other people around the world for entertainment, social, or working purposes. Let’s go over current and future considerations around the metaverse.
Although most virtual reality products are still under development and they still have a long way before mass adoption, companies will benefit from this technology. Let’s imagine for a moment an architect wearing augmented reality glasses at a new construction site. With those glasses, the architect can leverage 3D visualization of blueprints and electrical diagrams eliminating the need for paper or computers and see exactly how the building would look like. Now imagine if all the crew members and engineers could see the same in real time while adding notes or modifications. This can speed up the communication and approval process for modifications to the building.
Virtual reality will also provide a new space in factories. Right now, maintenance engineers can diagnose and simulate changes on virtual twins from machines and facilities. In the future, we hope that engineers will use virtual reality headsets to visit facilities, avoiding physical visits all together, and boosting productivity.
However, an application that is closer to reality is virtual meetings in digital worlds with avatars allowing real time collaboration almost like being in an actual conference room with your co-workers. This will boost productivity while still working remotely in pajama bottoms. The pandemic proved that we want some form of social interaction with co-workers while still working from remote spaces with comfy clothing and great views.
Along those lines, we have social applications. For relatives and friends abroad or some distant connection you may want to keep in touch, offering virtual spaces for social interactions like birthday parties, graduation celebrations, weddings, can be useful. Metaverse concerns arise from the current fact that most people will still prefer face-to-face interactions when possible and the most famous social media channels that currently exist fight to maintain users’ engagement. Today, other major privacy concerns relate to a third party holding and selling sensitive information to companies without regard for the sensitivity of the information and with little to no governmental control. Since the Metaverse is supposed to be democratized and decentralized, we still do not have the technology or the laws that can rule that new world.
Since entertainment has an important role in our lives, the Metaverse will have to offer spaces for it. Nowadays, we already have gaming platforms that allow users from all over the world to play and collaborate. What is missing? The complete immersive experience that virtual reality promises. The idea here is that you will be able to interact in that world as if you are truly there: see, feel, hear, and possibly touch objects. The technological limitation is the virtual reality headsets. Many companies and startups are developing different versions that will allow a smooth and realistic experience. But none are successful yet to jump to mass-production and adoption. Nevertheless, collaborative, and online gaming is turning more popular each year opening new possibilities for e-Sports and providing a huge demand for future virtual reality technology.
The Metaverse will require an international, secure, decentralized currency to operate which means that it will work globally without governmental control. Current cryptocurrencies depend on blockchain. This technology is now being used to keep transactions clear and provide a certain level of security to owners. But cyberattacks on cryptocurrencies are a possibility, for example. By taking out banks from the equation and allowing private individuals to deal with money, you might find that costs can be reduced but security becomes a problem. Since currencies depend on trust and speculation, there are still many unanswered questions as to how the Metaverse currency can affect world economies and how to avoid negative effects on local currencies.
One of the major threats to creating the Metaverse is security. This new world is going to aim at decentralization and democratization of resources. How are we going to manage and control behaviors in the Metaverse without a government and local laws? How are the new criminal activities be punished or stopped? Who will enforce new laws? At this point we have more questions than answers. History shows that it takes a while for the legal system to get up to speed with new criminal activity and as such, we can expect the same once the Metaverse is created.
What does it all mean for hardware?
A couple of technology trends we have now will probably be boosted once the Metaverse arrives. For example, Edge Computing. We can expect that the need to bring computing closer to the user will accelerate in the following years. You can read more in this blog post. In addition, virtual meetings on the Metaverse will require enormous amounts of data to be transmitted and stored. The need for powerful and efficient servers will continue to rise. Virtual Twins are another example of how demand for powerful servers will continue. However, for virtual twins to operate efficiently you will also require a network of sensors, PLCs, and box computers to work together seamlessly. You can read more in this blog. Finally, cybersecurity features in hardware will become a must have in most components. Physical attacks are rare but not impossible, especially in certain applications. If you want to learn more, you can visit our Cybersecurity blog series.
In conclusion, the Metaverse is not yet here but many technologies required are. For example, we already use Data Centers, Edge Computing, Virtual Twins, Internet of Things, Blockchain, and Cybersecurity. If you want to learn more about these technologies and how they impact hardware, visit our Metaverse Blog Series.