October 25, 2022 | Updated: May 11, 2023
For the past year, the metaverse has been one of the most hotly debated topics in tech. To some, the idea of a fully immersive digital experience that enables multiple users to share experiences in augmented reality and virtual reality seems so far away that it isn’t worth talking about.
But the building blocks of the metaverse are all around us, propelled in part by the growing and increased reliance of digital connections in our personal and professional lives that was accelerated by the pandemic.
New developments are being announced every day, with 37% of technology executives surveyed for “The Impact of Technology in 2023 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study” identifying the metaverse as one of next year’s top five most important areas of technology.
So what can we expect?
Connectivity may drive development over the next year. The survey found that connectivity may be more important than hardware when it comes to the metaverse. When asked to indicate which innovations for advancing the metaverse in 2023 they considered very important, 71% of respondents said 5G and ubiquitous connectivity – higher than VR headsets (58%), augmented reality glasses (58%) and haptic devices that stimulate touch (56%).
One reason 5G is important: Fast data transfer speeds will give users a more immersive experience with fewer lags.
“5G’s low-latency technologies enable near-real time representation of images and sound,” said IEEE Senior Member David Witkowski.
Don’t Count Hardware Out. While ubiquitous connectivity will facilitate smoother interactions, advances in computing power are likely to make VR headsets lighter, more energy efficient and ultimately, more comfortable, according to IEEE Senior Member Eleanor “Nell” Watson.
She noted that high-powered chips in the 3-nanometer and 5-nanometer class may foster better hardware.
“This rendering power will enable more sophisticated processing of 3D worlds,” Watson said. “But the greatest sticking point in VR is lenses. Plastic lenses are cheap, but ineffective. Bringing the price down could enable a greatly improved experience.”
Some see the metaverse as a sustainable technology platform. We like to think of the metaverse for games and entertainment. But businesses are increasingly seeing the possibilities of virtual worlds that model energy-intensive processes before building a prototype.
Daozhuang “Johnny” Lin, IEEE Senior Member, said that making multiple simulations before using energy on a real-world test could lead to lower carbon emissions.
“The next great metaverse breakthrough will use VR to make industry more efficient,” Lin said.
A strong majority of survey respondents – 92% agree, including 50% that strongly agree – that metaverse-related technologies will be major contributors to reducing carbon emissions because they allow simulations in cyberspace instead of using traditional energy to conduct tests. A second finding reinforces that datapoint: 98% of respondents said digital twin technologies will be important in 2023, (including 68% who said very important), to efficiently design, develop and safely test product prototypes and manufacturing processes.
Hybrid work may become a little more immersive. Remote work is here to stay, but companies say they are doing more to keep people connected, with 91% of respondents agreeing that their companies are actively adopting metaverse technology strategies in 2023 to bring employees together for corporate training across offices, conferences and hybrid meetings. Along these lines, over three-quarters (76%) of global technologists say that 26-75% of interactions with colleagues, customers and management at their company will be conducted virtually in 2023.
“The Impact of Technology in 2023 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study” surveyed 350 CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and other technology leaders in the U.S., China, U.K., India and Brazil at organizations with more than 1,000 employees across multiple industry sectors including banking and financial services, consumer goods, education, electronics, engineering, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, retail, technology and telecommunications.
Learn more: While the metaverse continues to evolve, it’s still in its infancy. If you’d like to learn more about key concepts in the metaverse, check out this webinar from the IEEE Standards Association’s Metaverse Congress: Demystifying and Defining the Metaverse.