Extended reality (XR) technologies bridge the gap between the digital and physical world, providing users with immersive and realistic experiences. Utilizing computer graphics, eye tracking and haptic feedback, XR tech allows users to interact with computer-generated environments as if they were in the real world. Whether exploring a virtual world (VR) or augmenting the reality (AR) around them, XR provides users with unprecedented immersion.
As the hardware and software needed to create and experience XR become more affordable and accessible, XR technologies are proliferating. Many experts believe that XR will eventually become mainstream, with businesses and individuals using it daily in their work and personal lives.
How does the metaverse fit into all of these?
The metaverse is a shared virtual space that people can access using XR-capable technologies. It is a three-dimensional environment created using computer graphics, rendered by graphics processing units, and experienced through various electronic devices that offer varying levels of immersion. Within this space, there are virtual constructs where people can interact with each other and with digital content like NFTs in a realistic and immersive way. NFTs are non-fungible tokens. They are digital assets that are unique and non-interchangeable. NFTs are often used to represent digital art, collectibles, and in-virtual reality items.
The metaverse is a concept that is still loosely defined; however, the combination of advances in semiconductors, microelectronics, and high-speed internet has brought what once was fiction to reality. There are many different levels of immersion in the metaverse for users, from simple passive interactions on chat rooms and web-based interfaces to entirely virtual experiences.
The level of immersion is determined by the electronic device’s capabilities to access the metaverse. For example, a PC or mobile phone with a primary web-based interface would allow users to see and interact with avatars and digital content and a virtual reality headset lets users experience the metaverse in a more immersive way.
The metaverse has several implications for enterprise companies can create new markets and business models that utilize the metaverse’s unique capabilities. Additionally, companies should develop new skills and training to ensure their employees can operate in this new environment and its multimodal interfaces. Businesses should be aware of the potential disruptions to their traditional business models based on physical interactions that may result from adopting metaverse technology. For example, the metaverse may enable new ways of marketing and selling products that are impossible in the physical world or allow new transportation methods, such as avatar-based teleportation.
The value creation of XR and the metaverse
As XR technologies become more affordable and accessible, they are gradually becoming mainstream. Businesses and individuals use their marketing, product design, employee training simulations, customer service and accessibility, among other purposes. Even though some challenges need to be addressed—including the cost of hardware and software, the need for high-speed internet and privacy and security concerns—the potential applications of XR technologies are vast.
Employees will be able to work from anywhere in the world, with social interactions being conducted in virtual reality. Companies can run their digital twin, a digital replica of a physical object or system, used for various purposes such as real-time monitoring or managing that object or system, enabling a direct pulse of business performance. Digital twins also allow customers to take virtual tours of products before purchasing them. It is worth noting that the line between the physical and digital worlds will blur as XR technologies become more widespread. This could significantly impact how physical markets are organized, commerce, and the economy. As a result, some businesses might opt to exist only virtually.
As a new boundless market comes to life, businesses can’t ignore it.
The rise of the metaverse will likely have several implications for businesses regarding opportunities and challenges.
The popularity of the metaverse is likely to increase demand for XR devices and content, leading to increased sales of XR-capable devices, content and investment in XR technology.
On the other hand, the mainstream inclusion of the metaverse will also likely increase competition among companies currently in the XR space. This could lead to lower prices and increased innovation as companies strive to differentiate their offerings. Additionally, the metaverse will likely attract new customers, such as those interested in virtual reality gaming or socializing, leading to increased sales and market share for companies addressing these new customer segments.
The metaverse will likely change how we interact with the world. We may increasingly interact with others through avatars or virtual representations of ourselves. This could lead to the need to develop avatar-based versions driven by human representatives or nonhuman avatars managed by artificial intelligence and natural language processing like Alexa, Cortana or Siri.
As the metaverse grows in popularity, businesses need to ensure that their products and services are accessible to everyone. This means creating equitable experiences for all users, regardless of gender, location, economic status or social status. Some experts believe that the metaverse will eventually become the dominant platform for social interaction, work and entertainment. As a result, businesses that don’t adopt metaverse technology may be disadvantaged. Additionally, the metaverse may exacerbate existing inequalities, such as the digital divide. Companies must be aware of these issues and ensure that their products and services are accessible to everyone
The challenges of any new technology are indistinguishable from magic.
The applications of XR technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way companies operate and change the way we work and live.
At APCO Worldwide’s Creative Studio, we are excited to help clients achieve the potential of XR and the metaverse by providing them with a full range of services, from conceptualization, strategy and planning to implementation and management. We deeply understand these technologies and how they can be used to create business value and immersive experiences that engage, connect and communicate with people.
As we continue to work with these technologies, we must remember to understand the business applications, implications, value and risks associated with these technologies. Doing so can create a better, more equitable and inclusive world for everyone.