With the metaverse gaining strong global attention, and increasingly seeing the real world adapted into a virtual setting, businesses and organisations of all kinds must understand the potential the metaverse holds for business, as well as economic and social growth.
The metaverse has been gaining strong global attention in recent years. It’s hard to not see why; after all, it’s an early iteration of a fully immersive and realistic virtual world that promises to cater to all our senses in the near, digital-first future.
Enter the enterprise metaverse. Powered by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, these areas of the metaverse hold significant promise in transforming various segments of the economy through its realistic virtual simulation and interactivity with these simulated objects. Here, communications service providers (CSPs) will play a crucial role in delivering the high-performance, mission-critical networks required to power the metaverse to the benefit of all economic sectors.
Seamless experiences for both VR and AR rest heavily on high-speed networks. Without them, lags and glitches will continue to plague the Metaverse experience, as highlighted during last year’s Metaverse Fashion Week. The current challenge is that VR experiences are only properly accessible over high-speed fixed networks. This also does not resolve the latency issues that are not just counterintuitive to the VR experience but can also cause nausea and headaches for its users.
Meanwhile, AR experiences are often dependent on mobile network quality. If we want to extend its potential beyond games like Pokémon GO – especially for AR to act as a seamless overlay on the world around us – we would need networks with high capacity, high bandwidth, and ultra-low latency. For this, greater preparation in the 5G space is required to prepare for the roll-out of 5G-Advanced networks which can reliably power more immersive AR applications.
An ‘ultimate’ form of the metaverse will be a world that combines VR, AR, and other technologies to immerse a person into a cyber-physical confluence. What this means is that, instead of removing us from reality, it will become part of everyday life; an always-on extended reality (XR) that blends the physical, digital, and virtual that allows us to bring the metaverse wherever we go.
CSPs and enterprises must already begin thinking about how to harness the metaverse’s potential. For instance, one consumer-focused development may be creating devices that encourage people to spend more time with metaverse experiences, such as a lighter and higher-resolution VR headset or affordable AR glasses. If launched at the right price point, such devices may create the same disruptive impact on the metaverse as the iPhone on the mobile internet.
Yet, truly realizing the benefits of the metaverse on economies rests on wider industrial and enterprise adoption. Already, we are seeing enterprises exploring a wider range of practical metaverse applications. This includes cross-industry use cases such as training, collaboration, remote sales, and even product training (where VR can be used to demonstrate large products to potential customers without the need to travel).
As more enterprises start waking up to the metaverse’s innate potential, Australia’s CSPs must be prepared to meet the growing demand for private wireless networks and 5G network slicing. They should also look to participate in or lead ecosystems to deliver metaverse platforms and applications to enable more use metaverse use cases to take off – changing our perception of how to experience and interact with the world around us.