Tim Berners Lee envisioned Web 3 to be semantic. A program that allows users to create, share and connect content via search and analysis based on the meaning of words rather than keywords or numbers. Web3 is the next generation of the internet that uses blockchain technology, decentralized autonomous organization, and runs on token-based economics. Many early-stage applications for web 3.0 exist already, such as Brave browser, Wolfram Alpha and Metaverse. Many companies are already making huge profits in the metaverse through virtual stores, concerts, and NFTs. Today we’re going to explore the metaverse and the role of AI in the metaverse, especially for businesses everywhere.
Metaverse – The next preferred channel of digital interactions
Metaverse is a mixed reality made up of a combination of technologies and trends like AR, head-mounted displays (HMDs), the Internet of Things (IoT), an augmented reality (AR) cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and spatial technologies; a persistent, immersive digital environment. An environment of independent, yet interconnected networks that will run on some protocols for communications. This environment enables persistent, decentralized, collaborative, interoperable digital content that intersects with the physical world’s real-time, spatially oriented, and indexed content.
These together give rise to new technologies and trends, to form a complete metaverse solution.
By 2026, 30% of the organizations in the world would have products and services ready for metaverse, up from negligible now – Gartner
If the current internet experience is two-dimensional–that is, you surf and scroll across it on a screen – metaverse is three-dimensional. You’ll be “walking” through it via connected headsets or glasses. There could be one metaverse or many independent metaverses but one thing appears to be certain: The metaverse would be an immersive next-generation version of the internet, likely rendered by virtual or augmented reality technology. We’ll be able to feel present, as if we’re right there, no matter how far we are. Some forms of hybrid work have become inevitable, and they will fuel ongoing interest in engaging work-based virtual realms, which Microsoft will probably label “commercial metaverses.” Microsoft has already begun floating the idea of having avatars in Teams.
Why does metaverse matter?
Metaverse will have a direct impact on multiple industries, such as communications and media, retail, electronics, semiconductors, manufacturing, engineering, education, and banking. It will also have a direct impact on product and service marketing, branding, and sales roles in the organization, as metaverse is the next frontier for online interaction.
The demands from metaverse would be to generate virtual spaces on-demand for a global audience, which would need the help of AI to scale. Just the way Meta CEO launched Builder Bot; another technology that he thinks will be crucial to the company’s vision of creating an immersive environment. This voice bot allows users to change their virtual surroundings with voice commands. An early version of the concept, called Builder Bot, was displayed at a virtual event detailing Meta’s latest AI research.
The metaverse is about the inescapable dematerialization of physical space, distance, and objects, which includes popular 3D games like Call Of Duty on our gaming system, Population One in our VR headsets, and Epic Games on our computers. Or even Google Assistant in our kitchen, Zoom in our virtual offices, Clubhouse on our phones, and Peloton in our home gyms. What happens when physical space is dematerialized? What was once scarce may become ample. You can be a samurai, a cop, a race car driver, or anything you might imagine in a game. Imagine what happens when you apply this to other known situations. For example, a product launch event in physical space can sell only a few seats in the front row — but a virtual event can create a personalized plane of existence around each individual in which you always enjoy the best seat in the house. In physical world interactions, metaverse will supply real-time, interesting, actionable information across scenarios. In order to scale these interactions, one would need to use AI – specifically conversational AI.
Role of conversational AI in Metaverse
The metaverse is uncharted territory. Some people may squirm at the chance of running a new channel, while others may be stoked, but it’s inevitable that companies may leverage the metaverse as a customer support channel in all fascinating ways. Consider how mobile messaging apps have developed as a go-to channel for customer care.
Big tech experts predict the metaverse to become the successor to mobile, making customer service virtual-first. This fuels the need for Conversational AI.
We envisioned the following scenarios where conversational AI is going to play a key role in scaling the digital interactions of the future.
Virtual events and experiences
AI can create environments, instances, slots, and virtual spaces on-demand based on the dynamic needs of the concert, event, or entertainment experience, allowing businesses to never have inventory challenges like in the real world. The cost to change virtual spaces, add or edit from environments is almost nothing, so businesses can easily expand or adapt as per what is working. For example, businesses can have their own voice bot like the builder bot for Meta that they can use for a range of activities, starting from creating their own event. Virtual events or experiences have gained a lot of popularity over the last 18 months. Today, we can extend more collaborative and immersive offerings to virtual events. If a company is performing an event tour at 10 different locations at the same time, conversational AI can help scale the experience with the help of a voice bot. Gamification in all ventures of the metaverse is likely to increase and to help scale such systems, AI can prove effective.
Conversational commerce with intelligent up-selling and cross-selling
Retail can extend its reach to an immersive shopping experience that allows for more complex products, which have been a challenge on mobile device applications. With the help of AI and metaverse, interactive experiences such as a demonstration in the biology lab, or a virtual store, become possible. For example, the salesman can log in and perform the demonstration for people who are located miles away because of the metaverse technology.
The demonstration can also be used for upselling and cross-selling. Business leaders, especially in the consumer products/services space, should be solidifying plans for “virtualizing” (tokenizing) their artifacts. They should also begin exploring how their enterprises might participate in future digital realms, even if they are only extensions of current e-commerce efforts. Virtual goods, properties, and accessories are taking off as digital humans move from skin to new realms. Coca-Cola, Stella Artois, Visa, and many other consumer product companies already have digital nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and are leveraging the intangible value of their brand for marketing and to drive new revenue streams. The complete management of inventory can be scaled and sales can grow with intelligent upselling through conversational AI.
- Intelligent upselling of virtual goods through Dynamic AI agents.
- Cross-selling basis context.
- Proactive recommendations basis past conversation analysis.
- Creation of avatars for audiences.
- Creation of virtual stores.
- Creation of events.
- Providing customer support and allowing people to self-serve queries.
- Helping people with workplace management such as application of leaves, scheduling virtual meetings, managing employee information, etc.
- Virtual order management.
Workplaces and creation of jobs
Since most companies have the mandate to work from home given the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, many people have not seen their colleagues in weeks, months, or since it all began. Metaverse will be able to house companies and let them have virtual workspaces that come with no infrastructure cost at all. The ability to still be there with colleagues in a shared room, interacting with each other while having all the meeting notes put down for them by a virtual assistant is not a distant dream. For employees everywhere, this means that they can have better collaborations. For enterprises, it means saving infrastructure costs, maintenance costs, and opening up new opportunities for people as space designers. In the metaverse, people can create highly realistic 3D avatars – that is, virtual representations of themselves – mirroring body language as they speak, entering VR and AR environments using those avatars. Conversational AI-powered chatbots or voice assistants will be able to assist employees with meeting schedules, proof of investments and ITR, leave applications, reimbursements, and so on.
Conversational AI is going to play a huge role in creating new job opportunities for people everywhere. While AI will take on some of the mundane and repetitive tasks, people can be left to do creative work. With the rise of the Metaverse, all kinds of new opportunities are set to rise with it like the need for a virtual space designer as opposed to an interior designer. Conversational AI can also be used to check on malicious activities in the Metaverse and put a stop to it besides recognizing those patterns better and becoming better for any future threats that may arise. Conversational AI will be responsible for testing and building gameplays and scenarios in games-based interactions on previous scenarios. This will free up programmers to work on complex use cases within the games.
Multilingual capabilities for audiences
One of the primary use cases or major subsets of AI involves natural language processing and natural language generation. In the metaverse, where the global audience can interact with each other, people would need to be able to converse with each other even with a language barrier. AI will be responsible for breaking those barriers. AI can help break down natural languages like English, convert them into a machine-readable format, perform analysis, arrive at a response, convert the results back into English and send it to the user. This entire process takes a fraction of a second – just like a real conversation. The results can be converted to any language as well allowing people of all ethnicities to interact.
Imagine “teleporting” from an office meeting into a social gathering, into a history class, or into an underwater tour — within any given interface/application. Although current metaverse experiences will not completely replace current digital interactions via apps, websites, and so forth, it is likely to pave the way to new types of interactions and business models to optimize these new use cases. This can cause interactive learning. Education will be greatly enhanced when we can change the environment anytime to anything. Some organizations are already exploring the idea of hosting virtual classrooms in the metaverse for educational purposes. Students will be allowed to choose their own course of studies or select projects and tasks scheduled as live VR sessions, which could take them anywhere from Ancient Greece for a history class or let them get up and close with the planets for astronomy.
Logistics can be an expensive affair especially when enterprises are trying to meet margins by cutting costs where necessary. When it comes to highly niche arenas such as airplane craftship or the rigging machinery that are the size of buildings, damages need a lot of resources to replace the works. In order to get the situation up to scale again, conversational AI can take on the task of training new people and helping with one-off repairs that would otherwise need human experts sourced in. People can save time that would otherwise be spent on teaching new employees. Real-world conversational AI examples are already taking off across the globe.
Audiences are key to the metaverse and an avatar’s accuracy will indicate the quality of experience for you and other people. An AI engine can analyze 2D user images or 3D scans to generate a highly realistic simulated rendition. A variety of facial expressions, emotions, hairstyles, features caused by aging, and more can be added to make the avatar more dynamic. Companies like Ready Player Me are already using conversational AI to help build avatars for the metaverse, and Meta is working on its own version of the technology. Similarly, enterprises everywhere can create their employee’s avatars and let them engage, interact and work together through virtual workplaces.
Whether you’re creating wayfinding for a stadium, school, department store, or theme park, there are some core wayfinding principles that must be considered in order for visitors to navigate themselves along the customer journey. The value of an effective wayfinding system is not only determined by a positive visitor experience, but by how you maximize the customer’s route and dwell time. Conversational AI can turn this entire experience into a strategic route making and create a way-finding ‘story’ which ensures that visitors are informed of what products/attractions/facilities are available and potentially increase revenue.