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Are We on the Edge of an Enterprise Metaverse?

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The immersive platform is the latest XR solution for the US military's digital transformation

Much has been made of the metaverse as an emerging marketing, entertainment and gaming channel. A global market valued at $47.48B, the metaverse is expected to achieve a nearly 40% CAGR, growing to an astounding $678.8B by 2030, with some estimates showing growth projections into the trillions of dollars.

If you look at Mark Zuckerberg’s version of the metaverse, it is truly a virtual world – an alternative playground for consumers. Others have a similar vision. For instance, in 2021, South Korean telecom provider (CSP) and 5G Open Innovation Lab partner SK Telecom announced ifland, a representative Metaverse platform built to leverage their 5G platform. Ifland users can create and customise virtual avatars capable of engaging in rich communication with others, and participate in a variety of virtual worlds and experiences from concerts to conferences and personal meet-ups.

There is a segment of the consumer population that is very keen on this interpretation of the metaverse. There’s a lot of interest, speculation and conversation happening about the topic, but at the same time, the number of individuals actually participating in the metaverse is small. There’s still not a great deal of content for people to interact with, and the experience, which requires bulky headsets and such, is still quite awkward and kludgy.

But let’s imagine for a few minutes that these barriers to metaverse adoption are resolved. And they will be. This will unlock potential not just for consumers, but for enterprises to leverage the metaverse for forms of digital transformation that currently just glimmers in some chief innovation officer’s eye.

It’s these enterprise use cases that get our ecosystem most excited. From digital twins to simulate manufacturing environments or to conduct complex industrialized training, to virtual surgeries and holographic surgeons and patients, through to simulated transportation and logistics environments, the enterprise metaverse can be applied to solve some of the biggest challenges facing business and society and positively impact human life, public safety and the workings of our economy.

Those inklings of capability can be found right within our own 5G Open Innovation Lab’s innovation network. Here are the stories of just a couple of startups in our world that are actively working to transform the enterprise metaverse into a reality:

  • Proximie, a metaverse startup working in healthcare, allows clinicians to virtually ‘scrub in’ to any operating room or cath lab from anywhere in the world. By empowering clinicians the globe over to share their skills in real-time, Proximie can help to reduce variation in care and ensure every patient receives the best healthcare every single time.
  • Taqtile, a startup focused on the “industrial metaverse” designs software that clients from SpaceX to UPS have used to build AR or VR work-assistance tools for training skilled workers operating in specialized areas. In one case, a factory used Taqtile’s technology to train employees to use a lathe in three days, a process that normally would have taken weeks. Other real-world applications of Taqtile’s solution include Hololens-guided military tank repair; step-by-step virtual guidance for pharmaceutical employees on equipment sterilization; and headset-guided training instructions for workers who are conducting cell tower repairs at height.
  • Future Sight is creating augmented, mixed, and reality (AR/MR/XR) software for the Air Force, Space Force, private aviation, and commercial airlines. The company’s Kantana XR mixed reality for workflow management provides front-line workers with digital step-by-step guidance for tasks, coupled with progress tracking.

So what will it take to move the metaverse from vision to reality and mainstream adoption within the enterprise? Will this change begin in 2023? That’s yet to be determined. But there are some things we at 5G Open Innovation Lab believe need to happen for that to be the case.

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