The metaverse will fundamentally change the way the economy works. The major financial players are well aware of this. AXA Investment Managers launched their thematic fund on the metaverse a few weeks ago. It consists of about 250 titles divided into four categories: Games, Social, Work, and Technology Empowerment. Much of the attention in the metaverse so far has focused on the first two categories (gaming and social). But as a technology facilitator, the benefits in terms of value creation and innovation will certainly be the most important. Some talk about the “industrial metaverse”. It’s the same idea.
Many industrial applications
The goal is to simulate experiences or phenomena in the virtual world in order to be able to provide an answer to the problems of the physical world. The most emblematic example is certainly Nvidia, a US registered company specializing in graphics processors and artificial intelligence that has one foot in the metaverse. Last December, the group’s CEO, Jensen Huang, announced plans to create a digital twin of Earth capable of predicting climate change using artificial intelligence. This is not a project that can succeed in the short term. It may take as little as ten or fifteen years of research and investment. But let’s say Nvidia succeeds. This can make it possible to anticipate and prevent climate changes that will occur in the physical world, for companies to adapt, for insurance companies and for all economic players.
Other applications are possible. At Oceans.ai, we aim to create a metaverse within a few years that can help predict and predict the impact of erosion on energy infrastructure, for example. Corrosion in the broad sense (including pipelines, gas lines, road infrastructure, etc.) cost France approximately 84 billion euros in 2019. This is equivalent to 3.5% of GDP. If we can better anticipate the deterioration of materials under the influence of the environment, this will make it possible to reduce the costs generated as well as risks and enhance the safety of goods.
Along the same lines, Boeing is creating its own in-house destination based on digital twins in order to avoid design errors on its planes. Boeing is also seeking to improve maintenance and inspections on its aircraft. The US group uses current and historical maintenance data and has developed a machine learning algorithm which, if the project is successful, can anticipate vulnerabilities that need to be monitored on board aircraft as a priority. However, this is not an easy task.
Organization and complexity of data processing
The metaverse is based on the following technologies: augmented reality (such as 3D objects that fit into a room), virtual reality (simulating a 3D environment located in the physical world), blockchain, 5G, IOT (connecting physical objects to the Internet), Industry 4.0 (which corresponds to the convergence of the virtual world with real things) and artificial intelligence. Access to data is the key to success for the latter. It is usual to say that in artificial intelligence large amounts of data are needed. Indeed. But what is not often highlighted is that data quality (continuous and consistent data, for example) is more important. This makes it possible in particular to create operating systems that act as a framework for the digital twins that we have mentioned.
Data quality is not an end in itself. It is also important to consider all data privacy needs and the still-varying regulations that apply here and there in this area. Contrary to what we might think in Europe, we are in luck. Regulations are going in the right direction. In early April, the European Parliament adopted more flexible rules to facilitate data sharing (neutral intermediaries for data collection, incentivizing public entities to share their data, etc.). This should help foster an innovation climate around AI and therefore the metaverse. Finally, this system should soon be supplemented by a law regarding the use of data generated by connected objects (currently under discussion at the member state level). This is also an important point for the industry.
The challenge now is to direct money from private equity More about innovation topics in the industry. This is a challenge in France where the fintech sector is mainly dominated by fundraising, and to a lesser extent by medtech. In many cases, only a file Corporate venture capital (Funds held by large industrial groups) with Public Investment Bank (BPI) in support exist. This is not enough if we want to re-industrialize France and multiply the sectors of excellence. We hope that the current tenant of the Elysee will also address this issue.