Ferran Argelaguet will attend the Digital Tech Conference that will take place on Tuesday December 6 in Rennes. He will be one of the conference speakers: “ The metaverse, (ir)responsible innovation? which will address the main issues around this new technology.
Ferran ARGELAGUET, research associate at Inria
Dr. Ferran Argelaguet is part of the Hybrid team at Inria, recognized worldwide in the scientific field of virtual reality. His main research interests are the development and evaluation of user experience in virtual reality.
The metaverse is still a fuzzy concept for many people. What is your definition of metaverse?
The definition of metaverse is complicated, because there is no one metaverse, so the definition can vary depending on its purpose and context. There are several essential elements for any given metaverse:
- First of all, the metaverse can be considered a collaborative virtual environment, a place where people meet and interact with each other,
- Second, the metaverse must be experienced by being immersed in a virtual 3D environment, an environment that can be experienced through immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality,
- Finally, the metaverse must be consistent, users must be able to shape it and make it evolve over time.
The metaverse is often criticized. But, can this be a responsible innovation for society? For what areas?
As stated earlier, the number of metaverses is potentially infinite, and each of them can serve different purposes. Metaverses will be a new step in the development of communication and collaboration between citizens and professionals, and will have a potential impact in many fields.
For example, current videoconferencing tools, although they offer a good solution for a limited number of participants, discourage two-way exchanges between participants, and the visibility of other participants is limited. On the other hand, immersive technologies, which allow remote users to share a virtual space in 3D, can enhance these exchanges.
Another area that can benefit greatly from the features offered by metaverses is the cultural and artistic field. Although we are still far from creating a fully realistic experience, metaverses may allow users to collaboratively experience distant places and worlds, and express themselves through new art forms.
Do you have examples of new services that may emerge in the metaverse?
It’s hard to predict which solution will shine in the metaverse. However, I think telepresence is going to be one of the great things about the metaverse. Being able to meet and chat virtually with distant colleagues or family members could be just the beginning.
Immersive technologies allow participants to feel the presence of others, creating the illusion that you are physically sharing the space with others.
More advanced metaverses can also be used not only to chat with family and friends, but also to allow the exploration of complex information. In the same way that we can share our desktop screen during a conference call, we can share 3D data and review it with other meeting members. There may be many applications in data science, architecture review, or training.
On the other hand, what are the main risks associated with virtual environments? Why are so many people wary of this technology?
The risks associated with the metaverse are not that different from the risks we face with other technologies. Privacy exposure and harassment are risks in real life and social networks today. In addition, the metaverse is also associated with other controversial technologies such as blockchain and NFTs. This further increases distrust in these virtual worlds. However, some metaverses may raise potential new issues that require specific regulations, such as data and intellectual property protection.
In your opinion, what will be the main challenges for brands to successfully launch in the metaverse?
I think the success of a metaverse will be linked to its ability to provide high value services. The main problem from my point of view is that the currently available metaverses do not respond to a market need, they provide supply while waiting for the creation of demand. Market research is needed to better understand how metaverses can be a game changer.
According to a study by McKinsey, the metaverse market could represent up to 5 billion dollars in 2030. What is your opinion on these predictions?
I think the adoption of immersive technologies will increase, however, the economic success of these technologies will only be possible if they meet the real demand, and not all metaverses will be successful. However, given the rapid development and growth of immersive technologies, I expect some of these metaverses.