By David Clare, Founder and Managing Director, The Monarchs
In 2020, when Facebook, soon to be Meta, announced it was going all-in on the metaverse, it caused quite a stir. The hype surrounding virtual reality (VR) and the concept of a metaverse had never been more substantial. The company’s decision to go all in on this emerging technology was a pivotal moment in the industry.
Meta’s launch signalled that the metaverse was set to become a significant player in the future of the tech world. Everyone was excited about the potential of immersing themselves in virtual worlds, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic.
The possibilities seemed endless, and Meta was on a real high. However, the hype has dialled down since then, and many are left wondering why the metaverse failed to take off as expected.
Indeed, the metaverse is an incredible technology that has the potential to revolutionise the way we experience, communicate, and think. For instance, thanks to the immersive videos, museums, worlds, and futuristic gaming experiences that can be created in the metaverse, the possibilities for entertainment and education are endless.
However, with any ground-breaking technology, the porn industry also pushed the boundaries of what the metaverse could be used for. This has sparked debates around ethics and appropriate use of the technology and raised concerns about how to police content on metaverse devices and platforms safely.
Nevertheless, it was and is still clear that the metaverse has enormous potential to change how we interact with digital content and the possibilities for creating unique and immersive experiences, which are truly exciting.
While the metaverse holds tremendous potential, it has failed to live up to the hype generated in 2020. One significant issue plaguing the metaverse is the difficulty of access.
Indeed, the headset required for entry into the metaverse starts to feel heavy after prolonged use, making it a cumbersome experience. The space needed to use the technology is another major obstacle, as is the issue of trip hazards and confusion regarding balance. Furthermore, the lack of people on the services creates a less engaging and less attractive user experience.
These challenges have made it difficult for the B2C metaverse to gain traction, leading to the demise of what was once expected to be a game-changer in the tech industry.
As a result, Meta’s stock took quite a hit. As we all know, the company was even forced to make significant layoffs, indicating again that the metaverse failed to deliver its initial promise.
My research found that, since 2022, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of times the term was searched. This is a clear indication that consumer interest in the metaverse is waning. However, the business use case, the B2B metaverse, is a different story.
The potential for creating unique and engaging experiences for businesses is enormous, and the benefits of the technology are also numerous. So perhaps the metaverse is not dead; instead, it is evolving in a different direction.
For example, within the hotel and events industry, the company RendezVerse (disclosure: a client of mine) allows hoteliers and venue owners to showcase their event space, hotel rooms, and so on to event planners, all from the comfort of their desks. Creating digital twins of event spaces and exploring them in the metaverse is not simply a gimmick but adds real business value. It means rooms can be booked and not left open for visits. No one needs to travel, saving time, cost, and carbon emissions. And for layouts, furniture, and lighting, all can be adapted in real-time – no imagination required.
Gravity Sketch is another prime example of how the B2B metaverse revolutionises the design industry. This metaverse allows designers to create and collaborate on 3D designs in real-time, regardless of their geographic location.
As the need for physical prototypes is eliminated, the design process is streamlined, resulting in significant cost savings and time efficiencies. Furthermore, the platform offered by Gravity Sketch facilitates concurrent work on the same project by multiple designers, making collaboration seamless and efficient.
As a final example, the healthcare industry is also seeing huge benefits thanks to its use of the metaverse. For instance, VR experiences train medical professionals in a virtual environment. This eliminates physical training facilities and provides more comprehensive and immersive training experiences.
Companies such as Immersive Touch allow for the metaverse to be used for simulations of complex medical procedures, providing doctors and nurses with hands-on training that was previously impossible. Meanwhile, Vicarious Surgical is taking this further, with VR headsets being used to control robotic arms in real-life surgery situations.
The triumph of these B2B applications of the metaverse shows us that, while the technology may not have lived up to the hype within the consumer space, the B2B metaverse is thriving, adding real value for business and revolutionising how industries operate. So long live the B2B metaverse.