The metaverse, the next iteration of the internet, is a 3D space that allows individuals to have realistic interactions and immersive experiences, from shopping to working out. These digital worlds are brought to life by converging technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI). Platforms like Spatial, Roblox, and Fortnite are at the forefront of this revolution, offering users a sense of immersion and real-time interactivity. These platforms are evolving beyond gaming with use cases in entertainment, education, and collaborative work.
The metaverse is not just growing; it's thriving, with a projected market value of $800 billion by 2024, as reported by Bloomberg. It's transforming how we connect, play, and explore virtual possibilities.
Navigating the use cases
Businesses are adding the metaverse to their marketing mix to promote their brands in dynamic, interactive, 3D environments. Consumers can interact with digital replicas of products, try them on, or position and place them in virtual environments. Brands can also build engaging 3D experiences for users to understand the story and narrative of a company. This approach offers a novel way to engage customers and create immersive brand experiences. For instance, Lush partnered with Landvault to create a 3D experience on Decentraland to reach new audiences, where users could participate in games, dance-offs, treasure hunts, and view the brand’s products in a 3D environment.
Real estate developers use the metaverse to prototype designs before construction and collaborate with stakeholders during the design process. The 3D, high-fidelity graphics of the metaverse also make it ideal for property realtors to offer virtual tours of locations for sale or rent, providing global reach and reducing environmental impacts. The 3D internet allows users to buy, sell, and develop virtual properties in the digital space, creating a digital real estate market ripe for investment and innovation opportunities.
The metaverse is a great platform to host virtual gatherings, from concerts to conferences, offering unparalleled immersion that makes attendees feel physically present. Organizing events in the metaverse significantly reduces the need for physical infrastructure, travel, and accommodation expenses, making it cost-effective and attractive for hosts and participants. The immersive nature of these events, powered by advanced virtual reality technologies, enhances the user experience, providing a unique selling point (USP) that traditional events cannot match. A great example of a metaverse event is Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week, which brought together over 60 brands and 300,000 attendees globally during the 3-day festival. Users could join the event as avatars and visit stores customized to brands, attend live fashion shows, and purchase physical and virtual products.
The metaverse offers a revolutionary platform for urban planning and development, enabling the modeling and visualization of urban projects in a virtual environment. This approach allows for detailed planning and testing of urban designs before any physical work begins, improving decision-making and community engagement. A notable example of metaverse technologies in urban planning is Saudi Arabia’s NEOM city project, where developers are investing in creating a digital twin to assist in the construction and design of the city.
Banks and other financial institutions can expand their presence to the metaverse to engage and interact with customers through virtual branches. Service providers can enrich these spaces with gamified experiences, virtual avatars for assistance, and mechanisms to earn rewards to build loyalty. Dubai-based Commercial Bank International (CBI), is one such financial institution that has opened a virtual location on Decentraland to converge physical and digital experiences to serve customers better.
The technology behind it all
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
VR and AR are pivotal for immersive experiences in the metaverse, allowing users to interact with digital environments in a life-like manner. VR allows users to experience virtual worlds in 3D, while AR places computer-generated 3D imagery in the real world around us. The Meta Quest and Microsoft HoloLens headsets are key technologies helping individuals access metaverse experiences.
AI powers dynamic and responsive environments within the 3D internet, from natural language processing for virtual assistants to generative AI tools for creators to build the metaverse. A leading software in the space, Landvault Create, is a no-code AI assistant that streamlines the development of virtual spaces. It uses procedural generation and AI to help users and creators build 3D spaces quickly with simple prompts.
Essential for creating detailed virtual worlds, 3D reconstruction technology allows for digitizing real-world objects and environments into high-fidelity 3D models. This technology is critical for achieving realism and depth in the metaverse. Unreal Engine and Unity are prominent software in the market that help develop advanced 3D models and interactive visuals for the metaverse.
These technologies underpin the metaverse's web3 economy, providing a secure, transparent transaction framework. Blockchain's decentralized nature ensures that digital assets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), like land or items in the 3D internet, are owned securely and can be traded or monetized. Blockchain networks also allow for decentralized storage of large amounts of data that prevents the metaverse from running low on space and is independent of third-party ownership.
Cloud computing enables scalability and accessibility in the metaverse’s real-time, high-fidelity virtual environments, offering the computational power needed to handle vast amounts of data for complex simulations.
The web3 aspect
In the evolving landscape of the metaverse, engines like Unreal Engine, Unity, and CryEngine are pivotal in crafting high-fidelity immersive experiences. With its superior 3D graphics, Unreal Engine brings unparalleled realism, making virtual worlds more engaging and lifelike. Unity supports high-quality visuals across a broad spectrum of AR and VR platforms, making it ideal for developers to create complex, interactive virtual environments.
Integrating blockchain technology with these 3D-generated assets and environments introduces a layer of security and authenticity. The decentralized, tamper-proof ledger of blockchain ensures that assets, such as virtual real estate or in-game items, remain secure, uncopyable, and theft-proof. This foundational security is vital for fostering trust and stability within the metaverse economy.
The monetization of digital assets through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) marks a significant innovation within the digital economy of the 3D internet. By tokenizing 3D items, properties, or experiences as NFTs, creators, and users can own and profit from unique digital items, opening new economic opportunities. The virtual fashion industry, for instance, has seen significant success, with digital clothing selling for thousands of dollars. Dolce & Gabbana’s NFT couture collection set a record value of $6 million in the virtual market. The process of tokenizing these assets involves creating, minting on a blockchain to certify authenticity, and listing on marketplaces for trade, with platforms like Matera simplifying this process for broader accessibility.
The advent of web3 and blockchain technology heralds a new era of decentralization and user sovereignty in the metaverse. This technological synergy allows for more democratic and user-centric governance and economic models, empowering users with greater control over their data and digital assets. This evolution towards a more decentralized internet, or Web3, aligns perfectly with the ethos of the 3D internet, promising a future where virtual spaces are more immersive, secure, and user-driven.
What lies ahead?
Imagine a world where the internet isn't just something you browse but a space you inhabit. The future metaverse will likely transform our 2D web pages into 3D environments, where websites become explorable spaces and social media platforms become virtual communities. This shift will make the internet more intuitive and engaging as users navigate through immersive 3D spaces instead of clicking on links and scrolling through feeds.
The 3D internet is anticipated to become an integral part of our daily lives, much like smartphones and the internet are today. We can expect virtual and augmented reality devices to become more commonplace, allowing us to access the metaverse for various activities – from virtual meetings and shopping to social gatherings and entertainment.
A report by McKinsey & Company suggests that the metaverse could generate up to $5 trillion in value by 2030, with sectors like e-commerce, virtual learning, and remote work being significant contributors. Consumers are already spending more time in the 3D internet, with a report by Gartner suggesting that 25% of users could spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026 for activities like work, shopping, and education. These virtual words could also attract 5 billion users by 2030 (Citi’s Metaverse and Money report). This growth in adoption will blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds, making virtual interactions a part of real-world ones.
Looking ahead, the metaverse promises to transform the internet into a 3D universe, integrating seamlessly into daily life and expanding use cases across industries like education, healthcare, and real estate. The emerging digital economy within the 3D internet, highlighted by significant investments in virtual assets, points to a future where digital and physical realities converge. The metaverse undoubtedly stands at the forefront of digital innovation, offering a glimpse into a future where our digital and physical lives become increasingly intertwined.
Are you looking to build immersive experiences in the 3D world? We can help you build, scale, and monetize your creation in the metaverse. Get in touch with us!
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