- The metaverse is best thought of as a more immersive incarnation of the internet itself: “internet plus” as opposed to “reality minus,” says Deloitte.
- Technologies such as augmented and virtual reality are transforming the metaverse from specialized tech to enterprise tool — potentially paving the way to new business models.
- The spatial web is likely to blur the lines between physical and virtual environments further, paving the way for ambient “glass-less” experiences and, eventually, brain-computer interfaces.
Our mediation with the internet is morphing from rectangular glass screens to something more immersive — and invasive. CES 2023 was a great place to explore the latest ideas in visual and vocal web interfaces, which are needed, says consultant Deloitte, for companies to build business models activated in the metaverse.
In its 2023 Future Trends report, Deloitte says business leaders should consider the metaverse not as a diminished proxy for in-person experiences but instead as an enriched alternative to email, text chat, and heads in square boxes. In other words, the metaverse is best thought of as a more immersive incarnation of the internet itself: “internet plus,” as opposed to “reality minus.”
Simultaneously, technology interaction is poised to progress from separate digital realities toward ambient computing, where users can look up from their devices at a world that synchronizes effortlessly with technology.
Deloitte asks us to consider the metaverse use case that has defined the market up to now: gaming. The entire digital gaming industry is expected to surpass $220 billion in revenue in 2023, more than streaming video, digital music, and e-books combined.
Specifically, the online gaming industry is poised to exceed $26 billion next year, boasting an audience of 1.1 billion gamers.
Crucially, these gamers often gather online not just for gameplay but for the social and commercial possibilities offered by the immersive internet.
A striking 82% of those attending live in-game events also made a purchase because of the event, either in the form of digital goods or physical merchandise.
Whether through gaming or other means, 25% of consumers could be spending at least one hour in the metaverse each day by 2026, while 30% of businesses are estimated to have products and services ready.
Such figures are “emphatic proof” for Deloitte that the economy of the immersive internet mirrors the physical world.
“Brands can charge a premium for providing a unique experience or signaling value to other consumers,” it states, before urging brands across industries to invest now “to meet today’s customers where they already are.”
Potential developments in internet interaction over the next decade include sensory expansion. Deloitte asks us to consider the possibility of one day “smelling a cake baking in the metaverse or, if you’re willing to lick a screen, tasting it.”
Startups such as OVR Technology are developing scent packs to connect to VR headsets, while others such as HaptX are building haptic gloves to deliver a sense of touch.
AR tools such as smart glasses and motion sensors can enable spatial interaction, allowing users to interact directly with physical data without creating a digital copy. For example, patrons can walk up to a restaurant wearing smart glasses and be treated to a display of hours, current promotions, and reviews. Or, by suppressing images in their glasses, a group of friends can attend a concert without seeing any of the city billboards in view.
The spatial web is likely to blur the lines between physical and virtual environments. Mike Bechtel, Deloitte’s chief futurist, says, “As reality itself increasingly comes online, digital content will be seamlessly woven into our physical spaces, inseparable from our shared personal and professional experiences.”
The next generation of devices may connect users to the metaverse without requiring additional headsets or handheld devices. Deloitte invites us to imagine stepping into a media room that displays the metaverse as a hologram across the walls.
“Or imagine a laptop that uses cameras to translate an employee’s real-life gestures into an avatar’s movement in the virtual workplace.”
These areambient experiences, Bechtel explains, in which ubiquitous digital assistants monitor the environment, awaiting a voice, gesture, or glance, reacting to (or proactively anticipating) and fulfilling our requests.
What about mind control? Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) represent an extreme in simplifying user interactions with technology, but noninvasive BCI technology is already finding its way into AR/VR headsets. Today’s smart thermostats accept voice control; tomorrow’s will know you feel chilly and proactively adjust to ensure your comfort.
Neural interfaces that afford direct communication between biological thought and digital response “should eventually allow users to control digital avatars and environments using thoughts.”
Next, Watch This
The metaverse may be a wild frontier, but here at NAB Amplify we’ve got you covered! Hand-selected from our archives, here are some of the essential insights you’ll need to expand your knowledge base and confidently explore the new horizons ahead:
- The Metaverse Will Make $5 Trillion By 2030. That Sounds Awesome and… Wait, What Are We Talking About?
- Metaverse Expectations vs. Reality
- A Metacode of Conduct for the Metaverse
- Metaverse Interoperability: Utopian Dream, Privacy Nightmare
- Consumers Are Confused About the Metaverse, But Seriously, Can You Blame Them?