“You have a 19 year old daughter and a 21 year old son, how can you advocate for Metaverse where our youth will spend all their time in a digital world and less and less time in the real world” I was asked.
Let me be very clear, I am not a fan of Meta’s concept of Metaverse as ‘the next evolution in social connection’ unless there is value and purpose - for example to people who are geographically isolated, those housebound (injury/disability/introverted/immobile etc), people who are living in towns or communities where they are marginalized (eg a transgender person living in a small town where they are not understood or supported). Town Halls or team building events for companies who have workers geographically dispersed. Bringing people together to share cultural stories. Providing socialization opportunities for our aging population who are immobile. To name a few...there are many use cases here (including the obvious - games).
But for normal day to day socializing - absolutely not.
Metaverse technology is so much more than a digital world where people connect socially. The Australian Metaverse Advisory Council, of which I am a founding member, was recently formed for this exact reason, to advocate, educate and advise Australian businesses, consumers and government departments on the benefits and challenges of the Metaverse.
While I am not confident of the word ‘Metaverse’ surviving, the underlying technologies will absolutely continue to evolve to create the next generation of the internet. The concept of merging the real and virtual worlds is central to the Metaverse, utilizing spatial computing by leveraging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence to seamlessly integrate digital and physical elements, allowing users to interact in real-time - accessible via VR/AR/Mobile/Desktop/(MR) headsets.
So what do I see as being the top 10 biggest Metaverse opportunities for businesses right now?
Create immersive experiences that enable people to interact and engage with your brand. Adapting to the preferences of Generation Z and Generation Alpha (who will not be ‘advertised to’) involves storytelling, gamification, and fostering genuine connections through authenticity.
I know it seems counter intuitive, but Metaverse provides more opportunity to provide a genuine personal connection with your customers in areas such as retail, banking, insurance, government, airlines etc.
Leverage the Metaverse for faster proficiency, reduced onboarding time, improved customer service, enhanced workplace safety, decreased turnover, cost-effective operations, and an efficient means of quickly imparting organizational culture.
Building digital replicas of physical environments allows for real-time data processing, leading to improved operational efficiency, cost savings, better decision-making, risk mitigation, and increased innovation. Industries such as mining, manufacturing, healthcare, aerospace, banking, smart cities, and energy stand to benefit significantly.
Metaverse technologies enable immersive, accessible, and personalized experiences for mental health support, physical fitness, stress reduction, and community engagement, fostering holistic well-being. With an ageing population we can help reduce issues related to boredom in the elderly through immersive experiences.
One of my favorite use cases for AR - bringing history to life (Picture yourself standing amidst the ruins of Pompeii, witnessing it as a vibrant active city, or standing at The Rocks and observing Sydney Harbour in Indigenous times)
By building virtual replicas of historical sites, artifacts, and artworks, we can also allow people to explore and experience cultural treasures that may be inaccessible or at risk in the physical world.
We are at an exciting moment in time where the intersection between film and games is growing, providing amazing opportunities for audiences to participate and engage with the characters and story, rather than passively watch. We will see more cross genre collaboration in the arts as this intersection grows, and increased opportunity for immersive interactive storytelling.
So many use cases in diagnostics, treatments, and therapy.
Remote Maintenance and Support:
Enhance efficiency in remote maintenance and support services through augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality (MR) technologies.
Overcome geographical barriers in education by combining the benefits of small community education with digitally accessible immersive teaching on a broader scale through the Metaverse.
While there is certainly an element of social connection to Metaverse, my interest is the value and purpose it provides to business, which will further evolve as smart glasses hit mass adoption.
In answer to my friend's question: No, I do not want my 21 year old son spending his days in a Virtual World. But for my 86 year old father with mobility issues - if he can use VR to explore destinations he will never see in real life. To continue his global adventures from the safety and comfort of his own home, then I am all in favour.