A phygital future: Uniting physical and digital realms in the metaverse | HCLTech

A phygital future: Uniting physical and digital realms in the metaverse

In 2024, the metaverse is set to unleash the next wave of digital disruption, as revealed by the HCLTech Trends 2024 report
9 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
9 minutes read
A phygital future: Uniting physical and digital realms in the metaverse

The metaverse, a concept that once seemed confined to science fiction, is now on the brink of becoming a transformative reality. The HCLTech Trends 2024 report positions the metaverse as a significant upcoming technological megatrend, propelled by the eagerness of tech companies.

This growing phenomenon is generating immense excitement for its potential to create highly immersive experiences, rapid hardware and software development and its ability to revolutionize industries. Metaverse’s potential to unleash the next wave of digital disruption seems increasingly clear, with real-life benefits already emerging for early adopting users and companies.

As we witness noteworthy progress over the past year, the report asserts that there is still considerable room for growth and improvement to propel the metaverse trend toward the disruption and adoption phases of implementation. Innovations in display quality, tracking accuracy, haptic feedback and computing power highlight the dynamic nature of this landscape.

Challenges for metaverse adoption are multifaceted, ranging from the lack of universal standards to the delicate balance required between innovation and regulation. The report underlines the cross-sectorial complexity, emphasizing the need for overarching rules and regulations that address the diverse needs of various sectors.

The report also predicts that Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), despite the initial bubble burst, will emerge as significant contributors and play a crucial role in monetizing virtual assets and enhancing their place in mainstream transactions.

Understanding the metaverse landscape: XR and Spatial computing

The metaverse requires a mix of technologies — AR, VR, MR, HMDs, IoT, AI, cloud, 5G and spatial technologies. HCLTech Trends 2024 identifies three broad areas to understand the trending metaverse landscape: XR, spatial web and XR ethics and governance.

In the metaverse, extended reality (XR) emerges as a cornerstone, blending virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). These immersive technologies reshape realities by immersing users in computer-generated environments (VR), overlaying digital content onto the real world (AR) and combining elements of both for interactive experiences (MR).

Statistical insights from the report reveal that 53% of respondents consider real-time integrations a substantial challenge facing the global extended reality (XR) industry.

Additionally, 36% anticipate XR driving total experience priorities in the near term, signifying its growing impact. The report highlights the maturation of XR technologies, from HoloLens AR headset to future versions of the Ray-Ban camera-equipped glasses, the technology is being leveraged to create futuristic high-tech glasses,

Spatial computing, another important element of metaverse, will rise as a key player in the metaverse evolution, blending the digital realm with the physical environment. The global market for spatial computing is projected to be valued at $620.2 billion by 2032, showcasing the rising demand and adoption of this disruptive technology.

Spatial computing is already transforming remote work by providing immersive virtual environments where distant teams collaborate virtually. While high-end VR devices offer impressive capabilities, their cost may limit widespread adoption, particularly for smaller companies or those with budget constraints.

However, as technology continues to advance, there is the potential for spatial computing to become more accessible and practical for remote work scenarios.

MetaLabs by HCLTech is an initiative facilitating customers in creating an evolved immersive digital environment to start their metaverse journeys via a unique approach. For example, in the workspace collaboration, customers experience a base zone, enabling stakeholders to navigate operations, conduct meetings, host clients, run ideation workshops and more within the metaverse. This hands-on experience provides customers with a novice experience, and upon satisfaction, they can seamlessly integrate the use case in their sandbox environment.

XR ethics and governance: Navigating the ethical frontier

As we traverse this exciting technological frontier, the importance of XR ethics and governance cannot be overstated. The metaverse's potential to revolutionize experiences — from entertainment to healthcare and education — necessitates a robust framework addressing user privacy, data collection, content moderation, safety and accessibility.

Bejoy J. George, Executive Vice President, Transformation Initiatives Group - ERS, at HCLTech, emphasized: “XR creates a seamless fusion of the virtual and real world, unlocking limitless possibilities, however, amidst this transformative journey, ethics and governance must stand as unwavering pillars.”

“XR is not just an interface, it’s a responsibility. Ethics and governance should be our guiding principles ensuring that the immersive experiences we craft are not only groundbreaking but built on trust,” he added.

Recent data from Tech Trends 2024 emphasizes that 69% of respondents recognize the significance of XR ethics, marking its transition from mere hype to a critical component in the responsible deployment of immersive technologies.

Beyond the technological marvels, ethical considerations and governance frameworks are essential for shaping a responsible and inclusive digital future as XR applications span from entertainment to healthcare, education and beyond. The deeply immersive nature of XR experiences raises concerns about privacy, data security and the potential for misuse. Ethical considerations are paramount to ensuring responsible content creation, user safety and personal information protection.

The report highlights the societal impact of XR ethics and governance, with the highest influence on community and macrocosmic factors. Despite being at the lower end in terms of profitability and adoptability, the societal impact signifies its potential to shape the metaverse's ethical landscape in the coming years.

The future of the metaverse includes capturing non-verbal data, such as physiological and physical reactions, and raising questions about meaningful consent to data sharing. XR ethics and governance will move beyond hype into a phase where the demonstration of feasibilities becomes more widespread and integrated with technological advancements.

HCLTech Trends 2024 Research

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XR transcending physical boundaries

According to the HCLTech Trends 2024 report, XR is transcending physical boundaries to create real-time, interactive and shared experiences in the digital world.

XR technologies are already on the verge of mainstream adoption. From improving retail experiences to designing digital prototypes for cars, industries such as ecommerce, retail, education, automotive, gaming and consumer products and retail (CPG) are piloting immersive use cases to create new, more engaging, consumer experiences. This will accelerate in 2024.

The wider proliferation of XR is anticipated as hardware and software developments continue to evolve. The business value of XR is highlighted in its ability to provide improved engagement making learning, marketing and entertainment more captivating through realistic simulations.

XR will also reduce the need for physical resources and travel which will lead to cost savings. It can represent complex data and concepts visually and interactively. This is particularly valuable for understanding 3D models, data visualization and architectural design leading to enhanced visualization.

The HCLTech Trends 2024 report unveils the dynamic landscape of the metaverse, emphasizing the pivotal role of XR and the imperative need for ethical considerations. As XR transitions from hype to widespread adoption, its potential to redefine human experiences and interactions become increasingly apparent, ushering in a new phygital reality.

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