Jacob Matthew has been working in the United Arab Emirates for the past 23 years having worked in Aramco’s Ras Tanura refinery a year prior. He has worked a Big 4 consultancy firm for over 18 years and is currently working for the government sector in Abu Dhabi. Jacob has worked and consulted in several industries, including Financial Services, Oil and Gas, Government, and Education. His key expertise lies in Strategy, Policy & Innovation; Centralizing and management of IT function across multiple countries; Cyber Security; Setup and management of IT Shared Services; Migration to cloud-based solutions; Offshoring to third party; Virtualization; and Disaster Recovery.
The word metaverse comes from the Greek word “meta” meaning “beyond”, and “verse”, meaning “universe”. Thus, the metaverse translates into “Beyond our universe” which is quite accurate since this technology platform is all in digital and not in our actual physical world. Metaverse was coined in 1992, when a sci-fi novel author, Neal Stephenson, coined it in his novel ‘Snow Crash.’ He had described the metaverse as a virtual world where the main character of his story could escape from the real world.
Metaverse is also known as Web 3 which is the third generation of the world wide web. Web 1 had static content where information was shared that could be only read. With Web 2 we were introduced to dynamic content where contents were changed dynamically. Web 3.0 encompasses allows us to access data in a decentralised manner and this has resulted in the explosion of new technologies such as Blockchain, Non-Fungible tokens (NFTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) etc.
We can access the metaverse through Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and other technologies. We can also use our personal AR glasses, computer, or smartphone to access the metaverse. Gartner the technology consulting firm predict that 25% of the world population will spend at least an hour daily on Metaverse by 2026. The metaverse is projected to reach $5 trillion economy by 2030, according to the latest report from McKinsey & Company.
Augmented Reality (AR) merges real world with virtual world. In AR, the real-world image is augmented / supplemented with additional data that could include pricing, weather, GPS etc. A practical application is that using AR we could see if the furniture that we wish to buy would match with our sofa and room layout. We can experience AR these days on our mobile devices such as phones and tablets. The metaverse will be driven by augmented reality, through personal avatars. Avatars are digital images we can create or buy to represent us on the Metaverse.
Virtual Reality (VR) gives an immersive virtual – not real experience using 3D technology that use headsets to generate videos, sounds, images that replicate create an imaginary world that is close to the real world. VR has been around for a while but has not been mass adopted but with the adoption of Metaverse this is expected to change driven by adoption in enterprises across the world.
The metaverse is not a single system but several systems setup by their developers, each with its own rules and capabilities. Popular examples of the metaverse include, Decentraland, Roblox, and The Sandbox. There are several new systems being developed by different companies and this adds on to complexity.
Digital Twins are virtual representation of people or objects in the metaverse. Digital twins make it easier for us to work together, anticipate issues, reduce downtime, and open new possibilities. They enable us to simulate a problem and test a solution on a computer rather than in the real world and have huge potential in the Metaverse. With the help of sensors this technology can synchronize the digital environment with the physical world and vice versa. Any change in the real world is reflected in the digital representation (the twin) and feedback updated in the other direction.
Like the real world, we can buy assets in Metaverse using Cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies generated that can be used to buy goods in the Metaverse made possible through Blockchain technology. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.
Ownership of digital assets can be proven using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that use public blockchain network to prove ownership. They are unique and cannot be edited, which makes them ideal for representing items in virtual worlds. NFTs can be used to represent anything from in-game items to digital art. NFTs can thus be used to create and sell assets allowing content owners to generate revenue.
Metaverse also generate huge amounts of data that need to be stored and require high speed networks for effective usage which are technical challenges impacting mass adoption. Metaverse require modern day technology with low latency and high-speed network that not all end users or countries have and thus broadening the gap between the haves and have nots.
The metaverse is still in its early days. Gartner predict that Metaverse will mature only in 2030 although number of sectors including gaming, education, real estate, E-commerce, government are already using them, and Enterprises have also started adoption Metaverse for remote meetings.
There are several countries that are adopting Metaverse technologies including US, China, Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Japan etc.
Enterprises need to start the planning for future impact of Metaverse and technologies enabling the metaverse – including Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Blockchain and Big Data and gauge the impact to their future operations whether it is labour or office spaces besides the high-speed network investment.