Metaverse and Beyond: The Future of Digital Emergence

The gaming industry was one of the first to adopt many of the concepts underpinning the metaverse, writes Joseph Anantharaju, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO – Product Engineering Services, Happiest Minds Technologies

Over the last 10 years the pace of technology change has accelerated with multiple new technologies changing the landscape and effecting huge changes to business and personal life. Over the last year or so, one of the technologies that has been getting a lot of buzz and attention is the metaverse. While this technology holds much potential, experts are still split on the extent and especially the pace at which we will see this technology impacting our lifestyle.  

While the term metaverse has been around since 1992, it truly became a part of the mainstream lexicon with Facebook’s bold move to rebrand itself as Meta. The current form of the metaverse consists of multiple technologies that have been around for some time like AR/VR, Digital Twins and more. Moreover, in some cases, people tend to represent these technologies as the metaverse. The gaming industry was one of the first to adopt many of the concepts underpinning the metaverse. A couple of technology advancements have made the concept of the metaverse possible such as rapid improvements in computing power and storage, new paradigms in data engineering that have made possible the management of huge quantities of data, with AI becoming more mainstream among others. Other technologies that will act as a catalyst for adoption would be Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies and Web 3.0. 

A harbinger of the future for metaverse is the bold investments being made by many technology companies. Earlier last year, Microsoft announced its intentions to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, which could give them a leg up in terms of establishing a significant presence in the metaverse by bolstering its gaming portfolio and giving them depth in many of the metaverse paradigms and technologies. Other tech companies that are critical to building the backbone of the metaverse such as the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm have also made their intentions very clear.  

However, despite this frenzied activity from tech giants, the best marker of interest and adoption is to be had from large consumer brands and enterprises that will be the early innovators in embracing this emerging landscape. There are several early encouraging signs like Boeing plans to build its next plane in the metaverse while BMW is leveraging Nvidia’s omniverse to create factories of the future. While both these examples focus on creating manufacturing efficiencies, there are instances of compelling and engaging customer experiences like BMW’s JOYTOPIA, an entirely virtual experience including individual avatars, future of mobility virtual events, Nike’s virtual world of Nikeland and Coca-Cola’s NFT drop that included everything from NFT puffer jackets to friendship cards. In addition, many other recognizable names like Samsung, Hyundai, Wendy’s, and Tommy Hilfiger have already made their presence felt in the metaverse.  

Happiest Minds has from inception identified and built expertise early in the life of many digital technologies and the metaverse is no different. Our CTO and his Technology Council are directing a CoE to build capabilities in underlying metaverse technologies. The objective is to build components and solutions that will enable customer adoption and create a catalogue of use cases with implementation roadmaps to convince customers to innovate and embark on their metaverse journeys. With some of our automotive customers, we are exploring building out use-cases around virtual car showrooms that can create immersive and shared experiences for end-users and enable virtual test-driving experiences. We are also discussing several use cases around immersive learning, hands-on training, and collaboration in the Edtech space. In addition, we see many use cases in other industries like CPG, Retail, Healthcare and Manufacturing where the metaverse has the potential to bring about seismic change.  

However, these are early days and there are still a few areas that need to be figured out before we see wholesale adoption. The first one being the portal into the metaverse as in the current devices are not intuitive, quite intrusive and do not blend into our normal way of life. We need to have a device that would allow us to seamlessly cohabit in the real and the meta world. Another area would be the ability of the tech platform companies to address user concerns around security, privacy, and other related threats. Finally, as with all other technology adoptions, we are still on the hunt for the killer app or use case that would attract a broad set of users and lead to rapid and irreversible adoption.  

Having said that, no one can deny the potential of the metaverse to be a major game changer in personal computing, internet and cloud to profoundly transform how we live our lives and interact with each other.  

For now, the playground is ripe with opportunities for those early innovators who have a clear vision to make bold moves, think big, fail fast and utilise their learnings to forever change how they create future proof products and experiences that clearly distinguish them from competition.   

(Joseph Anantharaju is the Executive Vice Chairman & CEO – Product Engineering Services of Happiest Minds Technologies)