Interest in the work of decentralized autonomous organizations – builders of cryptocurrencies, Web3 platforms and gaming projects – has been growing steadily in recent years. Investors and users alike are keen to tap into the potential of the emerging metaverse. Let’s take a peek at the future.
As Web3 creates the technical infrastructure for greater collaboration in the virtual world, the metaverse is no longer a far-off vision of the future but a soon-to-be reality. But what is it exactly? In the absence of a standard definition, let’s put it into our own words: Essentially, the metaverse is a virtual world that exists alongside the physical world. It’s somewhere people can exist and act digitally. It’s a place where 3D virtual worlds integrate, from online games to virtual music concerts, from online learning platforms to digital twins of factories – and much more.
Three metaverse narratives
To guide our clients, help them cut through the noise and empower them to make decisions that add value, we distinguish between three main metaverse narratives:
- Consumer metaverse: Intended for individuals to use for personal entertainment and socializing (e.g. Roblox, Decentraland).
- Enterprise metaverse: Intended for companies to enable immersive collaboration and co-creation at work (e.g. Meta Horizon Workrooms, Microsoft Mesh).
- Industrial metaverse: Intended for industrial or manufacturing use to design and optimize real-world systems like machines and factories, buildings and cities, networks and transport systems (e.g. Nvidia Omniverse).
Digital transformation was about adopting digital technologies in our lives. It shaped the way we share information and permeated pretty much every aspect of our daily lives. The metaverse can be considered a digital transformation of sorts and the impact is set to be just as great. There are many polemics about everything the metaverse is and will be. The bottom line is that it will be an extension of the physical world to a level the user will be willing to adopt.
There are many competing visions of the metaverse, and they all have the potential to change life as we know it. The metaverse has various use cases in consumer, enterprise and government applications. Overall, it will have a profound impact on areas such as entertainment, shopping, remote work, finance, manufacturing, city governance and R&D. It will bring about changes to economies and business models that may lead to the emergence of new ways of doing business.
Open questions and challenges
It’s quite hard to predict when exactly the metaverse – an extension of the physical world into a virtual space – will materialize. Solutions to significant technical issues still need to be found, and software and hardware to support augmented and virtual reality will need to become better and more affordable. On top of this, the emergence of these virtual universes is accompanied by a series of ethical and legal questions. Are morally reprehensible experiments acceptable in the virtual world? How should we react to deviant virtual behavior? What data is collected through these metaverse systems? Where does that data go and how is it used? These are only some of the challenges that need to be addressed first for the metaverse to become a safe virtual space, in particular through the development of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks.