Metaverse, the term coined in 1992 by the science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson, is destined to be the buzzword in 2022. For some it is an improved version of virtual reality and for others, the future of the Internet, which some have baptized such as Post-Internet and others such as Web 3.0. What everyone agrees on is that, in this new environment, artificial intelligence will have a decisive role and that the way in which we interact and work will be revolutionized.
The industrial sector is also taking the first steps to enter the metaverse. In our case, PICVISA has artificial intelligence and vision solutions that can help us take this technologically crucial step. In this sense, we have developed a simulation of what our company’s showroom could be like in the metaverse (Link video), the ideal digital complement for our Test Center in Calaf, a full-scale test plant in which we already carry out remote recycling.
THE SECOND DIGITAL REVOLUTION
The impact that the metaverse will have on the industry will be similar to the digitization experienced in the last decade. Companies that do not have a presence in this new digital environment will be at a clear competitive disadvantage. The first step that the industry has taken in this regard has been the creation of so-called digital twins, virtual replicas of its production plants that allow real data to be used to simulate products or processes that have not yet been applied in real industrial environments.
In these digital twins, an increasingly common technology in Industry 4.0, the real assets of the factories appear in a three-dimensional environment… and in real time. In this way, virtually any scenario can be simulated and new business opportunities explored with significant reductions in operating costs and with the highest quality and process safety. Used correctly, these digital twins make it easier and faster to drive business innovation. The automobile company BMW, for example, uses them to monitor its production plants.
FROM THE DIGITAL TWINS TO THE METAVERSE
The metaverse, however, will mark a new level of innovation, improving the simulation environment. While digital twins copy existing equipment, the metaverse will require no connection to physical assets. Simulations in this environment will allow thousands of possible scenarios to be tested. By doing so, real-time information on equipment performance will be obtained and the results of facility expansions or downsizing can be predicted.
Recently, for example, the first virtual factory in the metaverse was inaugurated in South Korea in which, using virtual reality glasses, you can manipulate the machinery and observe the manufacturing process of plastic screws. Visitors to this virtual factory can, for example, change the settings of the injection molding machines or the speed of the production process without having to close down the physical plant facilities. Thus, it could be said that the industrial metaverse is the confluence of the internet of things, artificial intelligence and mixed reality (physical plus virtual reality).
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE METAVERSE
In the future, factories will be able to experience, from the implementation of the functions of the metaverse, a revolutionary transformation that will increase their competitiveness thanks to continuous simulations, which offer the possibility of maintaining continuous and effective visibility of the entire line of production and its future. Additionally, the metaverse will also help reduce costs and waste by accurately predicting how many workers are needed for a task and which machines are needed for each application.
On the other hand, one of the greatest advantages of using these metaversal simulations in industry is the level of security they provide. As the platform does not need to be linked to existing assets, dangerous simulations can be performed without damaging machinery. The metaverse can also increase the safety of human workers by simulating their avatars as they grip tools and assemble components to find the most ergonomic strategies to reduce health problems and accidents.
The revolution of the metaverse will transform the world…in time. Before, however, it has to face challenges improving connectivity and interaction. When it is achieved, this environment more typical of science fiction will be a definitive part of our daily lives.