Growth to take off as virtual interfaces transition from tech toys into tech tools
BY Susan Ashworth, Tv technology
If you needed a specific definition for what the metaverse can do, you may be waiting awhile.
It’s an immersive embodiment of the internet. And it’s a shared, personalized experience. But it’s also an animated, interactive playroom, one that gives us the chance to experience our existence in ways we can’t in the physical world.
For broadcasters, game makers and content creators, the metaverse has the capacity to transform production of the industry.
By using affordable virtual reality technology, a media company might have the capacity to view, manage and interact with an ongoing production regardless of where it is happening. Or engage linear television viewers with an immersive, companion experience.
What’s clear is that the metaverse is poised to be something big.
“In general, it feels like the industry is on the doorstep of taking major strides toward delivering on truly immersive entertainment,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president and managing director of Global Connections and Events.
In its Tech Trends 2023 report, Deloitte Insights found that the metaverse is expected to be an $80 billion market by 2024 as companies begin to use the technology to create an enriched alternative to the flat, two-dimensional world we currently access via video feeds, email and texts.
“In other words, the metaverse is best thought of as a more immersive incarnation of the internet itself,” the authors of the Deloitte report wrote. “[It is an] ‘internet plus’ as opposed to ‘reality minus.’”
Growth is expected to take off as virtual interfaces transition from technology toys into technology tools, with new business models following closely behind.
In a recent panel discussion about the metaverse, Deloitte Consulting Principal Jessica Kosmowski said that industries are just now at the cusp of exploring unique initial use cases of the metaverse.
“We are essentially looking at the next evolution of the internet,” Kosmowski said. “Every aspect of the tech, media and telecom ecosystem is in for a major change in the next few years. Media companies will need to develop new business models [and] engage consumers with new content and experiences. Products and services will be reimagined at every layer of the technology stack.”
NAB Show is tackling the issue with a series of sessions, roundtable discussions and exhibitor displays. Leaders from Microsoft and Dentsu will take an in-depth dive into the metaverse and explore how companies have already begun to create destinations and experiences during the Tuesday session “Secrets of Building Your Brand in the Metaverse.”
Another Tuesday session, “East vs. West: How Will the Metaverse Evolve and Converge Globally,” will explore the commonalities and obstacles that exist between the Western entrepreneurial model and the Eastern centralized model and what businesses can expect when it comes to building within this new interconnected universe.
What are the possibilities of all this? Consider scented packs that could be connected to a virtual reality headset to mirror the lush, scent-filled environment a user is watching on screen. Or a hyperreal augmented reality shopping experience led by an AI-powered avatar. Or the use of sensitive, interactive haptic gloves that would give a user a sense of touch.
There’s already demand for blending physical and virtual worlds in the media industry.
Sinclair Broadcast Group and Deloitte recently announced plans to launch a new metaverse sports fan community driven by a 3D creation tool. Beyond simply viewing a live game, fans can engage before the season and before each game. Sinclair called the partnership a key step in driving new revenue streams and deepening engagement with its viewers by redefining the sports viewing experience.
Almost universally, experts are saying that those interested in what the metaverse has to offer should start with strategy, whether the main goal is to develop new streams of revenue or to improve production operations through an augmented work experience.
On the show floor, exhibitors will spotlight their work in the metaverse and related experiences like Web3, AI and data-driven personalization.
“New immersive content experiences are imminent, from pure AR/VR or mixed reality variations to the full-blown promise of new digital worlds with users as the central character,” said NAB’s Brown.
While there are certainly hurdles ahead and the challenge of syncing all sides of the ecosystem — from the development of content, the process of content creation and distribution and the creation of the consumer technology necessary to deliver the ultimate user experience — the industry looks to be ready to take strides toward delivering deeply immersive entertainment, Brown said.