In the last four days, one of the most trending news, which captured headlines, and is still generating strong intrigue from technology aficionados to gen Z is Tamil Nadu couple’s Hogwarts-themed wedding reception, hosted in metaverse! Not only were they joined by 6000 guests from across the globe virtually, but the event was truly made special and intimate when the bride’s late father greeted the guests and blessed the couple via his digital avatar.
What is metaverse?
The metaverse is an interconnected, fully immersive three-dimensional (3D) network of always-on environments, where we can work, shop, play, socialize, entertain, and be entertained. It is enabled by virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality (VR/AR/XR), where we can be there, without actually being there! In a nutshell, it is the next generation of the mobile internet, which is persistent, immersive, 3D, and virtual.
Is the hype real?
Metaverse is touted to be the next-big-thing, and rightly so going by the investments it has garnered from companies across industries from gaming to telecom to retail, fintech, healthcare, education, luxury brands, and so on. According to estimates by Bloomberg Intelligence, today the metaverse opportunity is estimated at around USD 48 billion, which has the potential to grow at 45 percent CAGR over the next five years to reach over USD 800 billion. Morgan Stanley states that metaverse can ultimately create an addressable market of USD 4–8 trillion over the next few years.
Gaming companies like Roblox and Epic Games are the farthest ahead in building metaverses with a massive user base. Technology giants Microsoft and Meta have already invested billions to build the infrastructure, and are now developing ecosystems for metaverse worlds. Top technology firms in India recognize the potential and are investing to expand their offerings to include deep tech like Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, and augmented/virtual reality as part of metaverse. TCS has been piloting and investing in metaverse and has executed several proof-of-concepts and use-cases. HCL Technologies expects extended reality (XR) to scale up in a few years, with clients from aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and hi-tech companies adopting XR across use-cases, such as training, product development, repair, and maintenance. Infosys is focusing on building on native cloud, bringing businesses and content closer to the point of consumption. Developments in AI and ML and hardware innovation across AR/VR devices will also continue.
In recent months, many new partnerships have been formed – most recent being T-Series and Hungama announcing its foray into the metaverse through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Through this partnership, Hungama will create NFTs, rare collectibles, money-can’t-buy experiences and unlock special moments from T-Series’ vast catalogue of new and existing content. Close on the heels, Jio Platforms invested USD 15 million for 25-percent equity stake in Two Platforms Inc.– also known as TWO – a Silicon Valley-based AR start-up, with a focus on building interactive and immersive AI experiences.The development of metaverse and the broadening of virtual worlds are directly tied to connectivity. India will soon launch 5G services, facilitating increased speeds, increased capacity, ultra-low latency, and greater support to connected devices. As we move into the metaverse, vast amounts of critical data will be processed. Effective data collection and management should figure at the heart of services designed for the metaverse. Partnerships will play an even more important role as a route to value creation. The core categories poised for investment include digital infrastructure, 5G, hardware, networking, computing power, virtual platforms, payments, and content.
In the future, no single company is likely to run the metaverse, similar to today’s internet. It will be an embodied internet, operated by many different players in a decentralized way, ultimately creating an industry ecosystem.
All trends converge toward the metaverse. So, the question is not if the hype is real but when will this revolution scale-up. And, if the internet revolution has taught us anything, it is that if you are not ready to adapt, you will be left behind.