Dr. Pero Mićić
Suddenly everyone is talking about the Metaverse
It should be no less than the next Internet. The next big thing. They say we will attend concerts and meet friends there, in the Metaverse. That we will work in the metaverse, that we will earn our living with the production of digital products and with digital services. That we can travel into history to witness, say, the storming of the Bastille. Like on the holodeck. Or into the future in scenarios of life in 2050. That we can have experiences beyond our imagination in virtual space. Is that realistic? Is that really what’s coming? What threats and what opportunities does the Metaverse bring to you professionally and business-wise?
The next big thing?
If you see the Metaverse as a gimmick, you’re making the same mistake as those who dismissed the Internet as a nerdy gimmick in the 1990s. In fact, if even a part of it becomes real, it is one of THE greatest man-made things in history! Then it will drastically expand the boundaries of our lives. Then new markets with trillions in sales and value will emerge. And with it more prosperity and quality of life. For all.
Yes, it will also bring new dangers. More about that later.
If it’s said that two-thirds of today’s children will work in professions and jobs we don’t know about today, then a good portion of them will be created in the Metaverse. No matter what profession you have and what business you are in. Now is the time to understand the metaverse, classify it and take the first actions.
Where can I see the metaverse already?
Since the 1970s, it has been clear to technology visionaries that something like the metaverse would one day exist. The metaverse is just emerging. But all its elements are already there.
One of the most famous virtual worlds is Fortnite. For example, millions of users attended a single Ariana Grande concert there. Of course, you can also play in Fortnite, but that was only the first step. Fortnite comes pretty close to the Metaverse, as they have made it possible for their users to interact with users from other platforms as well.
Or take the city of Seoul in South Korea: they have started to build a Metaverse platform for public administration. Yes, you hear me right, public administration as a metaverse experience for citizens. The first events took place already in September 2021[2.
Meta, aka Facebook, operates “Horizon Workrooms,” which, the name suggests, is produced as a work environment. And Horizon Home is the virtual home. Quasi the dream house you always wanted, practically free of charge, just virtually.
The CEO of Microsoft recently delivered his keynote in Altspace VR. Already today, anyone can collaborate with colleagues in a virtual world in Microsoft TEAMS.
NVidia is investing heavily in software for their version of the Metaverse, which they call Omniverse. This allows companies to design, simulate and optimize their factories, plants and salesrooms.
The real future of the Metaverse, however, is best demonstrated by Decentraland. Because it belongs to the users, not to a classic central company that retains 100% of the revenue, like Facebook. It is basically an artificially intelligent cooperative. Decentraland is based on a DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization. This is practically a company that consists only of code. Decentraland is technically based on an Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts. These are the rules and the processes by which the organization operates. The rules are designed by the users. Quite democratic. And because the rules are blockchain-proof, there can be no misbehavior. It is then not ‘don’t be evil’, it is simply ‘can’t be evil’. It is impossible to behave evil even if you wanted to. Fascinating!
What exactly is the Metaverse?
The Internet is flat. It hides in the screens, screens and displays. The Internet is 2D, but we are made for a 3D life. The Metaverse will make it possible for us to really be ON the Internet. Just as today you go from one website to the next with one click, in the metaverse you go from one virtual world to another. It feels like teleporting, or more simply, beaming. So the metaverse is not one virtual world, but many interconnected virtual worlds. Hence the word meta.
In a broader sense, the metaverse also includes the digital virtual layer that is placed over our real world. Virtual reality plus augmented or mixed reality.
Today, we look at our smartphones when we walk through an unfamiliar city. In the future, but only if we want to, we will use data glasses to look out into the world again and see everything we want to know at the moment superimposed on the real world.
Even if you don’t want to go into the virtual metaverse, you will hardly be able to avoid the metaverse in the future, because it will also come to us in our real world.
You can also use the MV with a normal screen. But we will only have the truly three-dimensional experience with headsets and smart glasses. In some situations even with full-body suits to be able to physically experience the virtual reality.
Do I think that in the future we will spend our days with clunky displays right in front of our eyes? No, of course not. We will dive in when we want to or when we need to. And the headsets will be much smaller and lighter.
Why should I take the Metaverse seriously?
There are two main reasons for this:
1. now we have all the building blocks for the metaverse
We now have the computing power, bandwidth, AI, software, blockchains and smart contracts to create the Metaverse. And massive investments are being made in infrastructure.
The visualizations of the experiences are already amazingly lifelike today. The boundaries between reality and virtuality disappear in the upcoming Metaverse.
If you’ve seen the movie Lionking, you’ve seen how true to life the Metaverse will be in the future. Lionking was created in Unity, a development platform for virtual worlds. The Mandalorian series was produced on the Unreal Engine by Epics Games, which also runs Fortnite.
2. now large and important companies are investing billions in the metaverse
You may not be able to do much with previous virtual world developers and providers like Epic Games, Immersive Tech, Roblox, Matterport, or Unity. But you know names like Facebook, now Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet and Google, Apple, Amazon, SAP, NVidia, Disney.
Each of these companies is already investing many billions today and will do so over the next few years to make the metaverse a reality and to play a central role in it. And not just because they want to grow. But also because some of them have a lot to lose. Facebook and Instagram could go under as social networks if they miss the metaverse. Apple wants and needs a successor for the iPhone. An Apple headset for VR and/or AR has been in development for a long time. Apple’s AR Creation Tools provide the software to create your own virtual world as part of the Metaverse.
And of course, Amazon will not miss the opportunity to create virtual shopping worlds.
Even the old companies like Siemens, BMW, Daimler, all major industrial companies have been developing their products and business with virtual and augmented reality for years. All of this becomes part of the metaverse.
What dangers does the metaverse bring?
The metaverse will be fantastically seductive. And that is at the same time one of the greatest dangers. The more perfect the experience in a virtual world becomes, the greater the risk of addiction. When I can be the beloved, strong, successful hero in the virtual world, who can experience a new fantastic adventure every hour. When I am eternally young there. And if I live an average life in the real world at the same time. Or worse, a difficult life full of problems and conflicts and illness. Then why should I still live in the real world at all? Why should I have a partner? Why have children at all? Thus, it may come to pass that the metaverse will lead us to a completely different society. In the long term, we will find solutions for this. But until then? It is a real danger.
Social media has changed our societies and politics in ways we couldn’t have imagined at first. Without Facebook, Trump probably wouldn’t have become president, the UK would still be in the EU, and distrust among each other wouldn’t be so great. We need to be aware of this: The political indicator of a threat of civil war is frighteningly high in the U.S. right now. Unimaginable. As experiences in the metaverse become even more emotional, it either drives humanity into chaos, or we tame the harmful through regulation and truth technologies like blockchains, smart contracts, and NFTs. Appealing to the good in people will not be enough.
How will the Metaverse change your business?
Like back then with Internet 1.0 and then 2.0. It brings threats to those who realize it too late, and it brings great opportunities to those who participate in time. Mind you, not as early as possible, but in good time.
It’s almost certain that while you’re listening to me right now, there are multiple teams somewhere in this world working to bring your exact industry and business into the metaverse.
In mechanical engineering, you will first design and test your machines in MV before you manufacture the machine. Digital twins are just the beginning. Every physical machine is then just a copy of the digital original. What each machine learns through its application is sent to the digital original, which is thus continually improved.
In the real estate business, the digital original will be decisive from the moment the idea for a building is conceived, the construction and for the entire operating period. BIM, building information modeling, is also just the beginning. And you can already be amazed at how many millions are already being paid for virtual properties today. Unbelievable, but true.
If you run a bakery, you will be able to use artificially intelligent bots from the metaverse in sales. And progressive craft companies will train their apprentices and employees with the help of the Metaverse.
The virtual experience, selection and shopping of both real and digital products will shape the future of retail.
If you are a trainer, coach or teacher, you will experience how the MV can create much more effective experiences that people have been known to use to learn more easily and successfully. And psychotherapists are opening up completely new possibilities for therapies, for example for all kinds of phobias, starting with arachnophobia.
Just as virtually every industry today deals with Internet 1 and 2, in the future every industry will be on Web 3 and thus in the metaverse. If your gut says that’s nonsense, it’s not because it’s really nonsense, but because you probably haven’t had enough experience with virtual reality.
What should I do now?
No one knows exactly how fast the metaverse will develop. But certainly exponentially and thus faster than most believe. Therefore:
- Step: Inform yourself extensively about it – now. Watch the videos and read the articles I linked to in the description.
- Step: Experience it: It’s high time you and your team spent a few hours experimenting with virtual reality and augmented reality. Get VR headsets for everyone on the leadership team.
- Timing: place the MV in the right future horizon for your business.
Horizon 0 is their daily business. The one you probably spend too much time on.
In Horizon 1, you strengthen your current business.
In horizon 2, you build future business.
In horizon 3, you develop opportunities.
– For most companies, the metaverse will still be in horizon 3 today. For some in horizon 2, for few in horizon 1.
– Nowadays, everyone is overloaded, no one lacks tasks. Therefore, there is a risk that you put the metaverse on horizon 3 only because your comfort zone is signaling you that you don’t have time to specifically take care of it right now. This is how tragic failure usually begins. Therefore, get over yourself and apply rational criteria.
– If the MV is on horizon 3 for you in your industry, fine. Then the goal is for you to get informed and develop visionary opportunities with your team without time pressure. You don’t really have to implement anything yet.
– If it’s on Horizon 2, assign two people to research, have conversations to identify the biggest opportunities, work them out, and test them in the field. Get regular reports.
– If you put the Metaverse on Horizon 1, in other words, if you believe that you can use it to strengthen and grow your business today, then it takes an ambitious goal and a dedicated project team.
- Investment: Invest now.
Now is also the time to invest in companies that will benefit from the metaverse. Today, the opportunities are the greatest. This, of course, also increases the risk. There are already several funds investing in the future Internet and the metaverse with more diversification. With a long-term investment horizon, of course.
Do you want to systematically illuminate your opportunities with the Metaverse and other future technologies?
Do you want to future-proof your company as a whole? We made our FUTURE STRATEGY PROGRAM to do just that. Especially for small companies. Let’s talk about whether this is something for you too.
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Have a bright future!