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News Bureau | ILLINOIS

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Robert Brunner Vice Dean of Innovation and Chief Disruption Officer. Geese College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Brunner has spoken News Bureau business and law editor Phil Ciciora On the transformative potential of the Metaverse, an immersive 3D environment that seeks to blend the physical and online worlds.

About the Metaverse

It all depends on how you define the “metaverse”. There is no single accepted definition of the metaverse, and in some ways it depends on who you are talking to and what their motives are.

For Mark Zuckerberg and Meta, the Metaverse is this immersive virtual world that replaces much of the real world. Actually going back to the original meaning of the word, coined by sci-fi writer Neil Stevenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash, a more secondary world, virtual world, consistent with what Zuckerberg thinks It’s about the world. His motivation for pushing the metaverse is that it presents a huge opportunity to grow the meta and its user base. So he has already invested tens of billions of dollars. That said, Zuckerberg’s version of the Metaverse sounds fantastic to some and downright terrifying to others.

Then there’s a version of the metaverse that resembles something less invasive as opposed to a radically different virtual reality headset. It’s a more augmented reality approach.

Basically, the tech industry has adopted the term and created this range of possibilities. If Apple, Google, Microsoft, or any other company created a mixed reality headset that would be the next “must-have” device, it could create mass-market appeal in the same way that the iPhone did with smartphones. . If so, it would be a game changer in terms of moving from niche products to hundreds of millions of devices, creating market share, and actually driving people to build applications.

Are there any real-world use cases for the metaverse for businesses, or is this a case of Silicon Valley hype overtaking reality?

Just as video calling changed the life of the average office worker in 2020, so does the metaverse. From AR tech to full-blown metaverses, I think there are legitimate use cases in this space. In some cases, we are already starting to see some of these. For example, surgeons are being trained via his VR platform, and Walmart is using similar technology to train field employees. This makes sense because if he puts 20 people in a conference room or video call, at least half of them aren’t paying attention. Put someone in a virtual environment and you have no choice. They have to interact with what they see. As such, it can be a very cost-effective way to deliver consistent training and education at scale.

It’s not as engaging as a face-to-face human interaction, but it’s cheaper, and much more scalable and secure. For example, how do you deal with potentially hostile customers? This is easier to do virtually than in real life. What if there is a dangerous chemical spill in your factory? Do your employees know how to respond? The immersive aspect of virtual reality is great for training how to respond to dangerous situations. provide a method.

One notable post-pandemic trend is that businesses are cutting back on business travel. It’s expensive to travel now, but something like the Metaverse would allow someone to virtually visit factories and business partners around the world. Think of it like visiting 3D Zoom. Travel isn’t going away completely, but he might be able to visit in person once a year and use the technology to meet with people at the factory every week or every other week.

We can continue to extrapolate and develop these hypotheses for other areas where the metaverse may change. Ultimately, this just shows that we are in a moment ripe for disruption and change.

The metaverse or augmented reality may have obvious advantages, but isn’t it also a minefield of regulation regarding crime, hate speech, harassment, and other potential mines?

It’s going to be something of a social media learning curve. Companies must be thinking less than they should, which is typical of new technologies.

The salvation is that the metaverse is not part of everyday life at this point. But clearly, there are many potential pitfalls with this kind of technology, and you should be careful. I think we need to pay attention to First Amendment rights in the Metaverse, much like we do on Twitter today. This would be a very thorny problem, as with current technology.

Should the Metaverse be on the radar of big brands?

For most big companies, it should be on their radar – or in the case of Coca-Cola and Nike, it is already. I would argue that it affects just about everyone, whatever you call it. Whether it’s training employees, meeting and interacting with employees or customers, or creating new experiences, there are many different opportunities companies need to catch up on that they don’t want to miss.

This is a situation where companies regularly have to stay on top of technology and monitor what their competitors are doing in their field. This is why we created the Disruption Lab at Gies to explore these technologies and work with interested partners to ensure we are well-equipped to thrive in an increasingly disruptive world.

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