The world will see different digital universes coming together to create a worldwide web of the multiverse. What it would be like? What would be its impact on human life?
Within weeks of Facebook announcing the Metaverse, which in simple terms is a convergence of the digital and the physical space driven by the need for remote work and collaboration, a host of companies have jumped into the fray with their versions of it, and product companies are exploring how to leap into this new world with their products, services, and marketing. The world will witness the coming together of different digital universes created by companies – an era of multiverse each with its own unique experiences, the worldwide web of the multiverse.
While Facebook’s commanding marketing machinery has helped it to claim pioneer status of the idea, fact remains that many others have been delivering on it for quite some time without making much song and dance about it. In fact, Nvidia has been a year ahead of Facebook with the launch of its Omniverse, a virtual/augmented reality collaboration platform.
Nvidia is positioning the Universal Scene Description (USD) 3D content creation tool created by Pixar and leveraged by it in Omniverseto be the foundation, something like HTML, for its Omniverse and the multiverse. When the Internet started our experiences depended on what kind of browser we had and what kinds of things we had installed. HTML allowed for a common foundation for text, videos, and things like that. It solved the problems of the early internet. USD is going to be something similar feels Nvidia.
Beer with a digital twin
During the lockdown, Accenture (revenues: US$50 billion) made a “digital twin” of its headquarters welcome new employees during the pandemic. Over 10,000 employees have gone to more than 100 events Accenture has held using this. And at least Anheuser-Busch’s digital twin involves beer. Its digital twin is synchronized with actual brewery facilities, packaging machines, and information about supply chains.
Nike’s virtual apparel
Nike, the US footwear, apparel, and sports equipment company, with revenues of US$46 billion, has dived into this exciting play, taking the wraps off their plan to leverage this fascinating new platform. It recently revealed that it has filed seven trademark applications and plans to make and sell virtual apparel and athletic shoes. The company has already started hiring for virtual design roles. Brands like Warner Bros., Hyundai and Gucci have built their own virtual worlds.
Be a NASCAR player avatar
NASCAR, an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing, has a multi-year plan to get its brand in front of young gamers on the wildly popular platform Roblox. For starters, NASCAR is dropping a digital car in the platform’s breakout Jailbreak game and is selling apparel for players’ avatars. Players will also be able to design their own NASCAR uniforms as part of a fan contest, with the game’s developers acting as influencers to promote it on social media. We may be approaching a time when people will be willing to spend more on their virtual wardrobe than they do on real, physical clothing.
Microsoft’s mesh packs a powerpoint
Yes, Metaverse will have PowerPoint. Microsoft Teams will feature digital avatars from early next year, allowing users to share documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations in the Metaverse. The company is working on Mesh for Microsoft Teams. Since having to work from home became a reality, interpersonal interactions have gone south. While platforms like Teams help us stay connected, they don’t build relationships that you would normally make in the office.
With Mesh, Microsoft aims to add a holographic experience to Teams with AR/VR (augmented/virtual) capabilities to make that time spent on the internet more personal, engaging and fun. “Think of the metaverse as a new version — or a new vision — of the internet, one where people gather to communicate, collaborate and share with a personal virtual presence on any device,” reads a Microsoft press release.
Meta has also made progress in Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms, a Zoom-like meeting space that allows teams of up to 50 people to connect, meet and discuss. There is a basic difference between Zoom and Horizon Workrooms, the latter is based in the virtual world, where instead of seeing a face inside a box, you’ll be able to interact with real-time avatars or holograms of your friends/teammates and work with features such as a shared whiteboard, a shared VR computer, and the ability to bring your own desk to the virtual land, all from the comfort of your home.
700 companies use Nvidia’s Omniverse
Late last year the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturer, Nvidia, with revenue of US$16.6 billion, announced the availability of that platform, Omniverse Enterprise, through a US$9,000 annual subscription plan, and individual use offering downloadable for free. Since then, more than 700 companies, including BMW Group, CannonDesign, Epigraph, Ericsson, architectural firms HKS and KPF, Lockheed Martin and Sony Pictures Animation are using the beta version. More than 70,000 individual creators have downloaded the platform.
Digital twin city
Swedish telecom transnational organization, Ericsson, which revenues US$26 billion, uses Omniverse as a platform for developers to figure out how to propagate 5G throughout cities. The company built a digital twin of the city of Stockholm to figure out where to put antennas, which also allows the wireless infrastructure company to see simulations, and understand how they can address problems with different antenna deployment locations by enabling them to teleport from one antenna to another.
The American aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin, with revenues over US$65 billion, is using Omniverse to create digital twins of large wildfires to better understand how these fires start and spread, and how they might be better contained and managed.
Prominent among the newest Omniverse technologies and features outlined by Kerris was Omniverse Avatar, described as a platform for creating interactive (artificial intelligence) AI-based avatars that can power robots, intelligent virtual agents and other solutions. Avatar leverages Nvidia technologies in speech AI, computer vision, natural language understanding, recommendation engines and simulation technologies.
Nvidia’s Avatar platform is being used in Project Tokkio, a reference application for AI-enabled customer service avatars that would be placed in robots or virtual kiosks. Tokkio also employs other Nvidia tools like the Merlin deep learning solution for recommender systems, the Riva conversational AI platform, the Fleet Command tool for AI lifecycle management and the Metropolis SDK.
Also, in a demo of the company’s DRIVE Concierge AI platform, a digital assistant on the centre dashboard screen helped a driver select the best driving mode to reach his destination on time, and then followed his request to set a reminder once the car’s range drops below 100 miles.
A key use for the Omniverse Enterprise platform is the creation of digital twins of factories, office campuses, smart cities, and even larger environments – the entire Earth, to use a pretty large example. Digital twins are solving some of the world’s greatest challenges” by letting people collaborate in virtual models to test solutions that could then be applied to real-world situations.
Nevertheless, as the promise of multiverse heralds the arrival of a new business model, the need for cyber security, regulations, and framing the right regulations to govern this space arises. Otherwise, this could be the new wild wild west!
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(Abhijit Roy is a technology explainer and business journalist. He has worked with Strait Times of Singapore, Business Today, Economic Times and The Telegraph. Also worked with PwC, IBM, Wipro, Ericsson.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)