The “metaverse” is coming. Are you ready? Microsoft, Nvidia, and Facebook have all announced significant applications to give enterprises a door into the metaverse. Many startups are also building this kind of technology.
But just what is the metaverse anyway? Is it something that CIOs need to have on their radar? What are the use cases for businesses? And what are the caveats that organizations need to watch for to reduce risk?
What Is a Metaverse?
Metaverse is essentially a 3D mixed reality “place” that combines the real world/physical world with the digital world. It is persistent, meaning it continues to exist even if you close the app or logout. It is also collaborative, meaning that people in that world see the same thing and can work together. Some experts say that the metaverse will be a new 3D layer of the internet. Gartner’s definition goes one step further, says Tuong Nguyen, senior research analyst at Gartner, specifying that a true metaverse must be interoperable with other metaverses (and thus, many of today’s iterations don’t fit the Gartner definition yet.)
Here’s how Nvidia CEP Jensen Huang put it during his keynote address at Nvidia GTC 2021 online event this month: “The internet is essentially a digital overlay on the world. The overlay is largely 2D information -- text voice, images, video -- but that’s about to change. We now have the technology to create new 3D virtual worlds or model our physical world."
Today’s video conferencing, driven into the mainstream by the pandemic, is an example of two-dimensional collaboration. People can participate via their laptop cameras and microphones from home, or they can be in the office in a teleconference room. They can share their screens or use apps that allow for a collaborative whiteboard.
A metaverse layers immersive 3D on top of that. Participants can create avatars (digital representations of themselves) and use those to enter a virtual 3D room. In that room they can collaborate on a virtual whiteboard on the virtual wall or walk around a virtual 3D model of a car they are designing, for instance.
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