Tricky Territory: Metaverse adoption doesn’t come easy

Tricky Territory: Metaverse adoption doesn’t come easy

While a NUMBER of companies in India have invested in metaverse and related technologies, their success will depend on how it overcomes the barriers of affordability, regulatory uncertainty, safety and security. The determinants of adoption of the metaverse will be unique to each industry, and adoption levels may vary depending on the business applications.

Research firm Gartner defines the metaverse as a collective virtual shared 3D space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. Gartner expects that a complete metaverse will be device independent and not owned by a single vendor, but will have a virtual economy of its own, enabled by digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

An organization’s digital immaturity, interoperability and data privacy are some of the main challenges to adopting the metaverse, according to Gartner. “Limited understanding of the technology and the skepticism surrounding it make it difficult for suppliers to present the solution. Second, there is no interoperability between the various products and services currently marketed as “metaverse”. Third, in terms of privacy, there is an increased risk of harassment, hacked avatars, data breaches, etc. Similarly, with social media platforms today, and any forum where users can interact with each other, there is a risk of behavior that could be considered offensive, dangerous or potentially illegal,” said Anushree Verma, director analyst, Gartner.

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The high cost of wearable hardware such as eye glasses, haptic suites, etc., limits large-scale use of the metaverse, according to a Deloitte report.

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“The success of metaverse penetration will depend on organizations’ digital maturity to leverage the core of phygital immersive experience, trust layers, financial infrastructure, creative economy, etc., and the pace of development of the surrounding ecosystem,” said Sreeram Ananthasayanam, partner, Deloitte India. “Reasonability of underlying technologies, which is a product of (a) market sentiment and (b) government policy, will play a major role in the adoption of the metaverse.”

The Deloitte report states that unlike mobile numbers and email IDs, “a robust identifier that balances the demands of a holistic metaverse experience and security for individuals has yet to be developed. Currently, it is quite easy to create digital avatars of individuals without their consent and impersonate them across multiple immersive worlds.”

The large-scale use of the technology will depend on the ability of the platforms and the communities/entities that govern it to ensure a safe experience and secure digital assets for users. “This may not be an easy task as even established metaverse platforms have struggled internally to integrate security features into their metaverse services,” the report said. Building robust security and threat monitoring mechanisms into such platforms must be key areas of focus to widely accept and adopt the metaverse.

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Finally, regulations and laws can shape the use of technology. “For example, in India, the legal and regulatory position of the use of virtual digital assets, smart contracts, etc., is yet to be clarified. Therefore, large-scale use of metaverse may face difficulties in the near future,” the report said.

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Gartner says the metaverse will evolve over three overlapping phases: emerging, advanced, and mature. Each phase will be defined by distinctive influences across technology, market and product/service characteristics. “It is still in a new phase in India. The new metaverse stage consists of precursors represented by commercially available products and services we know today, such as social networks, online games, e-commerce, cryptocurrencies and NFTs,” said Verma.

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