How AI, VR, AR, 5G, and Blockchain Can Converge to Power the Metaverse

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Emerging technologies including AI, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 5G, and blockchain (and associated digital currencies) have all progressed on their own merits and timelines. Each has found a degree of application, although AI has clearly progressed the furthest. Each technology matures while overcoming challenges ranging from blockchain energy consumption the propensity of virtual reality to induce nausea. They will likely converge in readiness over the next several years, underpinned by the now ubiquitous cloud computing for elasticity and scale. And in this convergence, the sum will be much greater than the parts. The catalyst for this convergence will be the metaverse, a connected network of ever-active 3D virtual worlds.

The concept of metaverse has great potential. On some level, it could be a 3D social media channel with posts perfectly targeted to each user by the AI. This is the Meta (formerly Facebook) vision. It also has the potential to be a global platform for information, entertainment and work.

There will be several metavers, at least initially, with some geared towards specific interests such as gaming or sports. The main distinction between current technology and the Metaverse is in the immersive possibilities offered by the Metaverse, which is why Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia and others are investing so much in it. It can also become the next version from the Internet.

Instead of watching the news, you might feel like you’re in the news. Instead of learning history by reading an event in a book – like Washington Crossing the Delaware – you could virtually witness the event from shore or from a boat. Instead of watching a basketball game on TV, you can experience it in 360 °. People could virtually attend a conference, watch speeches and meet other people. In the metaverse, our digital presence will increasingly complement our actual presence. According to For Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Metaverse might be the next best thing after a working teleportation device.


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Legend: Thanks to Time magazine, it is possible to experience the attack on Pearl Harbor via VR

As described by Monica White in Digital trends, “The metaverse is intended to replace or enhance the actual functionality of a virtual space. The things users do in their day-to-day lives, like attending classes or going to work, can all be done in the metaverse instead. For example, the metaverse could offer a whole new 3D platform for e-commerce. Imagine a virtual reality shopping experience, virtually walking the aisles of a megastore supplied by a multitude of platform partner companies specially designed for you, where promotional messages are designed with you in mind only, and only items displayed are those in stock and available to send. In this store, sale items are selected based on your taste and expected needs, and value-based prices are dynamically updated in real time, based on the age of the product (if applicable). is a perishable item), supply and demand, or both.

First there was Second Life

While the Metaverse looks fresh and futuristic, we’ve been here before. In addition to early visionaries Neal Stephenson and Guillaume Gibson, which described the metaverse in fiction, a very real metaverse was created in 2003. It was known as Second life, and millions of people have flocked to the platform to experience an alternate digital universe filled with avatars. NBC describes Second Life as an “online virtual world where avatars do the kind of things real people do in real life: buy things.” Sell ​​stuff. Bet. Listen to music. Buy a property. Flirt. To play games. To watch movies. Have sex. Harvard The university even taught online courses in Second Life. Second Life was so successful that it was the subject of a 2006 cover story in BusinessWeek.

Legend: Second Life was on the cover of BusinessWeek in May 2006.

However, the popularity of Second Life plummeted shortly thereafter. As described in a 2007 Computer world article, the experience suffered due to “poor user interface, strong technical requirements, steep learning curve, inability to scale, and lots of distractions.” Then Facebook has arrived and offered a more compelling experience.

In 2007, there was no VR, AR, 5G, blockchain, or digital currency. Cloud computing was in its infancy and the mobile internet was still emerging as the first iPhone had just been presented. Additionally, AI still had a limited impact, as the deep learning boom was still a few years away. Perhaps this is why Meta is now in love with the idea of ​​the Metaverse as it seeks to combine the most compelling (and consumer-tested) elements of Facebook and Second Life, based on a whole new platform. shape powered by the latest technology.

Emerging technologies almost ready

Several of the technologies that will enable the metaverse, including virtual and augmented reality and blockchain, have been slow to mature, but are approaching a critical capacity level for success. Everyone was missing the app that will advance development and widespread adoption. The metaverse could be that app.

For VR, most headsets still need to be connected to a PC or game console to get the processing power and communication speed required for smooth, immersive experiences. Only Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 has so far freed itself from this cable constraint. But even this helmet remains bulky, according to one of Meta’s vice presidents. With ever faster processors and faster wireless communications on the near horizon, better visual resolution and connectionless experiences are expected to emerge over the next few years.

AR has mostly achieved niche adoption. In part, the outlook for AR likely suffered from the high-profile Google Glass market failure when it was introduced in 2012. And while Pokemon Go provided a huge boost to the technology in 2016, there isn’t. has not had a similar phenomenon since. But a big new player is apparently gearing up to enter the market: Perhaps spurred on by the concept of metaverse and the moves of competitors, Apple is expected to launch. its first AR / VR headset end of 2022. Apple has a leaning to enter a market long after the first players have proven their viability, then to dominate. It’s a reasonable conclusion that this is the company’s plan for the Metaverse.

Blockchain underpins cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and would allow virtual goods and identities to be purchased and seamlessly transferred between various metaverse platforms. New blockchain applications such as NFTs are leading to greater adoption, potentially indicating a new economy. The Wall Street Journal reported that the race is now on to extend this technology to all types of assets, adding that blockchain-based payments are superior to our existing financial infrastructure. Likewise, the New York Times reported that venture capital fund invested around $ 27 billion in crypto and blockchain companies in 2021, more than the previous 10 years combined.

Metaverse Perspectives

While some brands are already rush to capitalize on metaverse fever, metaverse will likely evolve in spurts, with widespread adoption for years to come. Indeed, the necessary technologies still have some way to go to optimize their functionality, ease of use and cost. A semiconductor company said a truly immersive metaverse will require a 1,000-fold increase in terms of computational efficiency compared to today’s advanced processors. Although this is a huge increase, the company separately present during a recent “Architecture Day” which plans to achieve this goal by 2025.

Whether it takes three or ten years, there is huge momentum behind the Metaverse, with seemingly limitless funding. Even at the current stage of development, Boeing is committed to design your new generation aircraft in the metaverse, using digital twins and Microsoft HoloLens helmets.

Kirby Winfield, founding general partner of venture capital firm Ascend, sees the metaverse as “the latest evolution of [an] continuous transition to an increasingly digital life. When it arrives in its entirety, this change will fulfill the immersive sci-fi visions of many.

Gary Grossman is the Senior Vice President of Technology Practice at Edelman and Global Head of the Edelman AI Center of Excellence.


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