Metaverse’s Potential Transcends Gaming, Commerce, Society


The concept of “the metaverse” has not fully coalesced, but it is beginning to take shape as an interconnected space that “blurs the line between the digital world and the physical,” noted Nicolas Sauvage, in kicking off the first session of TDK Ventures’ Digital Transformation event called DX Week. Sauvage, TDK Ventures’ president, moderated the session focusing on the ways the metaverse will let people do things they can’t do in the physical world and the ways it will augment and improve our physical environment.

DX Week brings together creative minds from industry, academia, startups and venture capital to explore how emerging technologies can be directed toward improving our global outlook. Held over one week, the sessions asked the experts to weigh in on the most impactful innovations that society can realize within the next five years and the most challenging innovations that will disrupt the market a decade from now. We will address each of these questions in turn, starting with this article on the effects of the metaverse in the coming five years.

While many observers picture the internet as an all-consuming MMORPG akin to the OASIS of Ready Player One, DX week panellists set the bar higher. For instance, Magic Leap Chief Technology Officer Julie Larson-Green said enterprise offers a strong starting point for unleashing the metaverse’s creativity potential.

“Instead of having technology that takes you out of the physical world or takes your attention away from the task at hand, it helps you stay present and gives you superpowers in perceiving the world around you — hearing things through spacial audio or seeing a heads-up display in context with the work you’re doing,” she said. “The work world is where I think the metaverse’s usefulness will land first. We can use 3D information to perform surgery. Before you would be looking at a 3D image on a 2D screen.”

Pearly Chen, vice president at HTC said simpler, more advanced tools are expediting metaverse functionality on the business side by empowering companies to develop, scale, and adapt simulation modules faster and less expensively. Companies now can use creator and authoring tools in low- and no-code environments to build lessons and mini-courses to train workers in hard and soft skills.

Amber Allen, founder and CEO of Double A Labs and a self-described gamer girl, said her company is working on ways to bring the masses to the metaverse.

“What is the bridge product that will open the business world to experience the possibilities? You’ve got doctors working with AR and college students learning with VIVE headsets and simulations. How do I get the rest of the world that may not be as tech-savvy to understand why they love it? Building products in 2D with 3D elements helps the interaction because corporate executives are able to bring in some of the products that they are comfortable using inside the digital platform.”

Edgar Auslander senior director and head of strategic partnerships and intelligence at Meta, (formerly Facebook) cautioned against trying to develop one-size-fits-all metaverse tools and applications.

“I’m not sure we should contrast AR, VR, games, and so on. They all fit different purposes,” he explained. “For enterprise, people are paid to wear the haptic gear and headsets. But in the consumer world, people pay to wear the equipment. There are very different devices and use cases per segment. We may not be able to have a universal approach that is immersive, and looks good, and is applicable in both AR and VR.”

Tae Ashida, head of the Japanese fashion house Jun Ashida, presented her 2022 spring/summer collection movie using a volumetric video system.

“The possibilities are eternal,” she said. “I brought only one model into a greenscreen studio to make the video. Each time she would wear a dress, walk 14 steps, and in four seconds, the technology enabled users to control the action. They could see any angle, any perspective. That’s something you could never do in real life. If you want to dress your avatar, you can create your own designs. It’s easy in the metaverse, unlike real-life, where you have to know how to make patterns and put them together.”

She said those limitations do not exist in the metaverse.

Auslander agreed, noting that the technologies Ashida used to express her creativity may not be appropriate for other business models and verticals. Bridging the enterprise world to the gaming world, for instance, maybe a fool’s errand. Each segment, industry, and pursuit may require discrete solutions to accomplish their diverse objectives for the metaverse and to get there while adhering to varying societal rules and pricing structures.

Brittan Heller a fellow at the Atlantic Council, picked up on the access theme and the need to customize metaverse functionality. Her previous work involved digitizing hate crime statistics into a 3D map and using it to train law enforcement trainers in the VR environment.

“Using their personalized experiences and interactives really made them engage with the technology. Not one person who went inside the experience did not get something completely new out of it, even if they had training for 20 years,” she said. “So, this is different from enterprise training. It’s more about getting this technology out there to schools, civil servants, and members of society. I would love to see companies give education licenses not tied to the enterprise license. It would be good for the companies because it would get more users onboard.”

Larson-Green said the metaverse’s greatest benefit lies in its ability to bring people together, no matter the purpose. It doesn’t matter which technologies it employs, so long as it allows for collaboration and fellowship.

“I think about it in terms of the place we are in rather than whether we’re using AR or VR,” she said. We’re not all together. We’re not trying to meet in the physical world. We’re meeting in the virtual world to perform a task or play a game. Then we have the ‘augmented place,’ where we are occupying and augmenting the world where we exist. Then there is the in-between scenario, the transported place. Here, many people may be in the physical, augmented space and want to transport someone into that space to ask an expert or see what I see. The metaverse is what connects all that content in a way people can use it,” she said.”

Rio Kurokawa, director of Power Systems and Technology at IBM, said the metaverse’s technology, accessibility, and consistency issues will work themselves out.

“Just as the internet began with numerous local ways to connect from local area networks which were then collected into wide area networks, creating several layers offering perfect connections. Consumers and businesses eventually came to expect base layers to provide the best connectivity,” he explained. “Then we demanded a presentation layer to use the same protocol TCP IP. Similarly, the metaverse has diverse technical layers and user-experiences — devices, 3D applications, logic, AI, and data itself — on network connections. One day I expect the communities — gaming, industry leaders, business developers, and users will find a de facto protocol as common to connect with each other based on accessibility.”

Kurokawa also took the lead when the discussion turned to moderating the metaverse and keeping it safe, especially for children.

Our attitude towards kids is paramount because soon they will start creating the world,” he said. “Negative media depictions and commentaries on the metaverse have begun to emerge. They intimate that the metaverse could create versions of users that “make decisions that you would not make [in real life]. Some versions of yourself might be more monstrous than others.”

He said these warnings are similar to the backlash against video games’ perceived dark sides.

“We grapple with lots of problems. It is natural to require a place to forget reality,” Kurokawa said. “Kids need a place to recover themselves. They play online games because they are fun, and they can make plans and feel enthusiasm for what they want to be.”

He said the metaverse allows society to expand young people’s horizons and expose them to careers and educational endeavours they may wish to explore. Online game players are well-trained pilots in 3D worlds and potential 3D graphics developers of the future.

Allen said like video games, the metaverse will bring exponentially more benefits than problems.

“I have been a gamer since little kid, and because of it I have friends in Germany and all over the world,” she said. “eSports and gaming give users the potential to choose their own adventure in the business world, learning, and connecting with others. Like anything, we will want to set up parameters, but I have seen how the gaming space can bring the world together. Kids will be able to use the metaverse to connect the dots between what they love and the technologies they are built on.”

Chen agreed. “We are all familiar with the dystopian view where we let the real world rot while we lose ourselves in the metaverse,” she acknowledged. “But I believe the metaverse will build a future in a world we want our children to grow up into. One where everyone can create and unlock a fuller and more intense human engagement.”

Like its previous Energy Week forum, TDK presented DX Week to facilitate lively discussion and the dissemination of valuable information. Our objective in designing this event was to inspire a new generation of inventors and entrepreneurs who will meet digital transformation challenges head-on and leverage the possibilities it presents for the betterment of society in general. We sincerely hope the information presented during DX Week will inspire startups and investors to identify opportunities ripe for exploration and development.

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