Metaverse isn’t Dead, its Future is Still Bright: Analysts

Although the implementation of the metaverse did not come as quickly as anticipated and was “doused” by generative AI, the concept is not yet dead and has a bright future.

Growth opportunities are still plenty for the metaverse concept to thrive for businesses in the long term, according to analysts’ projections.

One thing at a time

Unlike the misconception that the metaverse is “dead,” Gartner analyst Marty Resnick thinks otherwise. The concept is still alive, but the excitement was overtaken by generative AI, which dominated conversations in the tech industry following the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November last year.

This is normal, according to Resnick, as people do not want to be swamped with many things at a time.

“People tend to focus on one thing at a time; generative AI was such a big shiny object, such a big disruption, that it became the focus,” Resnick told VentureBeat.

“The metaverse in the short term seemed to be a little bit disappointing.”

According to Resnick, this is what made people think the metaverse “is not just passé, but ‘dead’.”

However, experts like Resnick say the metaverse definition and use case are only being reimagined beyond the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” concept.

“Stop thinking about it within this virtual world context like VR. It’s more about new interactions between the physical and digital worlds,” Resnick added.

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The opportunities

Although Meta lost billions on metaverse investment after changing its name from Facebook in October 2021 to reflect its confidence in the concept, it’s not all doom and gloom yet. The metaverse economy is projected to grow to about $400 billion from $48 billion in 2022, with the potential to generate up to $5 trillion in impact by the close of this decade.

According to VentureBeat, some experts think the Apple Vision Pro version 1.0, which is expected early in 2024, may reignite curiosity in the metaverse following a year of being dominated by generative AI.

Resnick holds that, as opposed to pure VR, “where users are immersed in worlds with no rules,” the metaverse will become part of the physical world. This will be achieved through augmented reality and extended reality.

“The biggest opportunity for the metaverse is in the physical world, as opposed to digital ones,” said Resnick.

“We will go into the virtual world for certain experiences, and the virtual world will come to the physical world for certain experiences,” Resnick forecasted.

Enterprise and industrial metaverses

According to VentureBeat, for enterprises, the metaverse can provide opportunities for augmented learning and development. Here, users interact through virtual offices.

Big financial service providers like JP Morgan and Citibank have already launched virtual onboarding and internships.

“A class of new employees coming in can get to know each other, collaborate, and connect very quickly,” Resnick explained.

Resnick further explained that enterprises can present issues like harassment and racism in a manner that feels more real and does not come across as scripted. This can be more impactful as well as instill more empathy than traditional training.

“It feels more like an earned, learned experience than something you passively learned about or were informed about,” Bill Briggs, Deloitte CTO, told VentureBeat.

“The retention and recall are just higher. Your brain is storing it in a different place.”

Opportunities are also huge in industrial settings, as people can interact with machines to design, build, and improve manufacturing systems.

Sensors, AI, VR, and digital twin technologies can provide simulations and real-world augmentation in areas like operations, logistics, and warehousing.

Workers can see information from several systems integrated with “real-time data and real-world controls,” according to Briggs, adding that they can fine-tune production flow and run hundreds “or even thousands of scenarios.”

“They can have the ability to pivot with the future of their product and industry,” said Briggs.

“The conventional idea of the metaverse was this divorce from reality where we have a digital avatar to convene, communicate, and cavort,” but the industrial metaverse “is seamlessly blending physical and digital,” said Briggs.

“It’s the ability to shrink time and space, which is exciting.”

The challenges

However, full adoption of the metaverse now comes with its own challenges, such as limited access to VR and spatial technologies.

For example, users will need headwear that is like “typical glasses you wear every day, as opposed to big cyberpunk glasses,” according to Resnick.

He added that the concept will also need social buy-in, which should come with the right hardware.

“If people are embarrassed to wear it, it’s not going to be accepted,” said Resnick.

Briggs concurred, saying, “The idea of walking around with a computer strapped to your face is not exactly attractive.”

Additionally, users also want to interact with something that feels more realistic, such that “graphics and overlays will need to be responsive and on point.”

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