On October 28, 2021, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would change its name to Meta, and that the company would focus on the metaverse as a major trend. Facebook has also invested in virtual and augmented reality technology in recent years, including VR headsets and AR glasses. So, what exactly is metaverse?
The metaverse is defined as a giant 3D virtual world space that contains all the elements of real society in virtual form, including life, work, leisure, and entertainment (Smart et al., 2008). The metaverse develops a virtual shared space, effectively summarizing the real world with the Internet to create a new civilization. To better define this virtual world, Smart et al. divide Metaverse into four different scenes to understand the various functionalities and structures, including virtual worlds, mirror worlds, augmented reality, and lifelogging (2008).
The first scene is the virtual world, a complete set of dimensional spaces with different terminal hardware and graphics technology, including information from the real and digital worlds. The second scene is the mirror world, where elements from real life are reflected in the virtual world. Smart et al. (2008) stated that the mirror world “involves sophisticated virtual mapping, modelling, and annotation tools, geospatial and other sensors, and location-aware and other lifelogging (history recording) technologies” (p. 9). Augmented reality is the third scene of the metaverse, it is a new way of interacting with the virtual world, and its effects fuse real life with virtual products. Lifelogging is the trend of modern youth life and the fourth functionality in the metaverse. According to Statista Research Department, nearly 1.9 billion users are active on Facebook every day (Takahashi, 2021). The same will happen in metaverse. Users socialize and interact with others by sharing their activities and recording their lives.
The four functionalities require potent technologies to support, including cloud computing, augmented and virtual reality interfaces, and artificial intelligence games industries.
Cloud computing is the basis of the metaverse’s computing power. It provides services for massive factual interactive content in the virtual world. Due to the high bearing capacity of cloud computing servers, enterprises will use cloud computing to support the normal operation of software, and its applications include stable software security, installation, configuration and operation of systems. Its market value was $261.9 billion in 2019 with a CARG of 29%, and the expected market value by the end of 2024 is $411.7 Billion with a CAGR of 9.5% (Global Cloud Computing, 2020). A large part of this emergency downward market trend is due to COVID-19. The three main markets for cloud computing are the United States, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, in 2019. The United States is the largest segment in the global cloud computing market, and it counts 35.3% of the entire market. The competition and growth of the cloud computing industry in the U.S. are fierce, and it also means that the innovation ability of products is powerful (Global Cloud Computing, 2020).
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are virtual interfaces that support the metaverse, providing users with an immersive experience from auditory, visual, and tactile perspectives. With the development of demand and industry chain, the application scenarios of AR&VR industry are broader, including AR education, AR social, AR navigation, AR tourism, VR education, VR games, and much more. In the long run, the CAGR of global VR market value from 2020 to 2025 is 24.5%, and the estimated market value in 2025 is $41.4 billion, with an increase of 297% compared to 2020’s value (Global Virtual Reality 2021). According to the Virtual and Augmented Reality market report, the future development trend of VRAR includes inheritor of VR devices, arising cross-industry collaboration, spotlight on mobile and wireless devices, growing enterprise interest in the technology, and rising VRAR investments by telcos (2018).
The generation logic in the metaverse is controlled by Artificial Intelligent, which can present the metaverse contents to users in an orderly manner. The development fields and application fields of artificial intelligence are being extended indefinitely. AI is widely used in various industries, including speech technology, visual technology, and natural language processing technology. According to the Global Artificial Intelligence market report, the total revenue of the global AI market rose to $42.8 billion in 2019, and its CAGR was 55.9% from 2015 to 2019 (2020). This is a relatively high growth rate, and it maintains a high investment return. The global AI market value has increased from $8.1 billion to $47.9 billion, increasing 591% from 2015 to 2019 (Global Artificial Intelligence, 2020). In the long run, the CAGR of the global AI market value is 35.3% from 2019 to 2024, and the market value is expected to increase to $217.1 billion (Global Artificial Intelligence, 2020).
Games industries can be described as the initial market of the metaverse because games themselves require users to create a virtual account in a virtual world and then immerse themselves in that virtuality. Additionally, the rapid development of AR, VR, and electronic products has accelerated game software development. The games software market is competitive. It includes a variety of games, “games for domestic games consoles, handheld games consoles, mobile phones and other wireless devices; and games for PC and Mac desktop computers” (Global Games Software, 2021). The market value of the game software market is $54.38 billion in 2020 with a CAGR of 4.6%, and it is expected to reach $75 billion in 2025 with a forecast CAGR of 6.6% (Global Games Software, 2021). The United States has the most significant games software market, it accounts for 37% of the total market, and its user amount is more than 214 million. Asian-pacific has the second-largest games software market, which counts 28.2% of the entire market, and it has the largest gaming population of 661 million users.
Faced with such a high compound annual growth rate in the metaverse technology supported markets, many established technology companies or start-up technology companies have entered the relevant industry chain. Whether it is software (information recording and data analysis) or hardware (such as VR glasses), everyone is laying out the future around this emerging theme. New virtual marketing scenarios and new virtual interactions are market demands that drive the development and innovation of technology applications in the metaverse field.
Global Artificial Intelligence (2020, October). MarketLine Industry Profiles. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://advantage-marketline-com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/Analysis/ViewasPDF/global-artificial-intelligence-110898.
Global Cloud Computing (2020, October). MarketLine Industry Profiles. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://advantage-marketline-com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/Analysis/ViewasPDF/global-cloud-computing-110058.
Global Games Software (2021, February). MarketLine Industry Profiles. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://advantage-marketline-com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/Analysis/ViewasPDF/global-games-software-122721
Global Virtual Reality. MarketLine Industry Profiles (2021, June). Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://advantage-marketline-com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/Analysis/ViewasPDF/global-virtual-reality-127469.
Smart, J., Cascio, J., & Paffendorf, J. (2008). A Cross-Industry Public Foresight Project. Metaverse Roadmap: Pathways to the 3D Web. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.w3.org/2008/WebVideo/Annotations/wiki/images/1/19/MetaverseRoadmapOverview.pdf.
Takahashi, D. (2021, January 27). Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki believes users will create the metaverse. VentureBeat. Retrieved October 7, 2021, from https://venturebeat.com/2021/01/27/roblox-ceo-dave-baszucki-believes-users-will-create-the-metaverse/.
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