Contrary to popular belief, Facebook did not introduce the concept of the metaverse in 2021, when the company made announcements about its plans to build a metaverse platform. The term ‘metaverse’ is over thirty years old, since it was first introduced in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’. It was used to indicate a virtual reality space that enabled people to interact with each other and with virtual objects in a shared, online environment. The concept has ever since been popularized and used in the scope of various media announcements, movies, TV shows, video games, and technology industry discussions.
The term has been revisited during the last couple of years, following Facebook’s plans to invest in the development of the metaverse. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the metaverse as “a virtual environment where people can be present with each other in a new kind of social experience’. Facebook’s Metaverse vision involves the creation of a shared, immersive virtual space where people can work, learn, play, and connect with others from anywhere in the world.
Beyond Facebook’s announcement, the global interest on the metaverse is reviving due to recent technological advances that make the development of robust metaverse applications easier than ever before. These include advances in networking technologies (e.g., 5G communications), distributed ledger technologies that are commonly known as “blockchains”, as well as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Extended Reality (XR) and other immersive technologies. Leveraging on these advances, several companies have announced plans to build their own versions of the metaverse. In this context, there are also industrial organizations that are considering the development of extended reality worlds in sectors like manufacturing, energy, oil and gas, and mining. These worlds are part of a new metaverse concept for industrial enterprises that is known as “industrial metaverse”.
The term ‘industrial metaverse’ refers to virtual worlds that are designed specifically for industrial and commercial purposes. In the scope of an industrial metaverse, companies and organizations can create and operate virtual versions of their products, services, and facilities, towards conducting business and interacting with their customers. The Industrial metaverse can therefore empower a wide range of use cases including:
The development, deployment and adoption of industrial metaverse applications is based on VR/AR/XR technologies that enable the development of virtual worlds. However, the industrial metaverse is also greatly propelled by recent advances in various technologies, including:
Overall, the industrial metaverse is an emerging concept that has the potential to transform the way companies and organizations conduct business and interact with customers and partners. As virtual technology continues to advance, we can expect to see more companies and industries adopting this approach to enhance their operations and stay competitive. These are some good reasons why companies must stay up to date with respect to the industrial metaverse and its enabling technologies.
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