US manufacturing firms are flocking to the metaverse — WEF

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A rising number of manufacturing firms in the United States are shifting their focus to the industrial metaverse to tackle complex challenges across the entire production line, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

According to a report released on March 12 by the WEF, 92% of US manufacturing executives are exploring various use cases of the metaverse. 

It cited survey results collected from 100 of the largest companies across ten industries, indicating that on average, each executive was investigating up to six different use cases.

The WEF further highlighted that one factor driving the interest is the need for the industrial sector to “elevate its ambitions” in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of technological, macroeconomic, societal and business-to-business (B2B) customer trends are accelerating and converging to create new challenges and opportunities for growth in the industrial sector.”

This has forced the need for manufacturing companies to find ways to speed up production cycles while also increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness through predictive forecasting.

The report emphasized how different companies are using digital twin technology, utilizing virtual models to represent physical objects. Amazon has been implementing cloud services platform NVIDIA Omniverse to run simulations to improve warehouse design and robot workstations. 

Similarly, Mercedes Benz is also using the platform to design manufacturing assembly facilities.

Meanwhile, on March 1, Cointelegraph reported that Telecoms infrastructure firm Nokia has been using the metaverse in Australia to potentially assist Cessna aircraft technicians at remote airports.

Industrial and enterprise use cases across the value chain. Source: World Economic Forum

Additionally, it pointed out that the industrial metaverse can be used across the product life cycle, including pre-production, production, and post-production stages.

In particular, product and service design, process simulations, plant design and management, as well as product testing and quality assurance.

“Although real-life applications of the consumer metaverse are still developing, the industrial metaverse is ahead on the adoption curve, aligned with actual problems and business imperatives and driven by on-the-ground implementation.”

It was emphasized that the information technology and vehicle manufacturing industries are leading the way in the industrial metaverse sector.

“Automotive, energy, software and platforms, and aerospace and defense currently lead the way in industrial metaverse investment and activity,” the report stated.

However, some companies are hesitant to keep investing in the industrial metaverse because of the rise of generative artificial intelligence.

“This decline is in part due to the rise of generative AI; there is an assumption among many that its emergence has caused the metaverse to retreat into the background,” it noted.

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Although the metaverse is increasing efficiency in certain sectors, concerns have been raised about its potential negative impact on other industries, particularly the creative arts sector.

On March 8, United Kingdom researchers concluded that it is necessary to formulate approaches for addressing the enforcement and governance of IP issues in the metaverse.

“Blockchain’s inherent resistance to change or correction undermines the ability to flexibly manage or update IP rights,” the researchers highlighted.

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