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The metaverse is an exciting digital future! The metaverse is digital dystopia for manufacturing!

Feb. 16, 2023
The metaverse serves as a communal space for exchanging ideas.

By Vikas Khosla, executive vice president at Tavant 

The metaverse has the air of a comic book. What is it, really? And why is it the subject of so much discussion in the manufacturing world?

Today, the internet is accessed via the flat screens of our smartphones, tablets and laptops. We browse the web but are not immersed in it. Now imagine yourself in a virtual world, complete with your own avatar. You can socialize with friends and do nearly anything else you'd do in real life; this includes taking part in games, attending events, or even shopping. It’s an entire world that exists concurrently with the real world. 

The metaverse: Merging realities by blending physical and virtual

Tech giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft are working on metaverse technology tools. And tech companies aren't the only ones—Nike is creating a virtual world, Nikeland. The most prominent luxury labels, from Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Burberry and Balenciaga, seek ways to explore the power of the metaverse. 

With next-gen digital technologies, the virtual world has become a reality. The demand for virtual reality has gone up, and the industry represented by the metaverse is booming. 

This is the case with the manufacturing industry as well. The pandemic's disruption showed the critical nature of digital transformation within manufacturing as it seeks to increase its resilience. Businesses must prepare for 2025 by leveraging digital to develop predictive capabilities, exploring hyper-local concepts, infusing operations with purpose, embracing the metaverse, and transforming manufacturing into an experiential process.

It is predicted that the global metaverse market will expand at a CAGR of 41.7% from 2021 to 2030. The pandemic has sped up the emergence of virtual communities and led to an increased interest in the metaverse concept. According to the Bloomberg Intelligence study, the annual metaverse market will be worth $800 billion (€688 billion) by 2024. The metaverse is going to profoundly transform the way people work, play and live.

But in practical terms, how will metaverse impact average businesses, more specifically the manufacturing industry?

The convergence of metaverse & manufacturing—the possibilities of connected environments

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has created a convergence world where offline and online meet. This convergence is being made in the manufacturing industry as well. Witnessing the effects of Amazon, eBay and Shopify on e-commerce, you realize why consumer adoption of the metaverse might have earth-shaking effects on the manufacturing industry. 

In short, the metaverse has crucial elements that will significantly alter the manufacturing landscape. 

Here are a few highlights:

Users can easily drag and drop their assets into a metaverse framework’s physics-based simulation and quickly discover ways to make manufacturing safer or more efficient without undergoing extensive physical testing. With more precise measurements and superior CAD-like software, the entry barriers for designing low-cost, easy-to-build products are significantly lower. The metaverse serves as a communal space for exchanging ideas. It is extremely simple for various stakeholders to design a product, share it with manufacturers, and iterate based on feedback, thereby shortening the product life cycle.

More comprehensive, physics-based designs reduce the production margin of error. Lower churn rates for customers and lower return rates for defective products can be achieved with little impact on businesses. Customers will have greater visibility into the supply chain process thanks to 3D representations of how products are created, supplied and sold. 

This technology has the potential to significantly boost and optimize collaboration and communication between critical stakeholders. By 2025, next-generation manufacturing will be advanced enough for businesses to open factories and demonstrate their innovative capabilities to customers. Manufacturing with metaverse components will become a critical consumer touchpoint—a point of differentiation for brands—in the future.

Metaverse in manufacturing: It's not a sci-fi fad, it's unquestionably the next big thing

While the metaverse is still in its infancy in manufacturing, it holds enormous potential for transforming and enhancing industry. The first realistic step for manufacturers is to meet digital operations. They should harvest data from the processes, consolidate it, and broadly apply interoperability protocols for connecting it across the supply chain. However, issues regarding security and data privacy about the identity of users and challenges of convincing users to make payments in these environments are some key factors that might hamper the global metaverse market.

With these concerns in mind, the question arises: Will embracing a metaverse approach fit within the current wave of digital transformation or indicate the beginning of the next revolution in manufacturing? 

The metaverse offers significant advantages within Industry 4.0, particularly with training employees and accessing data. 

The metaverse is a major step toward the future of IoT usage both for manufacturers and their customers. But both must start implementing and investing in these next-gen digital technologies to achieve the vision of a connected, virtual reality industrial world. 

The metaverse is undeniably the next big tech revolution in manufacturing. It will boost productivity and efficiency, cut costs, and can help manufacturers achieve better overall results. Decision-makers must take advantage of the metaverse's benefits if they wish to stay competitive.