By Jane Thomason
We are heading for a Metaverse Age, a change that is creating new economies and ways of human interaction, merging the physical and the virtual. The powerful combination of game theory and blockchain is creating tokenized incentivization in virtual worlds.
3D internet pioneer Tony Parisi in his recent essay The Seven Rules of the Metaverse describes metaverse as, “the Internet, enhanced and upgraded to consistently deliver 3D content, spatially organized information and experiences, and real-time synchronous communication.” But it’s more than that, a metaverse has its own economy and currencies native to it, where value can be earned, spent, lent, borrowed, or invested interchangeably in both a physical or virtual sense and most importantly without the need of intermediaries. In the metaverse, we can exchange physical assets, economic assets, and content assets.
What will that mean? What will we do? What will life in the metaverse be like? The use cases are limited only by our imagination, let’s look at some of the early ones, recognizing we only scratch the surface and this list expands daily!
In the metaverse, new income streams are being created using Blockchain and GameFi. Play-to-Earn, Learn-to-earn, and Move-to-Earn could become a primary income for millions of people. Bloomberg reports that games like Axie Infinity and the metaverse are upending how we work, earn, and spend, but also how we live, plan, and run our lives – maybe even transforming how capitalism functions. We will see a new breed of metaverse economists emerging, who will oversee and plan the macroeconomics of metaverses, just as they do today’s physical economy.
The idea of being able to socialize and meet friends and feel like you’re really there with them in person, is very appealing, especially in these socially distanced times. In the metaverse, you can socialize, attend virtual concerts, travel, shop, go to the movies, and do normal everyday pursuits.
Perhaps the most advanced concept is from South Korea, where the government has introduced “Untact,” a policy that aims to spur economic growth by removing layers of human interaction from society. It was born in the pandemic but has gathered pace from healthcare, to business and entertainment. Even the civil service is going virtual. Seoul City plans to build a “metaverse” – where users can interact with digital representations of people and objects – and avatars of public officials will resolve complaints. 12 out of 15 Korean unicorn companies use non-face-to-face methods in their primary business. Fans create avatars where they can “meet” their favorites like Blackpink in a virtual space and receive virtual autographs.
Decentraland has already started to revolutionize people’s lives and interactions, and many more are being built. The metaverse will grow to include multiple cross-chain possibilities as the virtual economy grows in importance. These purely digital opportunities to make a living are inspiring a young generation to believe that the metaverse is the place to make their fortunes.
Beyond Seoul Metropolitan Government’s announcement to be the first major city to enter the metaverse, Barbados has announced it will open an embassy in Decentraland. In the metaverse, 3D avatars of employees can work together with digital whiteboards, digital workstations, etc, and their 3D avatars can meet face-to-face without any complex conferencing equipment.
The metaverse gives you a space where you can 3D-model virtually anything, and real-world specifications can be replicated via digital twin technology. This enables smarter problem-solving in industries like construction, architecture, healthcare, life sciences, and more. For example, architects might want to design and draw up multiple detailed mock-ups before finalizing a direction. It is possible to create an entire virtual campus inside the metaverse at a fraction of the investment required in the real world.
The metaverse can also provide a large-scale industrial workspace, where machines and systems can be tested through digital twins to detect possible failures and improvements before carrying them out in a physical environment. This is quite widely used in health care and increasingly we will see other industries adopting this approach as well.
Getting Health Care
Virtual health care accelerated during the pandemic and we expect to see more innovation. We have already seen AR and VR are emerging to improve medical education and training as well as processes and procedures. VR can take learners within the human body, providing a 360° view. Immersive experiences will be recreated from real surgery and real-time guidance can be provided in the surgeon’s field of view of the surgical site through integration with surgical navigation systems and fusion of data from multiple imaging sources.
Avatars will be created for more realistic consultations, personalized care, treatment and diagnosis through data interconnectivity, and we will use digital twins. Gamification will connect healthcare providers and patients, especially in wellness and fitness where AR is used to deliver smarter workouts with guidance from virtual instructors.
In Move-to-Earn games, players are incentivized to be active. Genopets use data tracked by smartphones or fitness wearables to advance the Genopet NFT in-game. Players can get rewarded for walking their dog, dancing in their room, running, or just going about everyday life. Genopets’ mission is to make staying active more rewarding through a fun Free-To-Play NFT game that allows players to earn.
It’s also been shown that VR can help improve the quality of life for people with dementia. Solutions involving VR and AR are already improving patient experiences and outcomes. Veyond Metaverse brings global healthcare professionals together for simultaneous education, training, and planning as well as collaborative medical procedures.
We are already seeing the creation of metaverse platforms geared towards the healthcare space as it holds tremendous potential for the transformation and improvement of healthcare.
As in health care, we expect to see innovation in education and its arrival in the Metaverse. Steve Grubbs founder of VictoryXR gives some great examples of what education can be like in the metaverse, providing incredible immersive experiences – anatomy students can get their own heart and make that heart 8-feet tall, step inside it, and learn while standing inside a human organ. A biology class can dissect animals over and over with no cost or smell. Astronomy students can step into a Star Trek-style transporter and take a spacewalk. History students can step onto a time machine and go back in time 40,000 years to walk among a herd of wooly mammoths, or travel to the Great Wall of China, and learn its history and engineering while walking around it.
Add blockchain and gamification and it is possible to see why today’s education models are moribund. The Studyum Foundation is building a platform to transform education into an immersive experience where learning is fun, success is rewarded, and data analytics target precision learning. The organization’s founder, Igor Dyachenko, said:
“Technology enables us to overcome barriers such as inequality, location, and unconventional learning styles, which obstruct people’s ability to reach their full potential.”
Studyum provides micro-lessons using 3D volumetric video delivered via avatars, celebrity coaches, and sports ambassadors (initial focus area), uses Blockchain technologies (multi-chain, smart contracts) and a comprehensive Tokenomics strategy, an NFT enabled rewards system for gamification to boost motivation, content engagement and community skills growth, a proprietary information architecture model combined with AI for personalization, together with an intuitive world-class UI/UX design to redefine how people interactively learn in the digital age. Studyum is based on the premise that new technologies have a vital role in making education accessible for the 57 million primary-aged children who remain out of school, and the one in four girls in developing countries who are not in school, and the 103 million youth worldwide who lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women. The potential is immense and the founders with the vision are building an educational approach that will be engaging and effective.
We are living in a Metaverse world – it’s already upon us. Cathie Wood of Ark Invest says the metaverse could be worth trillions and will affect the world in ways “we cannot even imagine right now.” The metaverse is not going away and indeed, it is accelerating. In the coming months, we will see many more things we will be able to do as the physical and virtual worlds converge.