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Hyderabad: What started as a fictional concept in 1992 is slowly becoming a reality – albeit in the virtual world.

Metaverse, which was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his fictional book Snow Crash has over the past few years gained prominence – thanks to Facebook which has transformed into Meta. The Facebooks, Microsofts and the Apples of the world have already ventured into this, and now, smaller companies and startups are also getting into this niche space.

The concept of real humans interacting and communicating in a virtual scenario was always part of the fiction world with movies and books depicting this through visual effects and graphics. But now, it has become part of the real world with many companies using the same graphics and visual effects showcasing a virtual avatar of a real person.

In simpler terms, Metaverse is an online/virtual world wherein human avatars connect either by way of playing games, buying and selling things, participating in similar interest events, or just being an audience for an event of their choice. Many consider the Metaverse an extension of the internet wherein people can now communicate with each other not just through texts or images or videos but also through their virtual avatars.

With this way of communication also came the need for developing a currency for the digital world through which humans could shop, buy tickets or just collect different things. Thus, came into being the digital currency in different forms like bitcoins, cryptocurrency, and others.

While some of the Metaverse can be accessed through one’s computer by logging into the virtual world which will create one”s virtual avatar, some might also need external gadgets like the virtual reality (VR) headset to have a fully immersive experience. So, all the above put together – cryptocurrency, bitcoins, VR, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain – is what constitutes an evolved Metaverse.

A Mckinsey report says, “The metaverse – like many innovations – is shrouded in mysticism and skepticism. Proponents believe that the Metaverse will be revolutionary and fully transform the way we work, shop, socialise, and play. Others are more skeptical and see a hype-fueled fad that appeals to gamers and celebrities.”

Bandwidth Requirements
While the bandwidth requirement for Metaverse might vary according to the usage, many believe that a typical bandwidth of 2 and 5Gbps would be needed. A report by Credit Suisse also mentioned that this network of three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds focused on social connections would push data consumption by 20 times in the next 10 years across the globe. The report suggests that the 5G service already supports the Metaverse ecosystem, but the emergence of 6G in the coming years would further enhance its usage.

Application of Metaverse
From healthcare to virtual offices and real estate to retail, the Metaverse is set to change the way we live. From being associated with gaming and a technologically advanced species, Metaverse is slowly making its way into our day-to-day lives.

For example, in real estate, developers are using Metaverse to showcase homes that are yet to be built using 3D images and VR sets. Elsewhere, in healthcare, doctors are using this technology to improve outcomes and for better diagnoses.

Similarly, with the pandemic taking over office spaces, many companies are toying with the idea of virtual offices wherein employees are attending the office virtually from the comfort of their homes.

Meet startups creating digital avatars

Many Hyderabad-based startups are working on Metaverse across spectrum.

While the most popular among the Metaverse startups from the city is Gamitronics founded by Rajat Ojha, there are other startups in this space that are doing some path-breaking work in this space.

NextMeet, a Hyderabad-based startup offers an avatar-based immersive PC/VR Metaverse platform that enables remote working, collaboration, meetings, distance learning, and networking for business, education, and events. As per the company’s website, one needs to install the application on Windows/macOS PC/laptops with a minimum requirement of i3 with 4GB RAM, register and verify email to login, and enter the NextMeet world to explore the Metaverse.

Similarly, another city startup Imaginate helps enterprises create digital avatars of their employees to collaborate in the virtual world.

Gamitronics has made a mark for itself by hosting India’s first-ever concert on Metaverse by Daler Mehndi, then hosting the State’s SpaceTech policy unveiling on Metaverse and recently it has partnered with Airtel to launch India’s first Metaverse multiplex.

Tech Mahindra in February announced the launch of TechMVerse, its Metaverse practice to deliver interactive and immersive experiences in the Metaverse for its customers. The platform aims to transform customer experience and deliver real business outcomes and Tech Mahindra will leverage its network and infrastructure capabilities along with its foundational technological capabilities including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 5G, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Quantum Computing to build B2B use cases across sectors.

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Author: Howard Caldwell