During the “Dare to Shape the Future” initiative, Swiss students worked with the support of KPMG coaches on bold predictions about the metaverse in 2043. The following prediction was developed by Natalie Kallay and Luca Wild from ETH Zurich and the University of Basel.
Today, a growing number of people care less about others despite rapid technological advances that allow them to become more connected with their peers than ever. In 2043, the metaverse will have reversed this trend by enabling people and organizations to share their emotions with others in a new digital format called MetaSense.
In 20 years, we will share and let others experience stories by MetaSense – a next-generation, digital multimedia format that couples traditional media like audio, photo, and video with emotions, which will be streamed within the metaverse. Powered by innovative technologies such as empathetic computational systems, MetaSense will be able to simulate the feelings other people are feeling and thus give us the ability to sense other people’s emotions. This will create new, completely immersive storytelling experiences where we will be able to interact with images, sounds, and feeling from real data.
This new format of media will enable us to share with others the experience of our most intimate feelings, such as our ultimate happiness when reaching the finish line of an ultra-marathon, our intense sadness when losing a loved one, or the electrifying feeling before a major global event, among others. It will allow us to unlock a new era of entertainment by letting us sense the emotions of a chosen movie character, resulting in a fully immersive movie experience. It will even give us the opportunity to buy and emotionally live through extreme adventure stories that we would otherwise, for various reasons, never experience ourselves, such as reaching the top of Mount Everest.
Why did this happen?
People have been telling stories for thousands of years – not just for entertainment, but because storytelling is a fundamental part of being human. Stories allow us to see patterns within chaos, derive meaning from randomness, and understand the world and each other. They help us create emotional connections, through which we can gain a deeper understanding of other people’s lives, a process collectively referred to as empathy that consequently allows us to take the lessons others have learned and apply them to our own world – a form of existential problem-solving.
While stories themselves are universal and the desire to connect with others remains a basic human need, the way we tell and experience stories has changed in step with technological development. Various forms of media have evolved over time, often broadly stemming from a previous form. Soon, social networks, video games, mobile devices, and other forms of interactive media – such as virtual reality – will no longer be able to satisfy the needs of users.
Accordingly, MetaSense will be a logical evolution in the context of technological progress, drawing on technologies that already exist while addressing the need to rebuild empathy in a society where we are becoming increasingly consumed by self-gratitude instead of focusing on ending the suffering of others.
MetaSense will open a completely new market within the metaverse where emotions can be shared with others both privately and publicly. This will impact various industries, especially the creative business sector, and will create many new business opportunities.
The entertainment industry will see a rise of offerings, as all current forms of entertainment may be expanded to complete emotional experiences. Movies may be streamed in .mts instead of .mp4 or .blend and social media posts may transmit emotions. The advertising industry will become truly customer-centric, as MetaSense will allow advertisers to empathize with customers on a new level. A new era of experiential marketing will dawn as the audience of an ad may now interact both visually and emotionally with a company’s product and what it stands for. The healthcare industry will gain access to a new range of therapy methodologies and the relationships between patients and physicians may be improved since physicians will be able to truly understand how their patients feel and optimize treatment accordingly. Even the education sector will benefit greatly from new forms of empathetic and immersive learning – allowing for greater understanding of various topics such as cultural diversity and acquiring interpersonal skills.
Overall, MetaSense will help us understand our complex world more holistically. Feeling other people’s emotions isn’t inherently good and can lead us to make bad decisions despite our best intentions. However, combining MetaSense with our intelligence and experience will give us the ability to care and therefore drive positive change in this world – a change that is truly needed.