January 25, 2022
Increased reliance on digital twins, new data architectures and enhanced security protocols could define the overlap between the Internet of Things and the metaverse.
Good afternoon! As the metaverse continues to grow, we asked the experts to think about how IoT will play into its development or how the evolution of the metaverse itself could impact IoT's underlying technology. Questions or comments? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at GE Digital
I see two dimensions where the metaverse will have an impact on IoT, particularly related to the use of Digital Twins (learning AI-based software representations of a physical asset or system):
- Enhanced, real-world training: The scale and authenticity of training on real world extreme situations (e.g., severe weather or cyber events) that can be done through virtual simulations using digital twins in the metaverse, allow us to develop and test training approaches in situations that we cannot do in the real world. As virtual environments in the metaverse evolve to more closely reflect reality, training simulations will help prepare people and AI/software to work together to better detect problems and mitigate impact in real life.
- Better and smarter long-term planning and near-term response: As the metaverse becomes more populated with digital twins of real-world items (e.g., vehicles, buildings, factories, people), the metaverse system will more closely reflect our real world. This system-of-system complex virtual simulation will allow us to run various long-term planning scenarios and determine the most optimized designs for our energy, transportation and healthcare systems, and to dynamically operate these approaches as the real-world changes (e.g., more renewable sources, new diseases, population migrations or demographic changes). In addition to long-term planning, these simulations will help teams of humans respond to current events and resolve a problem using monthly, weekly or day-ahead planning, and then utilize AI to learn from the result and improve the response during the next event.
CEO at Magic Leap
The acceleration of IoT platforms and the data streams they can provide will serve as critical building blocks for the metaverse, and ultimately a more immersive, interconnected world. While it’s often lost in the hype around virtual reality, the true value of the metaverse is AR integration — in other words, the ability to integrate and overlay digital content onto physical environments. Central to the metaverse’s success, however, will be the seamless interoperability between AR and IoT data to unlock new, advanced applications that will help solve real-world problems. For designers and engineers, this could mean leveraging digital twins to simulate real-time feedback to physical buildings under construction. For manufacturers, it could involve using data overlays to improve field service operations or machine repairs. Enabled by AR and IoT, the metaverse will establish an entirely new precedent for work and collaboration, allowing enterprises to operate at much greater speed and scale.
Chief Evangelist at Software AG
What will probably make or break the metaverse will be its capability to capture data from its surroundings, including mass ingestion of data from the Internet of Things. This data not only needs to be represented in a meaningful way in the metaverse, but also must be responsive and properly secured. As a result, companies may harbor fears of releasing control of physical assets to remote operators, but the applications can be transformational, particularly with IoT digital twins, i.e., digital representations of real-world entities. Digital twin technology requires scanned objects to be incorporated with real metadata and live data feeds through IoT sensors. With the current interest and investment flowing into the metaverse, many challenges in digital twin implementation will be overcome, opening the door to more advanced use cases. For example, renewable power supplies will rely heavily on real-time data fed to IoT platforms connected to weather sensors, solar panels, wind turbines, battery management systems and grid systems. The metaverse will allow this level of data management at scale, allowing for optimized sustainable power use.
Chief Technology Officer at PTC
IoT is the internet of 3D physical things. The metaverse adds a 3D user interface to our flat desktop and mobile computer, providing a more tailored user interface environment for IoT. As such, the metaverse brings the physical and digital worlds together, allowing people and things to collaborate more intuitively with complex systems in person or afar. The metaverse, as a 3D interface for IoT, will make the physical and digital indistinguishable and therefore augment our human ability to make better-informed decisions with a minimum of mental energy and training. IoT in the metaverse will feel as normal as the physical world around us always did.
Technical Solutions Architect, Industrial IoT at World Wide Technology
The metaverse being an immersive virtual environment that is dependent on high-resolution input from the physical world will certainly drive demand for enhanced IoT architectures.
Connecting the digital senses of an environment or a particular context call upon the essence of IoT and what it was conceived to provide. Processing raw IoT data so that it may be consumed in real time by the metaverse is an area that we will see shift and develop as the needs of the metaverse become more clear.
For example, the industrial space is already seeing AR/VR driving demand for streaming data for the identification of assets, parts of those assets and maintenance and safety procedures to maintain them. Linking streaming IoT data into the metaverse, personnel can safely maintain critical systems with enhanced situational awareness not available otherwise. Metaverse-enabled IoT data will provide temperature, pressure, proximity, operational State, etc. that would be used to further enhance procedural safety by informing personnel of hazardous conditions, providing a true 360 view of their environment.
The outcomes achieved through the interaction of IoT and the metaverse can be measured and improved to enhance productivity and safety.
Principal at Deloitte Consulting
“Metaverse” as a technology as well as a business framework is a work-in-progress. It represents an evolving style of experiences and services on top of a new technology architecture, and a probable decentralized value creation and exchange model.
Several future scenarios are vying for mindshare, wallets and talent. Regardless of how scenarios unfold, metaverse evolution will depend heavily on several core technologies including IoT, and vice versa. Here are examples of the symbiotic relationships of metaverse and IoT across the three layers of IT architecture:
- Interaction: Highly contextualized metaverse-style experiences that blur the line across physical and digital will likely not only be delivered through extended-reality devices, but also leverage and extend many of the core technologies of IoT devices, such as environmental sensors, smart wearables, AIoT-embedded vehicles and robots, etc. E.g., smart manufacturing: The use of IoT technologies (e.g., motion sensing, AI-embedded edge and customized data collection sensors) would be critical to build 3D digital twins and create spatial awareness for further interactions with simulations expected in the metaverse environment.
- Computation: Large-scale deployment of 5G and smart edge/ AIoT will enable and accelerate the delivery of sophisticated metaverse use cases such as smart transportation management (AR + AI + 3D digital twin + operational management), remote field maintenance and delivery, among others.
- Information: Metaverse brings a sharp focus on the need for improved design for interactive experiences in consumer and enterprise environments, which will continue to drive demand for specialized information-processing technologies currently found in IoT.
VP of Enterprise, Mobility & IoT at AT&T
What’s really exciting about the metaverse is that it will allow users to enter a completely virtual realm that feels real. This may fundamentally change the way that businesses and consumers experience, interact with and analyze the world. One of the ways to take advantage of the metaverse is with IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality and other emergent technologies, like a headset for example. For the metaverse to be as experientially optimal as possible, the data from all the different technologies, IoT included, must work together. Special sensors, powered by IoT connectivity, will allow users to interact in ways never seen before.
People don’t want to be limited in where and how they can take advantage of these new experiences, so this makes IoT crucial for the metaverse to function. For example, in the manufacturing space, workers can be trained remotely to familiarize themselves with machine operations before being on site handling actual machines in production.
The metaverse also becomes even more “meta” with more data, thus an increase in the number of collection points (IoT) can increase the ability to enhance and get more out of experiential goals. Then, when you add in 5G’s ability to support more endpoints, you will be able to supply the amount of sensor data that’s being collected which will inevitably enhance the interactions between a virtual and physical world. Add edge computing to the mix, which brings distributed computing and processing power closer to each user, the optimal metaverse experiences will become even more of a reality.
President and General Manager at One Identity
As the metaverse gains traction, and new usage and access points evolve alongside it, the identity landscape will grow exponentially – opening up new gateways to potential bad actors. Already, 84% of business leaders agree that the amount of digital identities their organization manages today vs. 10 years ago has dramatically increased (up to 10x). What’s more, 95% of businesses report challenges managing the number of identities that currently fall under their organization’s umbrella (human and machine). Add in the metaverse, and the uptick in IoT usage that will coincide with it, and you have a perfect storm of increasing complexity and expanding threat vectors that can be taken advantage of, which can result in breaches, business disruption and material costs.
So, as adoption of the metaverse increases, and users are encouraged to engage with and embrace the metaverse in new ways – through both digital and physical channels – its important for business leaders to keep in mind how preventative identity security and proactive identity management can help in mitigating longer-term risks posed by the expanding metaverse. Because the bigger the metaverse, and the more IoT devices in use, the bigger the exploitation potential.
SVP, Corporate Marketing and Communications at Samsung Electronics America
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To power the metaverse, brands are leveraging a host of cutting-edge technologies like AR, VR, blockchain, AI and IoT with the goal of making the virtual as personal and authentic as possible and in real time. Through the current development of IoT, sensors, camera and wearables are already deployed and being used. When connected to the metaverse, these devices are the drivers that allow the metaverse to reflect the real world in real time. For example, a metaverse instance of a physical place, like Samsung’s 837x version of its 837 Washington St. experience center in New York’s Meatpacking District, could be updated continuously, in real time, as people and things move into and out of the real-world location. I believe this reflection of the real into the virtual will create an increased demand for IoT devices as well as shared data systems that are able to fully migrate into the metaverse and more specifically Web3. I also expect that as digital wallets and smart contracts move into the metaverse, this will open new and increased opportunity in the real world and could even overtake more traditional forms of identification and authentication. It could be possible that a token or badge you earn in the metaverse grants you real-world opportunity via access through your wearable device. There is no doubt, we believe the metaverse and IoT go hand-in-hand in creating the future of multidimensional experiences.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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