As we move into an increasingly digital world, businesses must be prepared for the transformation to come. One of the biggest emerging shifts centers on edge computing and its ability to support the metaverse — a digital reality comprised of virtual worlds, augmented layers, networks and services.
Edge computing is seen as a solution that could facilitate this transition by providing lower latency, improved bandwidth, greater scalability and more data control when compared with cloud-computing resources.
In this blog post, we'll explore how edge computing can help make possible a metaverse based around user interaction — from socializing to shopping to communication — across multiple online locations.
Metaverse Adoption Gaining Steam
The metaverse is a hot topic right now, and with good reason. It promises an immersive and expansive network of persistent, real-time virtual 3D worlds. A fully realized and rich digital universe that runs parallel to our physical world where you can socialize with friends, learn, meet new people, game, shop, and much more.
The metaverse is still in its infancy, but it has massive potential. For example, while the global metaverse market was valued at $63.83 billion in 2021, it's projected to grow to $1,527.55 billion by 2029.
The metaverse is exciting precisely because it's attainable. We're currently progressing towards Web 4.0 - a version of the internet where augmented reality (AR) and big data will play a huge role. And this is where the metaverse comes in.
The emergence of Web 4.0 brings with it a plethora of technologies that are crucial for the success and development of the metaverse. Among these technologies, AR (Augmented Reality) stands out as a key component. AR enables users to overlay digital information onto the physical world, creating immersive experiences in real-time. In the context of the metaverse, AR can enhance the virtual environment by seamlessly blending digital elements with the real world, thereby bridging the gap between the physical and virtual realms.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology that plays a pivotal role in both Web 4.0 and the metaverse. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data, learn from patterns, and make intelligent decisions.
In the metaverse, AI can be utilized to create dynamic and responsive virtual environments, personalized avatars, and intelligent NPCs (non-player characters) that interact with users. Furthermore, AI-powered chatbots can enhance user experiences and provide personalized assistance within the metaverse.
Blockchain, often associated with cryptocurrencies, is also a vital technology for Web 4.0 and the metaverse. With its decentralized and transparent nature, blockchain can enable secure and verifiable transactions within the metaverse. It can facilitate the ownership and trade of virtual assets, such as digital art, virtual real estate, and in-game items.
Blockchain's immutability ensures the protection of intellectual property rights and prevents fraud or unauthorized modifications. By providing a trustless and reliable infrastructure, blockchain contributes to the growth and sustainability of the metaverse.
The Metaverse and Cloud Computing
As the metaverse matures and expands, demand for cloud computing services will skyrocket. Why? Because hosting rich and complex 3D environments requires abundant compute and storage resources. And very few businesses will want to meet this demand with their own hardware. So instead, they'll rely on cloud computing providers.
In the new area of the metaverse, companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google will have a big influence. These companies possess the infrastructure and capabilities to support the immense storage and processing demands of the metaverse.
With their vast data centers and advanced technologies, they can provide the necessary computing resources to enable the creation and maintenance of virtual worlds within the metaverse.
However, it is important to note that they won't be the sole players in this space. The metaverse is an expansive and diverse ecosystem that will require collaboration and participation from various stakeholders. Smaller cloud providers, startups, and niche players will also have a role to play in shaping the metaverse's development. These entities can bring unique perspectives, innovations, and specialized services that cater to specific industries or user needs.
Moreover, as the metaverse evolves, we can expect new players to enter the scene, bringing fresh ideas and technologies to the table. This dynamic landscape will create opportunities for competition, partnerships, and specialization within the cloud computing industry.
Big cloud companies will play an important role in the metaverse, but they won't be the only ones. Other people will join in too. This will create a different environment with lots of ideas and opportunities for progress.
The metaverse will need hybrid cloud solutions to make sure that everyone can have the same experience. This is because it prevents slow internet speeds or connection issues from stopping people from using the metaverse.
Why Edge Computing Is Vital to the Metaverse's Success
As we touched on above, the need for improved performance and seamless experiences will drive changes in cloud computing as we know it today. However, this won't stop at hybrid cloud expansion or specialized cloud providers. Edge computing - where compute, storage, security, and networking happens physically closer to end-users, will also have a vital role to play.
Edge computing improves response times and saves bandwidth, making it perfect for many metaverse use cases. For example, consider time-critical video games like first-person shooters. These games require instant feedback for actions, and latency over 30ms can result in poor hit registration when you fire at other players.
In other words, high latency kills your ability to play the game as intended. But when these games are hosted in data centers across the world, higher latency becomes inevitable. In fact, even on the fastest connections, there is a latency of 5 microseconds (0.005 milliseconds) for every 1km of cable traveled by the data. Edge computing solves this problem.
Beyond video games, latency has a massive impact on our decision-making and overall enjoyment of immersive experiences. For example, a mere two-second delay in load time during a transaction can lead to shopping cart abandonment rates of 87%.
Edge computing helps make virtual worlds faster and smoother. It can help developers create better experiences in 3D space that lots of people can enjoy at the same time.
In conclusion, the adoption of the metaverse is gaining momentum and edge computing is the key to making this a reality. It will help reduce latency, resolve scaling issues, and allow for more immersive experiences.
Cloud providers of all sizes will be involved in powering the world’s edge networks. There are still numerous requirements and considerations that must be taken into account before rolling out this technology — fortunately, many companies have already started taking steps towards sustainable deployments of 5G-enabled edge applications.
We need visionaries who can imagine what such an incredible shift in our digital reality will mean for society in general. With that said, it’s an exciting time for technology and innovation! What are your thoughts on the future of the metaverse?