After 27 years since the commercialization of the internet, 5 billion people have an online presence today. The first two phases of the Web—Web 1.0 and 2.0—were relatively staid compared to what’s coming. Today, we’re on the threshold of Web3 and the metaverse—internet environments where transactions are logged on the blockchain and powered by AI.
By 2026, Web3 technologies—such as digital twins, smart spaces, virtual and augmented reality, and advanced virtual assistants—will transform how people interact with the world. In fact, by then, 30% of the organizations in the world will have products and services ready for the metaverse.
The metaverse is a digital artificial intelligence (AI) platform with a 3D user interface that provides immersive user experiences. It is augmented with conversational, AI-powered, human-like avatars that enable natural conversations in multiple modalities. Viewed in that way, the metaverse is a clear evolution of today’s conversational AI, such as Alexa, merging with the 3D space of video games and other converging technologies like VR and blockchain. It’s clear that conversational AI will play a big role in scaling and facilitating Web3 and the metaverse.
Opportunities In The Metaverse
There’s a lot of hype around the metaverse because it’s a grandiose idea that will transform our digital and real-world existence into a blended format. The metaverse won’t become fully realized until it connects technologies and trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), AR, AI and spatial technologies into an immersive digital environment. Ideologically, much of the tech industry is calling for that platform to be decentralized and interoperable—as opposed to the “walled gardens” we see today in social media and other metaverse precursors.
Estimated as a trillion-dollar revenue opportunity, the metaverse will have a direct impact on numerous industries, including communications and media, retail, manufacturing, education and banking. As the next frontier for online interaction, it will also revolutionize product and service marketing, branding and sales roles.
Device-dependent interactions will be phased out, and new types of interactions and business models across multiple applications will emerge. Examples of early-stage solutions include gaming, virtual collaboration, navigation apps, social media, and fungible and non-fungible tokens. Furthermore, conversational AI’s real-time multilingual abilities will break down language barriers, facilitating interaction throughout the globally connected metaverse. With the metaverse, enterprises can connect, engage with and incentivize customers to create new value exchanges and revenue streams.
Conversational AI In The Metaverse
Big Tech experts predict the metaverse to become the successor to mobile, making customer service virtual-first. If we consider how mobile messaging apps have developed as a go-to channel for customer care, we can see how conversational AI will only become more important, even when it comes to enhancing employee experiences.
Here’s where conversational AI will play a big role in the metaverse:
• Immersive experiences in retail and commerce: Retail can extend its reach to an immersive shopping experience that allows for more complex products, with brands like Nike, Ralph Lauren and Gucci already jumping on the bandwagon of digital-only clothing and accessories. Dynamic AI agents would be like personal shopping stylists facilitating intelligent upselling and cross-selling, managing inventory of virtual property and allowing for self-serve queries.
• Industrial metaverse for the manufacturing industry: The industrial metaverse opens up innumerable opportunities for the manufacturing industry. This ranges from quicker and safer workforce training, leveraging simulations to improve products before deployments, to using AR/VR to repair equipment. Conversational AI-powered avatars will be crucial here, guiding the workforce through sophisticated and natural interactions.
• Digital wayfinding: Whether you’re creating wayfinding for a stadium or theme park, there are some core principles that must be considered in order for visitors to navigate along the journey. The value of an effective wayfinding system is not only determined by a positive visitor experience but by how you maximize on the customer’s route and dwell time. Conversational AI can turn this entire experience into a strategic route, making and creating a wayfinding “story” that ensures that visitors are informed of what products/attractions/facilities are available and potentially increase revenue.
• Next-generation classrooms: Imagine “teleporting” from a history class in Ancient Greece to an astronomy class held on Mars—within any given interface/application. Although metaverse experiences will not completely replace digital interactions via apps, websites and so forth, they are likely to pave the way for new types of business models to optimize on these new use cases, greatly enhancing interactivity in learning through natural human-like interactions with digital avatars.
• Experiential virtual events: The metaverse can extend more collaborative and immersive offerings to virtual events. Just imagine the metaverse facilitating a rock concert at 10 different locations across the world at the same time. Case in point, Travis Scott’s concert in Fortnitefeatured his skyscraper-sized avatar directly interacting with over 12 million live viewers. Conversational AI will further enhance this experience via digital avatars that enable compelling audience engagements at scale, irrespective of time, geography or language.
• Enhanced virtual workplace collaboration: Playing into the future of hybrid workplaces, the metaverse will bridge the gap between in-person and remote working. Conversational AI-powered personal assistants will help every employee in the metaverse, handling everything from scheduling meetings to taking notes to managing routine employee engagements. By taking on more mundane and repetitive tasks, AI will also allow people to focus on creative work.
While exactly what form the metaverse (or metaverses) will take is yet to become clear, what isclear is that today’s technologies are converging into what will be the even more connected world of Web3, facilitated by conversational AI. According to Gartner, while the metaverse won’t be fully mature before 2030, tech product leaders need to start evaluating opportunities now. Organizations should start now to incorporate dynamic AI agents that can begin their entry into the next phase of connectivity to reshape the way we interact, delivering a holistic total experience to users.