The Metaverse is often perceived as a buzzword, yet beneath this term lies a complex array of developments harboring the potential for serious innovation in the digital realm. It represents the next evolutionary stage of the internet, characterized by a pioneering spirit and a sense of new beginnings, reminiscent of the hype surrounding the turn of the millennium. Despite the absence of a unified definition that does justice to the diversity of the Metaverse, several fundamental characteristics are already emerging:
1. Virtual Worlds and Experiences: The Metaverse is a conglomerate of virtual worlds and experiences. These are not limited to entertainment media such as video games but also serve as social meeting places and platforms for creative expression.
2. Ownership and Commerce in the Virtual Realm: Technologies like blockchain and NFTs are creating new forms of ownership and trade of digital goods in the Metaverse. This development transcends mere copying and proliferation of digital content, enabling distinct property and copyright rights.
3. Integration with the Physical World: The Metaverse is not an isolated virtual parallel universe but interacts in various ways with the real world. Physical objects can have virtual counterparts in the Metaverse, and conversely, virtual objects can be integrated into the real world through technologies like augmented reality.
4. Social and Economic Expansion: The boundaries of our world are expanding through the Metaverse. The combination of societal acceptance and technological possibilities promises the emergence of new business models and creative solutions in and around virtual worlds.
The development of the Metaverse is still in its early stages, marked by a dynamic that encompasses both technological and social aspects. The five driving forces – market timing, technical prerequisites, market mechanisms, and regulatory frameworks – play a crucial role in the current prominence and relevance of the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is considered the next logical stage of the internet, a three-dimensional, real-time internet offering immersive virtual spaces that are persistent and accessible 24/7. These virtual spaces will connect the virtual and real worlds by complementing and interacting with each other. User-generated content, especially in the form of three-dimensional objects, will play a central role, and these objects will be transferable, portable, and tradable, similar to real goods.
Technologically, the Metaverse is based on a combination of content, hardware, software, and services, supported by IT infrastructure and networks. Extended Reality (XR), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and advanced rendering technologies such as the Rave Engine are the core technologies enabling this immersive, interactive, and economically viable virtual world. The Rave Engine, based on WebGL, allows seamless integration into any website and is compatible with a variety of devices. Unlike cloud rendering, which incurs high costs and a large ecological footprint, rendering with the Rave Engine takes place directly on the end device. This leads to a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solution, revolutionizing the way we interact, consume, and conduct business. As a digital mirror of the physical world, the Metaverse changes ownership through digital goods and enables synchronous and asynchronous consumption of content. The user experience is intensified through immersion, and the dematerialization of physical products opens new doors for digital twins and innovative business models.
In the Metaverse ecosystem, diverse actors such as research institutions, technology providers, service providers, platform operators, content providers, and end-users operate. This ecosystem is characterized by platform economies, with business models derived from the roles of the actors. Companies must grapple with questions such as: Why and when to enter the Metaverse, what role they wish to take on, where to start, and what they aim to achieve in the Metaverse?
Use cases in the Metaverse offer fascinating possibilities in various areas such as work, education, health, security, production, finance, and entertainment. The use of XR technologies, virtual twins, and immersive platforms enables the revolutionizing of traditional business models and the creation of new ones.
Examples of Metaverse applications include hybrid shopping experiences, virtual bank branches, digital concerts, gaming experiences, hybrid educational offerings, and immersive museum tours. These examples demonstrate the immense potential of the Metaverse to fundamentally change the way we work, learn, consume, and entertain.
The use of the Metaverse in businesses ranges from enhancing brand engagement and offering new customer experiences to optimizing workflows and tapping into new revenue streams. It provides a platform for innovation, creativity, and global connectivity, whose full potential is yet to be unlocked. Therefore, companies are urged to take the Metaverse seriously, strategically position themselves, and actively seize the opportunities it presents.
Advancements in VR and AR technology already enable the visualization of three-dimensional models of objects in their actual size, which is particularly advantageous in the context of mass customization and made-to-order. In this context, CAS Software AG is developing prototypes for B2B sales. These prototypes use VR glasses to make the sales process more interesting, intuitive, and customer-centric. In a virtual sales hall, products can be visualized in 3D and adjusted in real-time, which is especially beneficial for complex configuration options.
In the field of direct-to-consumer marketing of digital assets, content creators use social media to sell digital goods directly to their community. Tokenized goods offer new possibilities for instant gratification and value creation.
The Metaverse also opens up new avenues for merging physical products with virtual items, as demonstrated by the NFT project from Adidas. This combines physical products with virtual counterparts, appealing to new generations and generating additional revenue.
Moreover, NFT watches and digital certificates of authenticity open up new possibilities in the luxury segment. These enable the ownership and trading of digital versions of luxury goods like watches and artworks, offering new forms of interaction and ownership in the digital space.
In terms of sustainability, the Metaverse and digital twins enable innovative approaches in building, district, and urban planning. They facilitate the consideration of environmental aspects in planning and support the optimization of operational processes.
Considering the societal impact of the Metaverse reveals its role as a forward-looking chapter in the evolution of the internet. It acts as a catalyst for innovative social interactions and enriches various aspects of life by creating new dimensions of human experience. The Metaverse, understood as an advancement of mobile internet, leverages the potentials of immersive technologies to transform societal structures towards greater creativity, inclusivity, and sustainability, while also opening up novel economic perspectives.
The role of the Metaverse in promoting digital participation is of central importance. It strives to eliminate barriers and promote inclusive technologies, providing every individual access to digital spaces. These inclusive technologies are not only a stepping stone to equal opportunities and participation but also a crucial step towards a diverse and dynamic digital community.
Creating a culture of safety and respect within the Metaverse is another essential pillar for its success and acceptance. This requires robust security protocols and privacy measures to ensure a safe environment where users feel respected and protected. Such a culture is fundamental to unleashing the full potential of the Metaverse as a space for positive social, cultural, and economic interactions.
Looking to the future, the Metaverse is predicted to undergo remarkable development. Over the next five to ten years, a significant increase in the significance and application of AR/VR technologies and digital assets is expected. These elements are integral to creating a profound, immersive experience and play a central role in shaping the Metaverse as a seamless interface between digital and physical worlds. Furthermore, the potential convergence of various virtual environments will create an even more integrated and interconnected digital ecosystem, further blurring the boundaries between different platforms and worlds.
Thus, the Metaverse stands on the threshold of a digital renaissance era, redefining the boundaries between reality and virtuality, between human and digital interaction.
It promises not only to revolutionize the way we interact and conduct business but also how we unleash our creativity and shape our social interactions.