There has been a lot of talk about the metaverse over the last ten months or so. In fact, since last October, when Meta (formerly Facebook) announced it wished to ‘build the metaverse’, there has been a lot of action. Billions of dollars have poured into metaverse-related projects. Moreover, when you read the list of names that created the Metaverse Standards Forum – Meta, Sony, Microsoft, Adobe, Nvidia, among others – you can see it is no niche idea. It’s real, and the money and effort is testament to that.
There is a problem, however: Nobody really agrees on what the metaverse is. The definition is a place where the real world meets the virtual one, but that is open to a lot of interpretation. For instance, if you play the augmented reality game Pokemon Go, you might argue that it offers a metaverse experience. Nevertheless, we are in a situation where there are competing ideas of the metaverse, and it is probably more apt to speak of metaverses, plural.
Many critics don’t believe Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions to create a virtual world where we will work, rest, and play will be realized. But it is clear that many industries can be touched by metaverse-like technology. Below we pick out five that we think will be best placed.
The overwhelming majority of investors in metaverse projects seem to be attracted to gaming. Indeed, Meta’s flagship project, Horizon Worlds, is technically a game. It seems natural enough that this is the case, as VR gaming has been around for a while, so why not metaverse gaming? The main question is whether the quality of VR/AR hardware gets the billions of gamers around the world to put down their Xbox and PlayStation controllers to try something new. Meta’s Oculus was considered the number one gift last Christmas and the accompanying app rose to the top of the App Store, so it is a solid start.
Perhaps even more so than video gaming, online casino (the industry is now known as the iGaming industry) is ripe for disruption. There are several reasons for this, including the structure of live casino games. Does that mean the best online casino in Canada will someday be found in some virtual world? No, not necessarily. But we imagine you might soon be using AR/VR hardware to augment the live casino experience. Imagine, for example, wearing AR glasses that keep you up to date with the card count in blackjack, or sitting at a virtual table to play poker. It’s not a huge leap into the unknown, and that makes it very possible.
Would you allow a surgeon to perform an operation remotely using robotics? Well, it’s already happening. And it is set to become much more widespread. AR/VR technology is helping with remote surgery, as it allows the surgeon to be much more precise. Of course, there are more possible uses for the metaverse and healthcare. We already have telemedicine, so why not take a seat in the virtual doctor’s office and look at them face to face?
Manchester City, one of the world’s most successful soccer teams (and one of the richest) is planning for metaverse experiences for its fans. One such idea is to create a virtual stadium to replicate its Etihad Stadium. The idea is that fans can experience the thrills of gameday, alongside other fans, without traveling to the ‘real’ stadium. It’s but one of several ideas for sports in the metaverse, which should astutely use AR/VR to augment the fan experience.
All you need to do to understand metaverse shopping is look at the investments in technology made by the social media app Snapchat. Snap has been banging the drum for AR/VR shopping for a couple of years now, even running events where you could virtually try on clothes before you buy. The technology is nascent, but we will soon be in an era where you will always know that a dress fits or what a sofa looks like in your living room before you buy. Ikea has already delivered on the latter, but it is set to be more sophisticated in the coming years.