The year 2023 started off on a high note for metaverse champions and discussions ranged whether the industrial and engineering world or retail brands or non-fungible tokens or travel and tourism, among others, would be the primary drivers for its adoption. Announcement of ChatGPT based on Generative AI and COP28’s challenging review of the global adoption of sustainability measures overshadowed developments in the metaverse in the last quarter of the year.
As we move into 2024 with continuing innovations and price reductions in augmented and virtual reality headsets and immersive experiences, we see gradual acknowledgement that the metaverse will blend into what we now term as 3D Internet. The other important development is the merging of the virtual metaverse into the physical real world, adopting and displaying the rules of the physical world.
Just as artificial intelligence is impacting every segment of the industrial and human world, artificial intelligence is also being incorporated into the metaverse. And similar to all digital platforms, the metaverse is expected to do its part in providing solutions and displaying and boosting the journey towards lower carbon emissions and circular economies.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the overall metaverse market is projected to reach $800 billion by 2024. Projections by the Analysis Group also estimate that the global metaverse economy would be worth over $3 trillion within a decade, contributing 2.8 per cent to the global GDP.
Here are some of the new capabilities we can anticipate in the industrial metaverse as we progress through 2024.
The metaverse is a virtual platform for large scale industrial projects, smart cities, urban planning and simulations. With the emphasis on reducing carbon emissions, sustainability and circular economies, city planners can visualize the most optimum energy consumption and production designs keeping long term objectives in mind using digital twins and other embedded intelligent data models. Gamification is a new addition to boost user engagement and understanding in a simulation scenario.
Data hungry applications like digital twins supporting the metaverse will feed on data from two sources. Real time data feeds will be provided by Internet of Things, deployed across engineering, industrial and urban landscape as part of smart projects, smart city and smart building initiatives. Historical data related to weather patterns and population demographics, for example, and other open data sources will help to build intelligent supporting models inside the metaverse.
The biggest strength of the metaverse in 2024 will be its ability to integrate and allow real time collaboration by remote avatars in every related field. Sustainability and energy experts can view the models and share their recommendations. Engineers and architects can share their design and material recommendations, while urban councillors can view the large scale impact and plan for supporting legislation.
End user acceptance
Complex industrial, engineering, and urban projects can be better understood by their stakeholders and end users when presented in the metaverse. With the addition of artificial intelligence and large scale data models supporting digital twin simulations, as well as integration with real time data feeds, immersive experiences offered by the metaverse begin to match real life situations much more closely. This helps in better appreciation of the projects by stakeholders as well as successful closure.
AI and machine learning
Integration of artificial intelligence within 3D Internet is a critical driver generating much better immersive and real life experiences. Integration of artificial intelligence is boosting the addition of the following innovative features into the metaverse.
Responsive virtual assistants
These virtual assistants are managed by machine learning. They adapt and learn from user interactions, anticipating user needs, offering individual recommendations, while continuously improving the quality of experience.
Natural language processing
Using natural language processing, virtual avatars can be more realistic, with context-aware conversations, and human-like interactions, which are more socially dynamic.
Natural language processing and advanced artificial intelligence models are helping virtual assistants and avatars to become socially aware. They can now detect and interpret user emotions using voice tones and facial expressions. They are supported by extensive intelligent and learning, decision making trees and their behaviour is not random.
One of the biggest benefits for the metaverse will be the inbuilt intelligence to recognize and save the behaviour of avatars and learn from their engagements. Artificial intelligence algorithms understand user behaviour and boost personalised experiences within the metaverse. This could include personalised content in the form of objects, lighting, spaces, responses, and even the type of gaming challenges, and so on. This is known as personalised content curation driven by intelligent models.
According to Grand View Research, the augmented reality industry was valued at nearly $39 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of close to 40 per cent from 2023 to 2030.
As we move forward into 2024, the rule of the game will be to increasingly adapt and integrate the real world into the immersive world of the metaverse. Enterprises should partner with specialised solution providers to keep abreast of these intelligent adaptations as they unfold across 2024.
The better and faster that this blend of the physical world with the virtual world takes place, the more successful will be the metaverse in successfully generating business and commercial returns.
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