The tech industry’s announcements about the #Metaverse have increased the curiosity of many consumers, more and more people are trying out VR goggles.The German newspaper Handelsblatt expressed the view that for the subsidiary Oculus, the renaming of the parent company Facebook to Meta could hardly have been more successful. After all, the announcement by company founder Mark Zuckerberg that he would be putting all of his company’s energy into the development of a Metaverse in the coming years alone has brought the VR glasses manufacturer surprisingly high sales over the holidays.
Several market analysts estimate that the app needed to operate the Oculus glasses has been downloaded around 1.8 to two million times worldwide since Christmas. At times during the holidays, the Oculus app even topped the download leaderboards in the Apple and Google app stores. It is needed to set up the glasses and is therefore considered an indicator of sales figures.
It seems that the tech industry’s vague announcements about the Metaverse have piqued the curiosity of many consumers. While VR glasses were long considered a niche technology that could at best be used for video games or high-tech applications in industry, the devices are now becoming increasingly popular, contrary to the expectations of many experts – even though the Metaverse might not become reality for several years.
Even for industry experts, the success is therefore a surprise. The sudden rise of the Oculus app shows that virtual reality (VR) applications are more widespread than previously assumed, writes Jefferies analyst Brent Thill in a recently published study. Now, investment in the Metaverse in particular is “critical” to attracting younger users to VR games.
VR glasses are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. According to a survey published by the industry association Bitkom last week, 17 per cent of respondents said they use VR glasses from time to time. At the same time, 21 percent of the non-users said they definitely wanted to use such devices in the future. Another 28 per cent are at least considering it.
For some time now, virtual reality has been demonstrating its diverse possibilities in gaming, construction and industrial applications,
says Sebastian Klöß, Head of Consumer Technology & AR/VR at Bitkom in an interview with German Handesblatt. With the Metaverse, the next development step is now imminent, which will give the industry further impetus.
For the vision propagated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and industry colleagues such as Epic boss Tim Sweeney, new types of devices such as VR glasses play a decisive role. In the long term, it is essentially about creating a three-dimensional digital image of reality, which can then be expanded at will to include virtual spaces and objects.
Blockchain to make virtual objects tradable
If you believe Meta’s promotional videos, it will be possible in the future to attend concerts with friends while one is at home and the other is in the concert hall. “In order to immerse oneself completely in this virtual world, interact with others and create virtual objects, there is no way around VR glasses,” says Bitkom expert Klöß.
In the process, the metaverse is expected to create an entire economy around virtual objects. Similar to digital works of art that can be traded as individual pieces via “non-fungible tokens” (NFT), virtual objects should also be able to identify their origin in the metaverse in order to be considered originals. Adidas, for example, has already developed a virtual collection that is sold and traded via NFT – and is thus limited.
If Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg’s vision is anything to go by, an entire economy based around digital spaces and objects will emerge in the long term. The Metaverse is about “building a much larger creative economy”, the manager explained at his presentation last year.
As with any technology, the more users have devices, the more attractive a platform becomes for content and app developers. At the same time, a large variety of content and apps ensures that more consumers decide to buy a device.
However, an estimate by the strategy consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) from last February shows that this process can happen very quickly. According to this, the global market volume for VR applications and devices will increase tenfold from 30.7 billion US dollars to 297 billion US dollars between 2021 and 2024. This estimate was made before the hype around the Metaverse really began.
Meta and Microsoft are working on the metaverse
Even if this long-term goal is still many years in the future, users can already see individual building blocks of this future metaverse. Gaming platforms such as Roblox or Fortnite (Epic), which can already be entered with VR glasses, are the most advanced – even if the experience is limited to virtual space.
In addition to video games, VR glasses can also be used for digital meetings, which should offer a more personal experience than video conferences. Here, the future link with reality can already be foreseen. Examples of this are the meta-platform Horizon and the Microsoft service Mesh.
In both cases, the companies are relying on so-called mixed reality technologies to integrate parts of the physical workplace where the user is sitting into the digital space. This should, for example, enable typing on a real keyboard during a virtual meeting without the user having to take off the glasses.
“Only seven percent of active users stated that they had used VR glasses at work.” - Bitkom survey
However, VR glasses at the workplace are still one of the rarer application scenarios, at least in Germany. In the Bitkom survey, only seven percent of active users stated that they had used VR glasses at work. In contrast, the devices were used much more frequently for video games (77 percent) or virtual travel (71 percent). Some metaverse space for improvement… 😬
Source: Handelsblatt, TechCrunch
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