Technologies such as augmented and virtual reality are transforming the metaverse from specialized tech to enterprise tool—potentially paving the way for new business models.
Since the first computer was built, businesses and consumers have enjoyed a progression toward simpler and more intimate interactions with technology. Professors wielding punch cards gradually gave way to business people brandishing PCs and, more recently, mobile and wearable devices. In a sense, the connection to the digital world has been mediated through a series of ever-shrinking rectangular screens. Networking and computational advancements have led users to constantly switch back and forth between their devices and physical reality. Now, as technologists recognize that screens can’t keep shrinking forever, the paradigm is shifting again, toward interfaces that take us through the glass and into immersive virtual experiences, including the digital world known as the metaverse.
While the term metaverse was coined in 1992, and virtual worlds have been popular in online games over the past two decades, a marked shift has occurred in recent years. The proliferation of affordable augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology and the cultural shift brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have catalyzed the acceptance and importance of digital worlds as viable places for human connection. In addition, architectural challenges that slowed previous incarnations of immersive spaces, such as Second Life, have since been partially mitigated by the elasticity of cloud computing.
Businesses have also doubled down on virtual worlds, with tens of billions in venture capital investment in the past year, and analysts estimating a US$800 billion market by2024. Despite the hyperbole around the metaverse, leaders should consider it not as a diminished proxy for in-person experiences but instead as an enriched alternative to email, text chat, and heads in square boxes. In other words, the metaverse is best thought of as a more immersive incarnation of the internet itself: “internet plus” as opposed to “reality minus.”
Read more here: Through the glass: Immersive internet for the enterprise