- In a two-part podcast hosted by Geof Wheelwright, futurist Matt Griffin and Arm director of innovation Remy Pottier talk definitions, applications, digital twins, virtual real estate, and more.
- They believe the metaverse is an evolution and that we are already seeing the foundations of it laid today, including in the use of digital twins and “time-travel” video applications.
- Aspects of what we might call the metaverse are already here and businesses are basing investment decisions on the future of the internet.
The metaverse. Remember that? You can’t escape the feeling that in reality it isn’t really anything life- or business-changing, at least not yet at any rate.
That said, aspects of what we might call the metaverse are already here and businesses are basing investment decisions on the future of the internet.
Investors for example bought $650 million of virtual real estate last year, we learn from a two-part “Future of the Metaverse” podcast hosted by chip maker ARM.
“They’re buying stuff that doesn’t exist,” says Matthew Griffin, the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum. “We’re talking about a thing that’s only recently got a definition that technically doesn’t actually exist but that actually has real impact in the real world.”
The other participant on the podcast is ARM’s director of innovation, Remy Pottier. He points to examples of the metaverse being built today by companies including Autodesk, NVIDIA and BMW, which are creating digital twins to train robots and educate workers.
Other examples from the gaming world are Roblox, Unity and Epic Games. “These experience creation platforms and 3D engines are generating billions in revenues generally just from the platform itself,” says Griffin.
He also suggests that the metaverse is a new marketing channel where brands can access existing or potentially new customers.
“It makes a lot of sense for brands to switch part of their digital marketing budget to metaverse-related budget and test virtual product just before they go and they go and build it in the physical world.”
For example, drugs designed in virtual reality landscapes that are then eventually manufactured in the real world, but occurring at speeds that were unimaginable even just a couple of years ago.
“For consumers, it means that a lot of live or play experiences will switch to the metaverse,” Griffin posits. “This means potentially new immersive, personalized experience. Wherever you go it means, 3D virtual options that open up for film, television, and music and that we will be able to consume.”
Physical hardware such as VR headgear remains a primary barrier to consumer experiences in the metaverse, but Griffin thinks that “increasingly in the next couple of years, from a gadgets perspective, we could actually see slipping into the metaverse as easy as putting on a pair of sunglasses.”
The next step is easier user control via gesture, voice or other forms of haptic interface.
Pottier outlines four categories of use case driving metaverse development.
The first is about transcending time and place — digital teleportation. “It’s about adding a way to travel the world in a digital way without moving from your chair.”
It’s not just about “tourism,” but business, too. He points to a next generation of immersive video conferencing that enables one to “teleport.”
“It can be training, education, product development… to co-create and co-develop product in the metaverse from sites that will be in India, or in China, or Europe, and people can meet in this collaboration room, look at the device touch it and, decide whether or not it’s the right device they want to create.”
Another use case is dubbed “window into the unseen.” This is a realistic simulation of what’s happening inside, for instance, a running motor or an internal view of organs for surgeons.
Number three is alternate reality. One example is Pokémon Go, where digital worlds are overlaid on the real in real time.
A fourth is expanding human capabilities. “We are weak today and very limited when you think about the metaverse capability, which is infinite. Just think about real time translation of everything you do. You will be able to speak any language without even having to think about it. It could augment your five senses, from everything to the digital world or become your super digital assistant, that basically knows everything you did. The digital assistant just knows, because it has been able to store everything.”
In the second part of the podcast, Pottier and Griffin discuss the how closely the metaverse could resemble sci-fi movies.
Griffin argues that a prerequisite to any form of successful metaverse is a set of laws and legislation to build it on.
“For example, if I’m going to be building my metaverse and I choose a particular platform to build it, and bear in mind that can incorporate an entire city, as some countries are trying to do, what happens when the company hosting that platform goes bust?
“We’ve seen a lot of virtual reality trademarks already being registered for company, for third parties that have nothing to do with the original trademarks.
“What happens when somebody else goes onto that same platform, into my virtual world, and then starts building their own virtual reality world in my world? Where do we end up with this kind of this Disney multiverse madness?”
He goes on, “How do we actually audit what’s going on in the metaverse? Because we’re doing all these different things, we have no idea how to keep track of them, how to monitor them, how to report on them. Adidas, for example, has been selling NFTs [but] how do you actually report on that?”
The pair then went on to discuss more far-fetched concepts such as the blending of the virtual with the real, a familiar concept from trippy sci-fi classics like Total Recall and The Matrix.
The gist of the discussion is that many of the elements that could lead to such fictional scenarios are already science fact.
Pottier says, “To actually get into The Matrix scenario, I think first we need to actually already agree to live in The Matrix in a virtual actual reality, at least part of, maybe most of our time. It means that we are already living in some kind of Ready Player One kind of world, and we already agreed to do that.”
Another idea: most people are used to the idea of a brain machine interface, like a skull cap that reads our brain signals and converts it into text or images.
“Three years ago, we managed to prove that you can actually use artificial intelligence and brain machine interfaces to push information into people’s heads,” says Pottier. “So in The Matrix, when Trinity goes up to the Huey and says, I need to learn how to fly a Huey now and all of a sudden the knowledge is uploaded to her brain, and she gets in and then flies Neo out over the skyscrapers and the skyline. We’ve already done that.
“What scientists have figured out in the labs is how to upload or transmit knowledge to your brain using technology. So when we actually have a look at that Matrix, we are way beyond that already.
“We’ve got a Neuroprosthetic chip that is used in Alzheimer’s able to read your biological brain signals and convert them into ones and zeros. For Alzheimer’s patients, this improves their memory retention by 30. But if I can convert your brain signals into ones and zeros and store it on a computer chip in your head as a memory, isn’t that memory downloading? And then couldn’t I take those ones and zeros and push them into the cloud?”