How Digital Twins Can Prevent the Metaverse from Becoming a Fad

Paul Foster, Founder, OnePlan

The Metaverse is going through a rough time. Although tricky to define, the amalgamation of technologies has long been touted as the future of tech. Learn how Digital Twins and the Metaverse could become essential partners to propel this technology into the mainstream.

The Metaverse is going through a rough time. Although tricky to define, the amalgamation of technologies has long been touted as the future of tech. Learn how Digital Twins and the Metaverse could become essential partners to propel this technology into the mainstream.

The last few years have seen unprecedented growth and investment in Metaverse technologies. It was only in 2021 that Bloomberg predicted that the global Metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024. So when Facebook decided to focus their efforts on the sector and changed its name to Meta, it felt like the next generation of technologies was arriving.

And yet, in the last few months, there’s been a downturn – the tech layoffs have yet to help matters, while analysts and consumers have felt that technological progress has not been as expected despite big spending. For example, Decentraland, the metaverse company combining virtual reality with real estate, has a valuation of over $1 billion but was shown recently to have as few as 42 users a day.

A prevailing opinion is that outside of the gamification of consumer experiences, the Metaverse is not solving serious problems at scale for customers. Instead, it’s commonly thought of as providing virtual consumer experiences, like a super-charged version of Second Life from a generation ago. But even with that audience segment, it has yet to pique the interest of Gen Z as experts thought it would. A recent research report by Piper Sandler shows that 50% of teens surveyed are unsure about “the Metaverse” or don’t have any interest and don’t plan to purchase a VR headset.

Metaverse acceptance

That continued commitment to virtual reality has plagued the Metaverse, with users wondering how useful these use cases really are. In addition, consumers don’t want to live in a headset just yet. So how do businesses engage with the Metaverse and avoid the same pitfalls their counterparts face?

Adopting one Metaversal tech makes a tangible difference: Digital Twins or virtual environments are replicas (of places, objects, and even humans) created to an extreme level of accuracy through imagery and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). They’re visual, interactive, life-like versions of their real-world “twin”. And they are proving enormously valuable in operational planning and improving efficiencies. Unlike VR, there is no need for a headset here, as they are accessible through websites.

This is the Metaverse’s more pragmatic commercial parallel, and according to Markets and Markets, the Digital Twin market will grow an estimated 15 times to $48 billion by 2026. Based on the real world, not a fictional world for gaming entertainment, this gives the Metaverse a resounding purpose – creating unparalleled value for organisations.

Researchers from the University of Twente in The Netherlands have found that this technology can improve city planning and coordination and make urban environments more sustainable. Venues from airports to stadiums and exhibition centres can now be managed in hyper-realistic, real-time virtualisations. Using big data and AI, Digital Twins presents the most accurate understanding of how to enhance output and improve a venue’s performance.

Operational changes can be made virtually before carrying out costly physical activities, while staff can be trained in various situations and scenarios. These can be more collaborative, with inputs from different areas of the venue team and partners and saves time and money through fewer site visits.

More than gaming

Many industries are embracing them already: Human digital twins are being used for personalised medicine – allowing researchers to test treatments and scenarios before prescribing them to patients and mitigating any risks along the way. NASA is using digital twin technology to bolster the safety and reliability of its future-generation vehicles. Digital twin tech is being used to visualise and plan cities to benefit urban planning, transport flow, security scenario plans, and major events.

Back to the venue example, as it’s one, I am involved with first-hand. Here, Digital Twin technologies are also helping to unlock commercial benefits. Venues are using them as a sales tool to attract sponsors, hospitality, advertisers, and media partners in a powerful new way. Organisations such as our partners at the LA Clippers use our Venue Twin offering to see 3D versions of their stadium as it’s being built, interact with it easily, and share it instantly with VIP buyers.

And last but not least is the sustainability benefit. Digital Twins solve organisations’ central challenge, which is how to operate with the least possible negative impact on the planet. Access to the digital twin of a warehouse, factory or venue through collaborative software that can be used remotely by all involved parties can massively reduce the need for site visits. Meetings can happen virtually with an even greater level of ‘fly-through’ access to the site as they’d have in person, therefore cutting associated CO2 of travel, amongst other sustainability benefits.

The Metaverse will be an exciting and important future frontier for organisations, and Digital Twin technology will underpin its success. Helping organisations move beyond fads into providing tangible benefits for their businesses and customers, it’s already proven to solve real business problems, increase sales for venues, and improve efficiencies. Cities, venues, and medicine are already adopting these ground-breaking solutions to industry challenges, and their importance will only grow as others take up their use.

Paul Foster, the founder of OnePlan

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