The metaverse will fundamentally change the way the economy works. Major financial players understand this well. AXA Investment Managers launched its thematic fund in Metaverse a few weeks ago. It consists of around 250 titles divided into four categories: Gaming, Socializing, Work and Technology Enablers. Most of Metaverse’s attention has so far been focused on the first two categories (gaming and socializing). But it is as a technological enabler that the benefits in terms of value creation and innovation will surely be most significant. Some speak of an “industrial metaverse”. It’s the same idea.
Numerous industrial applications
The objective is to simulate experiences or events in the virtual world in order to be able to answer problems in the physical world. The most emblematic example is of course Nvidia, an American listed company with one foot in the graphics processor, artificial intelligence and 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. Research and investment may take at least ten or fifteen years. But suppose Nvidia succeeds. It can make it possible to anticipate and prevent climate changes that will occur in the physical world, for companies to adapt, for insurers and for all economic players.
Other applications are possible. At Oceans.ai, we aim to build a metaverse within a few years that can help estimate and predict the impact of erosion on energy infrastructure, for example. Corrosion, in the broadest sense (including pipelines, gas lines, road infrastructure, etc.) cost France around 84 billion euros in 2019. This is equivalent to 3.5% of GDP. If we can better predict the degradation of materials under the influence of the environment, it will make it possible to reduce the costs generated as well as the risks and strengthen the safety of the products.
In the same vein, Boeing is building its own internal metaverse based on digital twins to avoid design flaws in its planes. Boeing is looking to improve maintenance and inspection of its aircraft. The American group used current and historical maintenance data and developed a machine learning algorithm that, if the project was successful, could predict which weak points on the plane would be monitored as a priority. However, this is not an easy task.
Control and complexity of information processing
The Metaverse is based on the following technologies: Augmented Reality (eg 3D objects that fit into a room), Virtual Reality (simulation of a 3D environment existing in the physical world), Blockchain, 5G, IOT (connection of physical objects to the Internet), Industry 4.0 (which corresponds to the merging of virtual worlds with real objects) and artificial intelligence. Access to data is the key to success for the latter. It is customary to say that artificial intelligence requires large amounts of data. It is true. But what is often not highlighted is that data quality (eg continuous and consistent data) is even more essential. This specifically makes it possible to create operating systems that act as a framework for the digital twins we mentioned.
Data quality is not an end in itself. It is also important to keep in mind all the data privacy requirements and yet different rules that apply here and there in these regions Contrary to what we might believe in Europe, we are lucky. Regulations are moving in the right direction. In early April, the European Parliament adopted more flexible rules to facilitate data sharing (neutral intermediaries for aggregated data, incentives for public actors to share their data, etc.). This will help foster a climate of innovation around artificial intelligence and therefore around the metaverse. Finally, this system should soon be complemented by a law on the use of data generated by connected objects (currently under discussion at Member State level). This is also an important point for industry.
The challenge is now the funding channel Private ownership More towards themes of innovation in art. This is a challenge in France where fundraising is largely dominated by the fintech segment and, to a lesser extent, medtech. In many cases, only Corporate venture capital (funds held by large industrial groups) including the Public Investment Bank (BPI). This is insufficient if we want to reindustrialize France and multiply areas of excellence. We hope that the current tenant of the Elysée will also address this issue.