Metaverse: hype or the next big thing?

It’s not just since the Facebook group renamed itself Meta in October 2021 that the subject of the metaverse has taken on holistic importance. The experiences of the corona pandemic have also largely inspired digital applications.

At its core, the metaverse vision describes the transition from “flat” 2D media, which is mostly limited to what is seen on a screen, to immersive 3D media, through which people increasingly immerse themselves more in virtual and virtual worlds. content or environments as real to be felt. The Metaverse is a persistent and immersive 3D simulated world where different users interact simultaneously to enjoy entertainment, transact cryptocurrencies or work remotely. Actions in the metaverse between different users occur synchronously and in real time, there is interoperability between different applications. With its features of three-dimensionality, persistence, real-time and interoperability, the metaverse is considered the “next logical level of the Internet” and the “next big thing”.

The metaverse is still at the very beginning of its development. Experts always have mixed opinions when asked if and how quickly a metaverse would establish itself. Essentially, however, considerable economic and social potential is already seen in important areas of economic and social life: the world of work is increasingly permeated by the use of extended reality tools such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Reality), which means that digital elements (such as Artificial Worlds) can be linked to real elements (such as users or companies). The “industrial metaverse” develops digital twins for process optimization, virtual labs, virtual showrooms and 3D collaborations around the world. In education, hybrid human-AI solutions can combine the strengths of human and artificial intelligence to enable and integrate personalized learning into the learning process. In healthcare, the use of augmented reality and virtual reality can make operations less risky and 3D models can make a major contribution to simulation visualization, telepresence training, monitoring and health data management.

Further technological development cannot be adequately categorized without the importance of gaming technologies and their diffusion into the population for the development of a metaverse. Both the analysis from the supplier perspective and from the demand side in Germany point to a particular catalytic role of games for the emergence of the metaverse. The opportunities for a broad technology base in Germany are there: An evaluation of data from the crunchbase enterprise database, which contains mainly young companies and startups, assigns individual branches of industry to the different metaverse levels. The extraction from the database identifies more than 6,300 entries of companies whose profile offers services for individual levels of the metaverse, most of them at the technical infrastructure level (telecom domain with 2,646 active businesses as well as cloud and edge infrastructure (1,077), but also gaming (510)). In all metaverse levels, there is a clearly disproportionate share of small businesses. This shows, on the one hand, the importance of start-ups for technological breakthroughs and, on the other hand, the viable basis that has already been created for significant technological development in Germany. In politics too, this should be seen as a much more opportunity than before and supported accordingly.

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