Stories – Technologies

Technologies – Expert view

Are you ready for the Metaverse?

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About Kelly Vero

Kelly Vero is a Digital Leader and Game Developer. Crafting a career in development throughout some of the world’s most famous franchises, Kelly always knew that she would work at the top-flight of video games. At SO REAL Digital Twins, her previous company, she worked on the automated production of digital twins for the virtual world, using an innovative process based on x-ray technology.

Spend just five minutes talking with futurist and self-described “creative badass” Kelly Vero – a well-known game developer who’s worked on titles such as Tomb Raider, Halo 3 and Candy Crush – and you’ll start to get excited about the metaverse.

Haven’t heard of it? The metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, spun out of augmented reality (AR) and living in the Internet. And it represents the future of everything digital.

“The metaverse is enabled by incredible advances in quantum computing, augmented reality and mixed reality.”

“The metaverse enables you to put your physical self in a digital space and live there,” says Vero. It also gives us one platform to do everything. Not just gaming, but every aspect of your life, from health care to meeting your dream partner. The current Internet, she says, has become divisive. “I think Tim Berners Lee would be very disappointed to see what’s happened to his creation. The metaverse is about everyone coming together as a community, in a place where they feel safe. It contributes to a better world.”

An early example of the metaverse is Pokémon Go – you’re in a virtual world, but interacting with real objects. “It showed us what was possible,” says Vero.

The metaverse is enabled by incredible advances in quantum computing, augmented reality and mixed reality, and the latter is what really excites Vero. “Mixed reality,” – known as MR – “is the future,” she says. A combination of the real world and virtual reality (VR), it allows us to do away with the hardware and headsets, and access the metaverse via lightweight wearables such as Google Glass or Apple Glasses.

One key concept underpinning the metaverse is that of digital twins – a digital mirror image of a physical object. Digital twins enable us to move physical objects in a digital space. There are use cases not just for gaming (again, think Pokémon Go) but also for fashion, retail, media, entertainment, transportation and more. Creating realistic digital twins is an emerging digital art form that some companies are capitalizing on, building collections of digital images to support innovation. At SO REAL Digital Twins, her previous company, Vero contributed to the largest developed collection in the world, using an innovative process based on x-ray technology.

“It all revolves around the chips and the motherboards the power comes from.”

Did the pandemic accelerate the move toward MR and the metaverse? It definitely led to a big shift in how people use technology, and also highlighted how in some areas, tech development is regressing. “Mobile phone form factors are getting bigger for some reason, when for years and years they had become smaller,” says Vero. “And I’m not sure anyone really needs a foldable phone. What people need are faster and more reliable ways to communicate.”

Technology advancements require enormous computing power

So many amazing technology advancements – not just the metaverse but also autonomous vehicles, drones and quantum computing for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – require enormous computing power and capability. “That power comes from chips and motherboards,” Vero reminds us. The next generation of computing power will be about meeting demand for communicating reliably and quickly.

Humans at the core of technology trends for 2021

Wearables such as MR glasses or wrist-worn devices for detecting physiological data such as heart rate will become intrinsic to our day to day as human beings, Vero believes. Moreover, a person’s data will become currency, and its use will likely be regulated. People will be empowered to sell or exchange their own data for their own benefit. Wearables will, over time, supplant the use of mobile phones.

The single-platform concept Vero referred to earlier will also advance significantly in 2021. We’re already seeing it in gaming, with players moving away from gaming consoles toward the Internet – and eventually the metaverse.

Vero also sees technology having an outsized impact on education in the short term. “The education and technology spaces will become more symbiotic than they have been,” she says. On one hand, technology democratizes access to education, while on the other, education makes us more savvy tech users. She refers to deepfakes, which are designed to disseminate false information, as an example. Besides the benefits of technology, educating people about its pitfalls is also important.

“There are definite plans afoot to make education accessible in a number of new, simulated ways,” she says. “And that will give birth to a level of inclusivity we’ve never seen before. It’s great for the next generation of learners.”