By renaming itself Meta in 2021, Facebook was making a strategic shift towards the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg’s group can count on its own VR headsets (formerly Oculus) and new developments in that context. Including their fun Horizon Worlds platform or haptic gloves development.
Meta certainly touted the metaverse concept, but some of the technologies that cover and underpin it already existed. In addition, other major tech players have also begun to undertake similar projects, articulated around connected and accessible virtual worlds using immersive technologies of extended reality (XR), a term that encompasses augmented, mixed, and virtual. Of course, we’re thinking of Nvidia, which, with its platform for creating 3D universes and Omniverse digital twins, is no longer just positioning itself as a hardware supplier of powerful graphics chips. For its part, Microsoft has boasted for a few months that it is “at the forefront of the corporate metaverse”, which exploits its Hololens helmets or its platform to create shared mixed-reality experiences called Mesh. And to give itself even more resources in the metaverse, the Redmond firm bought video game publisher Activision Blizzard for more than $68 billion.
The many layers and actors of the metaverse ecosystem
Alongside Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia, the metaverse ecosystem has many other players, active in the same niches (XR devices, processors, platforms for creating virtual worlds), but also many others. In a recent article, the consultancy CBInsights proposed to list them.
In terms oftechnological infrastructurein addition to microconductors, the metaverse can rely on 5G and low-frequency networks, cloud and edge computing.
Regarding the access devicesmany start-ups and established manufacturers are investing in the field of haptic interfaces and headsets, but also in holographic technology and connected eyewear (including Magic Leap, which has refocused its strategy towards B2B).
in the niche of tools to create virtual worlds, Unity or Blender are among the most popular 3D design engines. Also worth mentioning are the 3D modeling tools and those specialized in creating avatars or even capturing video of the real-world experience. Not to mention the AR development kits offered by the Niantic studio, to whom we owe the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Niantic has also invested hundreds of millions to create an ecosystem around its vision of a “real-world metaverse” based on reality.
The metaverse is also emerging as a new commercial space that demands a infrastructure for financial transactions. The means of payment depend on the type of virtual world visited, with cryptocurrencies and NFTs being preferred in the decentralized metaverses (based on blockchain, like Decentraland). This is where cryptocurrency trading platforms, dedicated wallets such as the Metamask and NFT markets (including the better known OpenSea) come into play. On the other hand, within centered metaverses (controlled by a single company or entity), traditional payment companies will continue to be highly relevant, according to analysts at CBInsights.
The metaverse ecosystem is also composed of a layer of actors that develop goods and services, as well as experiences many. Starting with immersive reality video game publishers. Startups specialize in creating events and products for the metaverse, including concerts, fashion accessories and virtual real estate. Other start-ups are betting on immersive workspaces or working on immersive virtual reality offerings more akin to the theme park experience, such as Dreamscape Immersive, a Geneva-based company.
Benchmark: The Metaverse Could Be Technology’s Next Trillion Dollar Opportunity: These Are the Companies Making It Real, CBInsights 2022