Sanjeev Dahiwadkar is a serial entrepreneur in technology space who has built several companies in the last two decades with minimal external funding. Sanjeev has completed his Masters in Computer Science and started his entrepreneurial journey in 1999, when he co-founded MSTD, a software development firm focused on default service processes in the US. Under his stewardship, IndiSoft- a company he cofounded in 2005 in the US and was in helm till 2021- registered a 1500% growth in earlier years. Currently, he is heading three companies- ITShastra, Cognota Healthcare, and Moringa Techsolv as Founder & CEO.
Technology world is going gaga over the potential of metaverse in coming days. The use cases of metaverse in real life situations are also rising across the world. And India is no exception. A young couple from Tamil Nadu recently merged tradition and technology when they hosted their wedding reception through metaverse in February, making it the first in the Asian continent. Globally, the craze for metaverse technology is such that Mark Zuckerberg recently changed his company’s name from Facebook to Meta. Apple is expected to announce a high-end headset that mixes virtual reality and augmented reality. Also, Google & Microsoft are readying to launch metaverse products. Not only technology biggies, but gaming technology firms including Roblox, Unity, Epic Games among others are converging metaverse technologies for more immersive gaming experience. It seems no one wants to be left behind as most expects metaverse to be the future of internet.
A Little History:
To understand metaverse, we should look at history of internet. At the start of internet in late (19)70s, computers started “talking” to each other without being part of same network and then came the hyperlinks concept of connecting the information pages, websites, apps, social networks, and so on. The definition of “what internet is” kept on evolving over two decades as the new building blocks got invented and adopted by the users. Metaverse is also starting its evolution journey. Today, there is a lot of vagueness in “what metaverse is”. Augment reality, Virtual reality, avatar as a means of communication with society (virtual world) are still evolving. Hologram-based communication is just started and it not clear yet how far it will go or how it should be. Metaverse still means different things to different people. Therefore, clarity will emerge as more people start adopting it just like as more people started using google for search in early nineties (90s).
Immersive experience, rising use cases:
Metaverse technology is not a wholly new concept. Rather, it is an extension of virtual reality/ augmented reality (AR/VR), which is extensively used by video game companies. But it takes the virtual reality into the next level because it converges many technological applications under one umbrella. Artificial intelligence (AI), AR, VR, and blockchain have their role in development of metaverse technology. As 5G network is rolled out across nations with many planning to do so in the near future, metaverse technology will make customer experience more interactive and immersive in the coming years. So, as a technology, metaverse is here to stay.
The Bloomberg Intelligence data suggests that the global metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024 as compared to around $500 billion in 2020. Online game makers and gaming hardware are likely to drive the market opportunities, which are pegged at $400 billion by 2024. Live entertainment and social media are other two segments which will see maximum applications of metaverse technology.
Such bullish estimates are not only being made basing on a few sectors. Rather, metaverse technology is expected to touch many critical areas of human lives in the near future. For instance, there is a strong likelihood that future of work will be hybrid. Therefore, online communication through digital platforms is likely to see deep penetration of metaverse in the near future, making digital workplaces more real and interactive. Big investments in this regard hint at a metaverse that will open up the possibility of new forms of work called the “infinite office”. Similarly, metaverse’s applications in healthcare and education seem to be unlimited. During the COVID pandemic, the world has seen rapid adoption of telehealth platforms due to contagious risks. These telehealth platforms if can be integrated with immersive experience, then the diagnosis process will be a lot easier. The pandemic has also seen rapid migration to edtech platforms as educational institutions had to shut down world over to maintain social distancing measures. As this migration to virtual platforms is likely to stay in some way or other, teaching can be made more exciting by leveraging metaverse technology. This can also solve a lot of problems faced by many developing countries. Metaverse-integrated technology applications can reach the hinterland of developing nations with the provision of healthcare and education services.
While metaverse will touch these important areas in the future, it has already started bringing in a paradigm shift in many other sectors. Global retail industry is fast adopting metaverse technology-led applications to make the shopping experience seamless. Industry 4.0, introduction of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and many more such applications have also started emerging. So, the movement towards metaverse is likely to accelerate in coming years.
Robust security in virtual world a must:
Metaverse is part of the Web.3 movement whose time has come. Though there are potential competing visions that how it will evolve, most commentators agree that push towards more virtual world will fuel its growth. However, more virtual world comes up with its own set of risks with regard to cybersecurity threats. If a user can buy a digital asset in the virtual world through metaverse application, then his identity can also be stolen to conduct many nefarious activities in web. Therefore, companies have to design a robust cybersecurity architecture to make this virtual world safe and secure. Like any technology, metaverse can serve the mankind in various ways. It is just that we have to focus on our priority areas that can touch many human lives.
What the future holds:
Basic metaverse has already arrived. There is no question on that aspect. But is the current version final one for metaverse? Absolutely not! Next five years will bring a lot of changes to this evolving field. Some things will work & many others will require tweaking. It will be a very interesting journey indeed.