Many investments are currently being made in the Metaverse, this alternative world where you can work, play and meet other people without leaving your home. But will the rise of this vast virtual space blur the limits of reality and redefine the way we consume and communicate?
What is the Metaverse?
Everyone only talks about the Metaverse and the concept may seem recent, but in reality, the idea appeared in 1992 in a science fiction novel. It’s hard to define exactly what the Metaverse means because the technology behind it is constantly evolving to include many aspects of virtual reality. Simply put, it’s a global digital world that exists alongside the real world.
The company Somnium Space is one of the first “open source” Metaverse platforms to hit the market. We spoke in video with its founder and CEO Artur Sychov to learn more about what it’s like to live, work and play in this alternative environment.
“When you’re in virtual reality [comme c’est son cas au moment où il s’adresse à nous]you are totally connected to the environment: I am here mentally and I have the physical perception of it,” he points out, “because with everything I see, my brain and my eyes make me believe that I am inside this space.”
A growing economy
Somnium Space has been one of the pioneering platforms of its kind, but many other competitors have emerged recently. Facebook has become Meta, with the idea of making the Metaverse an important part of its business strategy. But its counterparts that are Microsoft, Alphabet, Roblox or NVIDIA have also invested heavily in this virtual space.
The economy of the Metaverse promises a wide range of revenue sources: according to some estimates, this market could reach 800 billion dollars in just two years. What could bring $3 trillion to the global economy over the next decade.
But the Metaverse is not limited to entertainment and video games. It can also give companies the opportunity to find virtual solutions that can be applied in the real world. These solutions are exactly what the audit firm PwC hopes to create thanks to its brand new technology lab in the Middle East.
“At PwC, we view the Metaverse as evolution, not revolution,” says Rahaf Abutarbush, laboratory technician at PwC Middle East. “We are very agile with this concept, we are aware that things change, that the needs of our customers can evolve,” she assures.
Harnessing robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and more, PwC’s tech experts craft innovative solutions in their EmTech Labs equipped with tools that can push the boundaries of the physical world without losing touch with reality. ‘human.
In the Metaverse, you can do almost anything: hold business meetings, organize large-scale collaborations, give keynote presentations or, in this case, media interviews.
“Our customers are no longer content to come to see us for advice or Powerpoint presentations, for example,” explains Stephen Anderson, who leads PwC’s strategy and markets team in the Middle East. “They want to see things in action and emerging technologies are important from that perspective,” he says.
What about security?
The popularity of virtual reality raises concerns about its impact on human interactions, social isolation and mental health. Kids are spending more and more time online and in the Metaverse, the lack of clear rules can make it a dangerous place. How can platforms tackle this problem?
Tami Bhaumik is Vice President of Civility and Partnerships at Robloxa global platform with over 40 million daily users.
“We are a technology platform that allows people to create experiences and publish them on our platform,” recalls Tami Bhaumik. “You need to have an environment where people are courteous to be able to fully express your imagination,” she insists. “Often parents ask us, ‘What is Roblox? How can I ensure the safety of my children? How do I know if it’s safe?” I realized there was not only a responsibility, but also an opportunity to inform, given the size of our community,” she acknowledges.
Tami Bhaumik says his company is committed to imposing rules on these virtual reality platforms, but also to providing its young users and their educators with the skills to take advantage of the virtual game revolution in safety.