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How Microsoft's Metaverse Can be a Gamechanger for the Industry?

This blog will highlight what Microsoft's Metaverse is and how it could give our clients a truly immersive experience that will keep them coming back for more.

After another year of COVID-19 shaking the industry, one form of escape for many has been the metaverse. However, from Facebook’s Horizon, to Microsoft’s Enterprise Metaverse, there is still much to learn about the concept.

In this blog series, we will clear up some of the unknowns, and aim to stimulate and fuel your innovation. Personally, this blogger’s imagination is currently in overdrive, thinking about the exciting opportunities the metaverse could offer Codit’s present and future clients. This blog will highlight what is out there, and how it could give our clients a truly immersive experience that will keep them coming back for more.


Let’s start with the Metaverse

Despite what’s been said about what the metaverse is, let’s start by saying that it’s not a new concept. In my opinion, it’s more of a convergence of data points, metadata and telemetry in a shared space that’s augmented at present by VR or Augmented Reality. As the internet and technology have evolved, we’ve got to the point where we can access every piece of data and utilize it. This has been developing since consumers began to use devices to monitor their health.

The metaverse is also the evolution of Digital Twins. Since December 2020, it has been possible to create digitally modeled environments using Microsoft’s Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL). This can create models and be used without physical connection, in order to simulate ‘what if?’, ‘how will the model work?’ scenarios.

To quote Microsoft, “Metaverse apps are the culmination of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge working in harmony together – at their foundation is digital twins”.

For example, the metaverse can augment Digital Twins, so that consultants and sales teams can create real-life simulations of the Digital Twin solution for your client’s shop floor. You can then monitor how quickly shop assistants fill the shelves, or how efficient the cashiers are . This could be further augmented for the customer if new simulation software written by STRIVR is used. Imagine how your newly modeled IoT/IIoT solution would handle Black Friday queues, or smart buildings and cities, or energy providers to an oil rig in the North-Sea. This concept will be explored further in our future blog, “Further exploration and demonstration of the augmented Metaverse”.

So where does it leave the industry?

Given that COVID-19 has profoundly changed the way we work and interact with each other, the metaverse offers us a safe way to be together. It could also offer a different means of training and inducting new colleagues, as remote training could take place in a shared connected virtual space. When training may be typically hazardous, this would also reduce risk to human life.

Microsoft’s first offering in the metaverse is Mesh, a collaborative platform for VR which will be integrated with teams in 2022. This will combine mixed reality and HoloLens with meetings & video calls, where you can participate through animated avatars. This is attractive to those who feel they’ve had enough of looking at themselves through a webcam during the lockdowns. To create these avatars, Microsoft will listen to your voice and watch you raise your hand, animating the avatar accordingly.

There will also be virtual meeting spaces where your avatars can meet. At the Microsoft Inspire event two years ago, Julia White demonstrated a pre-cursor to this with holograms and AI language conversion, and I was completely blown away (Microsoft Inspire 2019 Julia White).

The second leap is how we will demonstrate our Digital Twin/IoT/IIoT solutions to manufacturing and retail customers. This will not only include our simulations and Digital Twin models, but with AR and VR, we can demonstrate a real-life view of their premise, and the interactions and consequences of that action.

Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces is presently in and is a great tool to provide analytics with people and places. Through it, companies will be able to safely monitor and manage queues on shop floors. They can analyse customer traffic patterns and could even measure shop assistants’ performance, based on how long they take to serve a customer.

This is what I have been doing with AI+ML Vision on edge, and  wanting to do with Microsoft Percept. Companies such as BMW, Daimler, and Ford are already using the HoloLens technology for manufacturing professionals. This helps them to learn fast, avoid errors, and track and improve process quality. The next step is for training employees working offshore on oil rigs, using IIoT and maintenance. With all the tech in harmony, staff could be trained in hypothetically dangerous situations, without leaving the digital metaverse. Everything could be simulated with digital twin models, augmented vision or VR, without endangering anyone or waiting for good weather conditions.

Finally, a big push is being made towards connected healthcare, particularly in the Care Sector. In this, Azure FHIR has been making headway, by managing patient data in a secure, compliant way which is compatible with HL7 FHIR. This, coupled with Azure FHIR IoT, gives great insight or knowledge about a patient, including how they live, their prescribed medicines and medical history. Indeed, if you have their scans and statistics, you could even perform robotic surgery on them from anywhere in the world, or tackle health fraud. Health data has some of the most conclusive use-cases within the metaverse.

Like all technology, however, there is the danger of misuse. We look forward to sharing our insights in our future blog, “Metaverse – Security and Ethics”.

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