Not another metaverse article!

Mark Zuckerberg strikes again, collecting news headlines and global attention (and creating distractions), and ensuring that the word “metaverse” worms its way into our everyday vocabulary, whether we like it or not. While we’re grateful that this isn’t another story of a billionaire dreaming of space odysseys, it’s still all about conquering another kind of kingdom—a virtual one.

So, will Meta (formerly known as Facebook) be the master of the metaverse? Or will the practical utility of a 3D virtual world outweigh consumer entertainment for once? Asset-heavy industry is definitely a metaverse contender, having already shown its love for digital twins and computer vision to test, predict, inspect, and conduct a host of other tasks from the comfort of a leather-padded office chair.

But before we draw up plans for an Ignite News Metaverse to immerse you into our own industrial world, we thought it best to consult with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. There’s no one better than Stein Danielsen, Cognite’s co-founder and Chief Solutions Officer. A techie at heart, he’s put some thought into what a metaverse could mean for those of us in the business of making the big things that keep countries and economies ticking.

Stein, is the metaverse just a pipe dream? And if so, can it be a pipe dream shared by the industrial world?

SD: It’s definitely not a pipe dream, and it’s already happening in the industrial world. You could say we’re building it now. We have the 3D models and the sensors ready to enable people to experience a factory or oil platform even if they are not there—we just call it a digital twin. 

For example, right now I’m looking at 20 terabytes of scan data from a processing plant. I can go into the virtual pump room and view my surroundings, and connect those surroundings to relevant data, such as sensor values or work orders. It’s even better than being there in reality!

What else is possible in an industrial metaverse?

SD: You can use 3D models to make you almost superhuman, flying around a facility and connecting the physical surroundings with live data. And while you’re at it, why not invite a third-party domain expert to consult on an issue in this virtual world?

Robots on-site can continuously capture images, like Google Maps cars do, to sync the physical world with the digital one. And you could even enter the industrial metaverse to run crisis training, for example, in a much more realistic way. This stuff is already happening today, and once we add AR/VR glasses and truly sync reality on-ground with live operational data, the opportunities are endless.

Wow, this sounds like the stuff of sci-fi! Will the industrial metaverse even outpace Zuckerberg’s consumer one?

SD: I think they will develop in parallel. The consumer metaverse is a lot better at interaction and communication, something that we can learn from in asset-heavy industry. Our industrial version of the metaverse is much better at getting the data and connecting it to the physical world. This is perhaps what they can learn from us. 

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