In early October, Birmingham became the epicentre for all things tech as Birmingham Tech Week hit the city. It was the perfect blend of entrepreneurial spirit and inclusiveness: from Growth Summits, Black Women In Tech and Women in Tech Awards to Tech Leadership events, the BTW2022 sessions had something for inventors, innovators and investors.
The jewel in the week’s crown had to be the ‘Future of Tech showcase’. Not only did it have over 30 businesses offering technological solutions to issues like the energy crisis (CarbonTrack), mental wellness at work (Bloomwise) and prevention of price-fixing behaviours (Lexyfi), but keynote speaker Nick Rosa (Accenture) gave a comprehensive introduction to the metaverse.
What is the metaverse?
It is a virtual world, which simulates aspects of the physical world using Web3 technologies of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and digital currency. The ambition is that it will operate as a layer of digital content that connects the virtual and real world accessed by a variety of devices like mobile phones, laptops, AR/VR headsets.
How are metaverse technologies used now?
The most widely applicable use for metaverse technologies is hands-on training, where AR, VR and AI make learning a more practical and creative experience in a safe environment.
A successful VR-guided surgical operation in August to separate conjoined twins in Rio de Janeiro with direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, after planning and trialling techniques for months using VR projections, proved the promise for such technologies in healthcare.
In the industrial and enterprise sector, similar technologies improve product and design development as well as time to market. In 2020, BMW engineers donned AR headsets to check the fit of newly designed virtual parts of a real prototype vehicle, verifying and adjusting assembly processes for production.
Some companies have also improved after-market services by providing virtual guidance for technical hands-on work using metaverse technologies. For instance, Voith, the manufacturing company, uses digital twins to enable customers to monitor and optimise their mining conveyors and systems.
Rooted in social engagement, metaverse technologies have also proven useful in employee onboarding. Accenture’s “Nth Floor”, a cyberspace that includes replicas of the company’s physical offices in different countries, enables employees to interact with each other as avatars.
In gaming, immersive video games like Roblox and Fortnite host virtual music concerts attended by millions of users with whom different brands could engage.
Rosa anticipates that second (and third) hand car ownership will benefit from NFTs, their immutable nature being used to store all the data connected with a car. This could include first registration, servicing dates, part replacement, fuel efficiency, owner and accident history. All that information could be transferred with the car to the new owner’s mobile, allowing manufacturers to benefit from each resale, potentially bringing down the starting price.
Top tips if you’re considering joining the metaverse
Technophiles say a completely functional and integrated metaverse won’t exist until 2031.
However, given the future in metaverse is very different from that which vertical businesses were designed to operate in, and the use of its technologies can open up untapped markets, the need to evolve – and do so quickly – is crucial. So, what do you need to consider?
- Understand what the metaverse means to you your business and products.
- Identify your proposition – do you have a solution that will benefit consumers?
- Set a clear strategy that is geared to benefit your business and keep to it.
- Prepare your business and brand by investing and putting measures in place to protect them before you join the metaverse.
- Move when you are ready; don’t just jump in because everyone else is doing it.
It is undoubtedly an exciting time for the tech sector both in this universe and the metaverse. The team at HCR have their finger on the pulse of this rapidly changing environment, and you can always reach out to us for guidance.