Metaverses and Iot: Evolution or Symbiotic Relationship?
Metaverses, also known as networks of 3D virtual worlds, are focused on social connections and promise multidimensional immersive digital experiences to all users. These virtual worlds blend virtually enhanced physical and digital reality, are persistent, decentralized, highly collaborative and interoperable.
Although nascent and fragmented, metaverses are already powered by a variety of technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, AI, spatial computing and IoT with the goal to make these virtual worlds as authentic and contextual as possible to each individual user in real-time.
In this article I will explore the role of IoT in the expansion of metaverses, focusing on synergies between IoT and metaverses, future metaverse use cases dependent on IoT, closing off with three thought provoking open questions for the readers.
Synergies between IoT and Metaverses
IoT data. Fundamental to the development of metaverses are capabilities to capture data from physical surroundings, mass ingest IoT data and represent this data in meaningful ways in the avenues of metaverses in real-time. IoT data also needs to be responsive and properly secured.
Digital twins (virtual representations that serve as the real-time digital counterparts of physical objects or processes). Digital twin technologies enable connectivity between physical components and their digital counterparts, connectivity created by IoT sensors that obtain, integrate and communicate live data feeds. The current growing appeal and investments in metaverses are driving breakthroughs in digital twin technologies that will pave the road for continuously more sophisticated metaverse use cases. IoT architectures. For metaverses to offer multidimensional immersive highly contextual and interactive digital experiences to all users, they require increasingly higher resolution input from the physical reality. This increases the demand for augmented IoT architectures. Several IoT architectural layers demand more technological breakthroughs to support the expansion rates of metaverses, such as the connectivity and interaction (e.g., sensors, robots, wearables, extended reality XR devices), computation (e.g., smart edge, AIoT, 5G) and data and information layers.
Future Metaverse Use Cases Dependent on IoT
Metaverses and eventually the metaverse will supposedly augment the quality of decision making in humans, while minimizing the amount of mental energy required to make educated decisions. Foundational to achieving this is the seamless interoperability of VR, AR and IoT data, which enables new sophisticated use cases capable to enhance the lives of people in digital and physical realities, and even solve real world problems.
Augmented collaborative workspaces with improved design for interactive experiences at scale will enable individuals and enterprises to learn, socialize and attend events in the metaverse.
Renewable energy supplies will rely on real-time data fed by IoT platforms connected to e.g., solar panels, wind turbines, weather sensors, sub-production systems, distribution and energy grid systems, where the metaverse enables data management and processing at scale.
Immersive learning and training. In real-world situations e.g., severe malfunctions, extreme weather, (cyber) attacks through spatial awareness in virtual simulations using digital twins in the metaverse. Will allow to develop and test a multitude of approaches for real world situations, both for humans and machines to detect, respond and limit the impact in real life. In manufacturing, workers will be trained remotely to familiarize themselves with machine operations. For major infrastructure projects, engineers and architects will utilize digital twins to simulate real-time feedback to physical assets under construction. Work safety of manufacturing personnel will improve with augmented situational awareness for critical systems maintenance driven by streaming IoT data into metaverses. Workers will be timely informed of perilous conditions so that they limit the impact in real life.
“For metaverses to offer multidimensional immersive highly contextual and interactive digital experiences to all users, they require increasingly higher resolution input from the physical reality. This increases the demand for augmented IoT architectures”
Predictive maintenance in e.g., manufacturing, logistics, transportation will benefit from enhanced identification of assets and sub-components states in line with applicable maintenance procedures and protocols, driven by VR, AR and IoT data streaming in the metaverse.
Large scale simulations for long-term planning. The metaverse will eventually become a reflection of the physical reality, brought to life by digital twins of real-world objects and personas. The metaverse will probably become the most complex virtual simulation environment for governments, enterprises and individuals to run long-term analysis and planning scenarios to determine the most optimal approaches and responses. The metaverse will enable involved parties to link these approaches and responses to changes in the real world (e.g., humanitarian crisis, population income gap, climate change, new and re-emerging diseases, terrorism). This way humans will anticipate most optimal responses to events well ahead of time, in a continuous learning loop.
As the adoption of metaverses increases with more engaged users,
1. Will the identity management for both humans and machines keep up and effectively mitigate risks posed by rapidly expanding metaverses?
2. How will this impact the number and severity of personal and social disorders in humans?
3. How will neuromining (applying behavioural intelligence and machine learning techniques to analyse and influence human behaviour at scale) affect human decision making?
All in all, I have no doubt metaverses powered by IoT and cutting-edge technologies will ultimately create future multidimensional experiences that eventually feel as normal as the physical world around us.