Following significant shakeups in the tech world, metaverse applications have shifted purpose as we enter the second quarter of 2023. Originally billed as the hottest new thing, the shine has somewhat faded. This begs the question — where is the metaverse headed? With the tech industry tightening its belts and the concept losing momentum among consumers and the general public, does the metaverse still have value?
AR and VR technology stand to add significant value to many industries, from education to commerce. But whereas the initial conversation around the metaverse centered around what it would become and the promises it would fulfill, the current value of metaverse technologies and discourse is shifting. Headlines from early April include The Metaverse Is Quickly Turning Into the Meh-taverse and The Automotive Market Pivots Hard to Generative AI and the Metaverse.
Increasingly the value of the metaverse is being seen less in creating new products and experiences for consumers (though the use of metaverse technologies in gaming remains important) but rather in how it can assist industries and companies to achieve cost-saving measures. In the automotive industry, virtual reality allows for quicker and cheaper consumer testing by bypassing the prototype stage. Across the manufacturing industry in general, AR and VR enable companies to automate tasks. VR also yields more accurate prototypes, be it for a car or a manufacturing plant. Other companies have started using prototypes of stores to gather consumer feedback and understand consumer needs. Nestle, for instance, uses VR to gather information and prototype more inexpensively. The company created a store environment to assess how their pet food sells depending on the design and placement of the shelves. Using VR, they were able to quickly iterate on the store design to align it with their goals.
Just how in industrial sectors are using metaverse technologies in the examples above to make their business more effective and efficient, so too does metaverse technologies assist in making public policy issues and topics more accessible. For creative agencies, the value of metaverse technologies is evident as another piece of the production toolkit and proves its worth by being a more efficient way to communicate. By using VR or AR, it’s possible to communicate with audiences and key stakeholders with greater impact.
We can see an example of how AR can communicate complex ideas in a more effective manner in an example where coastal communities are using AR and VR to simulate the sea level rise experience to understand its threat to their region better. While charts, data points, and detailed predictions outline scientific findings clearly and concisely, it does not offer the same impact of tangible information — like being able to see an AR overlay of where the sea level rise will be in a decade’s time. Immersive metaverse technologies have the potential to allow more efficient communications with key stakeholders, consumers, and decision-makers. When discussing complex public policy issues, using AR and VR can distill them in a way that not only is easy to understand and digestible but also impactful in a way that other methods of communication are not.
In this ever-evolving economy, the long-term success of the metaverse now centers on how effectively its technology can improve a company’s bottom line through cost-saving, innovating efforts. While general enthusiasm for the metaverse may seem to be waning, the possibilities of AR and VR technologies remain significant.
Learn more about how to leverage AR and VR technologies in our recent interview with NJI’s VP of Media Production, Ryan Raybould.
Kate Phillips is an NJI Project Manager with a strong interest in innovation and public policy. She works across a global account portfolio supporting clients who are working at the leading edge of politics and the metaverse