May 26, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of May 26, 2023

The question from last week -- Is the metaverse dead? -- still lingers even as impressive new applications and releases continue to gain media attention, creating high expectations on the impact of these experiential technologies. 

This week, the long-awaited Apple mixed-reality headset and Meta’s interest in Magic Leap were in the news, complementing last week’s news of Google and Microsoft’s activity. Singapore’s digital twin and its ability to facilitate planning for perspective climate shifts received headline attention, as did other country-specific applications. 

The news also highlighted metaverse-inspired activity being tested in banking, film, and travel, and the resulting impact on consumer experience, the “real” size of the metaverse market, and business strategy. And yet, even with these new developments, what we see trending still holds up: specialized versus generic metaverses “work” with more to know and understand as the evolution continues. 


The bottom line: Palmer Luckey, who founded Oculus in 2012, had a lot to say recently about the Apple Headset. Even though Luckey is no longer associated with Oculus (Meta), he is still widely regarded as the driving force behind the development of today’s VR technology. When asked about his expectations for the headset during a Twitter Spaces session, Luckey said, “The Apple Headset is very, very good. I have not seen the final version of the headset, but I’ve seen an earlier version of it, and it is excellent, it is gonna be a huge deal, and it is gonna be expensive. But I think that their following approach is a smart strategy. They want to make VR something everybody wants before making it something everybody can afford.”

The bottom line: Apple’s mixed-reality headset, a seven-year-long initiative, has thousands working on the project but with CEO Tim Cook leading the charge and taking on what some see as a risky move. But Apple Inc. – a $2.7 trillion company – has made its name on breakthrough technologies that people want to use and the headset may be just one more bold new idea, courtesy of Time Cook.

The bottom line: Singapore’s digital twin is set up to be open and collaborative, with the ability to share information across various government agencies as well as with the public.  The twin has been used for a variety of decisions already, including detailed tree and green space management. The project’s next stage will include capturing and utilizing subsurface data that can assist emergency services with disaster planning, e.g., the simulation of evacuation scenarios, the impact of crowd dispersion, and the analysis of transport flows.

The bottom line: China has seen its share of high-profile metaverse failures, but that hasn’t stopped the government’s enthusiasm. Support and investment in big tech, an advanced 6G network, and a big gaming community continue with fashion and retail seen as potential revenue streams.

The bottom line: Educators across Asia – in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan -- are using metaverse technologies for instruction and bringing VR into the classroom to support more traditional teaching methods. For example, South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology is working to become a "metaversity" where classrooms are digitalized into the metaverse, offering training courses in cyberspace. "In the metaverse, students can have first-person experiences as if they were the size of a virus or as large as the entire milky way. They could even be transported to ancient Rome or help build the Great Wall of China," says Mytaverse CTO and cofounder Jaime Lopez."

The bottom line: Canada’s banks may be taking a slower, more cautious approach to the metaverse, but interest in and activity in the metaverse is accelerating in the banking sector. RBC and TD Bank are currently piloting programs for employees and customers in the metaverse, with TD Bank using VR to attract young talent and form new connections with customers.

The bottom line: At Cannes Next, Sophie Hvitved, futurist and senior advisor at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, set the tone for the event by emphasizing the importance of long-term thinking and by highlighting the tendency of various industries, including media and film, to focus on short-term returns instead of envisioning future possibilities. Hvitved urged the audience to look beyond the present and consider the transformative potential of generative AI, which has already demonstrated explosive change. He stressed the need to explore the metaverse with a serious and ambitious mindset, acknowledging its potential to revolutionize storytelling, communication, and media interaction.

The bottom line: Magic happens when an experiment, and an outstanding use of GoogleMaps' new Metaverse + AI tools, is transformative. As one user cited, “So, one week ago, Google opened up this mind-blowing thing called Photorealistic 3D tiles for developers. It's like having a legit 3D version of the whole world, complete with super-detailed textures. Naturally, I couldn't resist diving headfirst into the API and connecting it with my go-to Unreal Engine 5. Exploring the entire world in 3D? That's next-level GTA!  🚓 I set myself a 1-week deadline and came up with this idea for a short prototype of controlling a paper airplane that can transport you to any place on Earth. And not just that, it can supply you with noteworthy insights into the places you encounter during your journey. How did I do it, you ask? Well, I used Google's 3D Tiles & ChatGPT (of course) to understand queries based on world coordinates! So, I connected Unreal Engine to the ChatGPT API, let ChatGPT chat with Google's 3D tiles API, and voila! This project taught me much about the Google Maps 3D tiles API and the ChatGPT API. I'm excited to use these tools in my future projects.”

The bottom line: The “Largest underwater scanning project in history gives never-before-seen view of Titanic” is a headline that demonstrates the wide-ranging application of Metaverse technology and the potential it has for applications in culture, arts, entertainment, and tourism. Those involved in this new underwater scanning project believe the findings may answer some of the unanswered questions regarding the April 14, 1912 tragedy, that killed more than 1,500 people. A team of scientists have used deep sea mapping to create “an exact ‘Digital Twin’ of the Titanic wreck for the first time,” according to a press release Wednesday from deep sea investigators Magellan and filmmakers Atlantic Productions. Scans of the wreck were carried out in the summer of 2022 by a specialist ship stationed 700 km (435 miles) off the coast of Canada, according to the release. The press statement said every millimeter of its three-mile debris field was mapped in minute detail. The final digital replica has

The bottom line: Everyone is talking about the recent Coca-Cola ad that was entirely made using Metaverse technologies + AI. Even though AI gets a lot of credit in the ad’s development, it took a talented team of VFX artists and more than 20 other developers, executives, and creatives, not to mention the use of several specialty agencies from around the globe. Some argue the special effects get in the way of true storytelling and needed textual references, but, in the end, the ad certainly reminds us of what is possible.

The bottom line: The healthcare market continues to be a sector where the metaverse has “legs,” with recent predictions expecting it to reach $79.6 billion by 2028. The factors driving growth include increasing demand for telehealth services and a shift towards patient-centric healthcare delivery. According to many health care “watchers,” the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery by offering immersive and personalized experiences for patients (virtual services), providers (virtual consultations, medical procedures and training in simulated settings, and access to global collaborations). With the integration of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, the metaverse has the capacity to enhance diagnostics, treatment planning, and patient outcomes.

The bottom line: Author Matthew Ball’s perspective on how business leaders should be thinking about the metaverse was recently captured by an editor at strategy + business with several insights worth sharing. At the top of the list is Ball’s belief that the metaverse should still be on the corporate agenda but nor by declaring a metaverse strategy.  Instead, Ball believes corporations should say what they really mean (re: the metaverse), such as building a digital twin, or testing NFT ticketing, and be judicious and flexible when it comes to investments. The article is rich with advice from Ball, who when asked about the metaverse’s hype, said that when it comes to technology, we shouldn’t be asking just “when,” but instead “When is what here for whom, how, and to what end?” Ball was also asked about how business leaders, policy makers, and ordinary citizens can shape the future of the metaverse. His response, “I believe the metaverse is of extraordinary importance. Yes, it will be worth trillions, but it will also reach nearly every person on earth, affecting culture, society, politics, and existence at large.”

Key Messages

  • Apple’s recent mixed reality headset announcement is inspiring excitement among leading technology players

  • Metaverse activity is accelerating around the globe with unique, country-specific applications

  • The newest Metaverse technologies and tools are pushing the boundaries on consumers’ experiences in banking, film, and travel 

  • How big is the Metaverse market … no, really … and what should business leaders be thinking

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