The metaverse may merely seem like a buzzword, but it’s quickly moving from a futuristic concept to an imminent reality. This technological evolution is of interest to people of all walks of life, from gamers searching for the next chapter in entertainment tech to chief information officers evaluating how data centers will provide the massive computing demands associated with it.
The metaverse shows amazing potential across a variety of use cases, but its adoption will depend on overcoming some significant challenges. Below, we break down the state of the metaverse and what we can expect to see moving forward.
The metaverse is no longer science fiction.
The term “metaverse” first appeared in a 1992 science fiction novel called Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. This wasn’t the only work of fiction to influence our view of the metaverse. More recently, the book and film Ready Player One portrayed the concept of the metaverse as an immersive digital wonderland.
Today, the metaverse is no longer merely a sci-fi concept. The tech world is putting the spotlight on the real potential of this concept, and many companies are putting their money where their mouth is with major investments, as we’ll see in the next section.
That said, what exactly the metaverse will look like or how it will work is still an evolving concept. Some aspects of the metaverse may still seem like science fiction, but it wasn’t so long ago that the internet and the World Wide Web as we know them today were seen in the same way. A few decades later, these are indispensable fixtures of modern society, connecting all of us for work, entertainment and socializing.
Investment in the metaverse is growing.
One convincing piece of evidence that the metaverse is on track to becoming reality is the very real capital tech giants that are willing to invest. Facebook has made the biggest splash, even changing its name to Meta. The social media giant is shifting focus to the metaverse, earmarking $10 billion for investment in metaverse projects.
In addition to Meta, many other tech companies are investing in the metaverse as well. For example, Google invested $39.5 million in a private equity fund for metaverse projects. Microsoft recently acquired video game company Activision Blizzard in a $70 billion deal and plans to become a major player in the virtual gaming segment of the metaverse. Overall, the global metaverse market is projected to reach $758.6 billion by 2026.
Use cases for the metaverse are expanding.
Some people may think of the metaverse solely as the next-generation gaming environment, taking current augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences to the next level.
While gaming is one certain application, the metaverse shows great potential for a variety of other applications. At this stage of development, some uses for the metaverse include:
- Work collaboration
- Social media
- Specialized applications for industries such as healthcare, real estate, manufacturing and hospitality
The metaverse will bring new, enhanced experiences to consumers in a variety of ways. For example, travelers may be able to use the metaverse to take virtual tours of hotels before they book. This immersive experience would provide a better sense of the space than photos could.
Retail customers may be able to try on outfits virtually in the metaverse before placing an order. Fashion brands are also expected to sell digital clothing and accessories that consumers will purchase for their metaverse avatars. According to one estimate, the virtual fashion market may even reach $50 billion by 2030.
Widespread metaverse adoption will be slowed by a number of challenges.
Despite the many potential use cases, there are a few reasons the metaverse isn’t likely to fully take off just yet. Any development in technology comes with challenges, but these challenges create new opportunities for experts in the field to develop innovative solutions and build out existing capabilities.
One current obstacle is that the network infrastructure required to support the metaverse simply isn’t there yet. We’ll discuss that issue in more detail below.
But this isn’t the only hurdle to overcome. Headsets and other devices will be a necessary part of experiencing the metaverse, and current AR and VR equipment is lacking. Industry experts expect equipment to improve in the coming years, with 42 percent saying they expect to see smaller and more sleek devices as well as more fashionable ones added to the market. When the metaverse is realized, it will surely drive further upgrades for all hardware and devices involved.
Another concern is security. Using the metaverse will inevitably involve sharing massive amounts of data. This places great importance on data security and privacy. The security risks inherent in the metaverse have some concerned that it will take some trial and error before the metaverse is considered secure. In fact, 87 percent of U.S. adults report that they’re concerned about their privacy if and when the metaverse is realized. Cybersecurity experts will need to confront these concerns with real solutions to keep data secure.
The metaverse will take bandwidth requirements to the next level, demanding infrastructure upgrades.
There’s no doubt that the metaverse will require major upgrades to current digital infrastructure. Metaverse applications demand continuous high-bandwidth data transfers with minimal latency.
The volume of data created, captured, copied and consumed globally is already growing rapidly year over year, and the metaverse is sure to add considerably to this volume. This increased demand will require massive investments into network equipment such as fiber to the premises and into data centers.
Data center industry experts are expecting the metaverse will require more data centers. In addition to seeing more data centers crop up, we’re likely to see the metaverse accentuate some existing trends, such as edge computing and a move to liquid immersion cooling for higher data center density. There may also be an increased call for colocation data centers if companies such as Meta choose to outsource some of their computing needs.
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The metaverse isn’t here yet, but it’s coming, and the data center industry must prepare for this next chapter.
PCX is an industry leader you can trust for timely coverage of industry topics and expert insights. Want to learn more about trends affecting the data center industry? Read The State of the Data Center Industry Post-Pandemic.