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Published on: Oct. 7, 2022, 6:49 p.m.
Metaverse: A concept whose time has come
  • New vistas: from concrete to abstract

By Business India Editorial

Metaverse has seized the imagination of one and all in the world. Put simply, it is a virtual world, where people interact via their digital proxies. To create this virtual world, technologies such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are used.

Educators say it is always better to move from the concrete to the abstract. This aptly applies to metaverse too. If you have visited amusement parks that offer 3D virtual reality or played advanced video games, then understanding this concept becomes easy. 

The world over, many big companies are embracing metaverse. Companies that have entered this space include Adidas, Balenciaga & Fortnite, Christie’s, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Louis Vuitton and Nike. It is an unchartered plane and nobody knows how it is going to evolve.

Indian companies too are testing this space. Entertainment company Shemaroo is a late addition. Shemaroo has joined hands with Decentraland, a metaverse platform, to enter the virtual world, which it has titled Shemaroo Theatre. It can be accessed from the Decentraland platform. 

According to press reports, in February this year, Walt Disney Co appointed Mike White, who has been with the firm for more than 10 years to enter the metaverse space. In May, Mondelez India Foods (formerly Cadbury India) used the metaverse to recruit freshers. “With the metaverse making communication far more immersive, we hope to bring some of our Mondelez signature experiences to our colleagues in an interesting and unique format, thereby strengthening our efforts towards building the future of workplace,” said Shilpa Vaid, head HR, Mondelez India, in a press release. “The idea is to better embrace the hybrid world by experimenting and evolving our practices – right from hiring to upskilling.”

Mumbai-based liquor maker Allied Blenders & Distillers, forayed into metaverse in July this year, by launching ABD MetaBar – a virtual reality space. In September, the company launched its new whisky -- ICONiQ White -- in ADB Metbar. It will be launched physically soon. 

The Netherlands-based beer maker Heineken NV in April this year launched its beer brand Heineken Silver on the metaverse. "We launched Heineken Silver in the metaverse first as an ironic take on a product launch to highlight that we believe the best way to experience Heineken is in the real world,” remarked Bram Westenbrink, brand director, Heineken, while speaking to the press.

Public sector bank Union Bank of India too has entered this space. In July this year, it has launched its virtual lounge named Uni-verse. US-based bank JPMorgan Chase entered the metaverse in February this year by opening a virtual lounge named Onyx lounge. “There is a lot of client interest to learn more about the metaverse,” affirmed Christine Moy, JPMorgan’s head of crypto-currency and the metaverse. “We put together our white paper to help clients cut through the noise and highlight what the current reality is.”

  • Embracing the brave new world of metaverse

    Embracing the brave new world of metaverse

A few Indian companies have got into the metaverse by offering non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Simply put, an NFT represents ownership which cannot be disputed. To give an example: an artist can paint a picture on the computer. An NFT can be created out of this painting, where the NFT will have the finger prints of the file, a token name and a symbol. This is stored. It is important to note that the NFT will not have the original painting; it will only have the finger print, token name and symbol.

A buyer of NFT does not get a copy of the painting, he anticipates the value of NFT, which he has bought, to go up. The most cited example is that of the first tweet by the founder of Twitter, he made an NFT out of it and sold it for a little over $2.9 million. This tweet is still in the public domain, but there is only one owner.

Reportedly, many global companies are looking to have a chief metaverse officer. French advertising company Publicis Groupe thought perhaps a machine could do a better job and, so, appointed a machine to fill the slot. The name of the machine is Leon. The company issued a press note to this effect in June this year. 

“The metaverse is an endless, unknown territory to explore with creativity,” said Marco Venturelli, chief creative officer, Publicis France, creator of Leon. “To truly innovate we have to experiment and learn as we go. Leon’s mission is to motivate all of us to be brave and progressive, because the earlier we move, the further we can go”.

While companies are still struggling with this new concept, Delaware-based Metarverse Holdings, officially announced in September this year that Dubai will become the world's first virtual city. A beta version is expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2022.

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