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What is the industrial metaverse 
From digital twins to an ‘Internet of Experiences’

Jacques Bacry
6 Feb 2023

The use of virtual and mixed reality will have a significant impact on customer-facing sectors, but we believe the true step change will take place in the industrial metaverse.

What is the metaverse? At Capgemini, we define it as a blended space of virtual and physical interactions that can be used to improve the customer experience. For major brands, this technological evolution is often interpreted as the creation of richer and deeper interactions with the people who buy their products and services, whether they’re at home or at play.

However, we believe the current hype for all things metaverse is misdirected. Certainly, immersive technologies will impact on customer-facing sectors, the true step change will take place in the industrial metaverse. Here, organizations will use virtual environments to transform operations in organizations across the public and private sectors. The impact of the industrial metaverse on work and society will be inexorable.

A recent Capgemini Research Institute report explored this potential in more depth; Total Immersion; How immersive experiences and the metaverse benefit customer experience and operations, found that 77% of consumers expect immersive experiences to impact how they interact with people, brands and services, but also that organizations recognize the broad opportunities it presents to drive value across the business, specifically in their  internal operations. And my own paper On the way to the industrial Metaverse takes a much deeper dive into how metaverse technologies will help achieve operational excellence in the industrial workplace. This blog provides an introduction to the key topics.

Technology convergence: The evolution of the industrial metaverse

This potential for new business models means the metaverse is a hot topic in technology departments, marketing organizations, and executive boardrooms. Bolstered by significant investments from cash-rich Big Tech firms, business leaders are eager to explore the nascent metaverse in consumer-facing areas such as retailing and gaming.

Yet customer-facing deployments are not the only game in town. Away from the cacophonous hype of virtual try-ons and NFT tokens, there’s a set of hidden use cases that hold more promise: the industrial ones. These applications range from optimal resource utilization to reduced travel requirements and onto advanced simulation models.

While the metaverse has been popularized recently, its evolution has involved a 20-year convergence of IT, automation, and cognitive models, including the internet, natural language processing, lean manufacturing, and failure prediction in mission-critical systems. The industrial metaverse is the next stage of this ongoing convergence.

As opposed to the static spaces of the consumer metaverse, the dynamic spaces of the industrial metaverse are complex and layered. This ever-evolving reality involves interactions on a deeper, more collaborative level. We suggest the dynamic experiences of the industrial metaverse are best exemplified by the next generation of digital twin technology.

From digital twins to the “Internet of Experiences”

Digital twins are virtual representations of real-life objects, processes, systems, and their interconnections. Employees are already using twins in enterprises to perform practical tasks, such as system simulation, monitoring, and maintenance – and all without having to interact with real-world objects.

The industrial metaverse will take digital twins to a new level. This shift will become manifest via a progression from the Internet of Things, where data is exchanged between sensors in physical objects over networks, to the “Internet of Twins,” where an interconnection between digital objects and information flows creates an added dimension.

In this Internet of Twins, workplace users will carry out co-design and co-simulate processes at scale. For example, we envisage a factory in which equipment, products, and people are all connected. And the way these elements operate – and their associated behaviors – could be simulated in a dynamic, virtual experience.

Employees will encounter richer representations of the situations they encounter. Unlike in static consumer metaverses, these dynamic industrial metaverses will involve collaboration between different digital twins and their associated simulations.

By working together, employees will use this dynamic space of systems and data to create solutions to the problems they find. This dynamic metaverse of interconnected machines and humans will form the basis for a new era, which we refer to as the “Internet of Experiences.”

Opening a multitude of use cases

This Internet of Experiences creates opportunities for using metaverse capabilities across a variety of sectors, including engineering, manufacturing, and supply chains. We consider those in detail in On the way to the industrial Metaverse, but let’s outline some of those use cases now:

  • Production-level simulations – Testing manufacturing scenarios across machines, plants, and supply chains, and exploring different strategies across an ecosystem.
  • Collaborative R&D – Producing interactive environments for the design of products and services, so that they can be tested before mass production.
  • Health and safety training – Creating virtual representations of real-life operations so that employees can collaborate in test environments before working in the field.
  • Smart cities – Using data to analyze the interaction between people, vehicles, and other facilities to manage our fast-growing cities.
  • Personal support services – Providing robots that watch over people in need, communicating with other assistants, and facilitating access to other necessities such as groceries.

It’s our contention that enterprise-level applications will create huge benefits for organizations and the people they serve, both internally and externally. As well as delivering value through better designed products and cost-effective services, the industrial metaverse will provide advantages in another critical area: sustainability.

The more you improve simulation capabilities, the more you improve the potential for sustainability. Take digital twins, which allow employees to simulate potential scenarios across the lifecycle of a product or service. By using data to anticipate safety issues and future behaviors, the right choices can be made the first time, and finite resources can be saved.

Conclusion: Overcoming challenges to deliver results

By blending the physical and digital in the industrial metaverse, your business will be able to change its operations and potentially society in general for the better. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

But before you get ready to invest your company’s cash, it’s important to issue a note of caution: delivering the Internet of Experiences will be far from straightforward. There are a number of significant technological and cultural barriers that will need to be overcome.

We discuss these challenges in the full paper, suggesting that organizations should start exploring the industrial metaverse now, working with metaverse partners to identify potential use cases that make sense for the business. The convergence of technologies – while complex – will also create incredible opportunities. Now we just need to grasp them!

Read  the full paper, On the way to the industrial Metaverse, here.

Jacques Bacry

Executive Vice President – Digital Continuity & Convergence Group Offer Leader
Jacques is Digital Continuity Group Offer Leader, with an objective to define and execute the strategy in this dynamic domain including PLM and Digital twin. His work is focused on unleashing the promise of end-to-end digital continuity across the entire product lifecycle, by seamlessly integrating ideation, engineering, manufacturing, and aftersales into one unified digital collaboration. He is a champion of PLM as an enabler for Industry 4.0 because it integrates the development of products, production, and services.