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Woman shopping for a blouse within a virtual reality metaverse space while wearing augmented reality glasses.
Woman shopping for a blouse within a virtual reality metaverse space while wearing augmented reality glasses.
   

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      Mike Corrigan
      Michael Corrigan,

      Staff System Engineer

      Analog Devices

      Author Details
      Michael Corrigan
      Michael Corrigan is a staff system engineer within the Consumer Business Unit of Analog Devices where he actively collaborates with teams across ADI to solve our customers’ problems. He qualified from Munster Technological University in 2002 and has also completed a Masters in VLSI from UL in 2015.
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      METAVERSE: BUILDING BLOCKS TO THE FUTURE


      When you think about the metaverse, what immediately comes to mind? Members of Generation Alpha gaming with friends? NFTs? People wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets? Maybe even memories of the excitement Second Life gained—and subsequently lost—when it first launched nearly 20 years ago?

      In a market still yet undefined, the potential use cases for the metaverse are as vast and varied as your imagination can take you. One thing metaverse experiences have in common, however, is they all rely on strong underlying and complementary technology.

      FROM THE CALCULATOR WATCH TO THE METAVERSE

      Father and daughter sitting at a desk to study earth sciences. The daughter is wearing a virtual reality headset, and an augmented reality of the planet earth overlays over the scene.
      The metaverse opens up exciting new avenues of exploration for all generations.

      Mathematics professor Edward Thorp created the first wearable computer in the 1960s, developed around an idea for a portable device that could predict roulette outcomes. Today, wearable technology has become ubiquitous, and the category has expanded far beyond watches to include augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets.

      +92% Growth
      AR/VR HEADSET SHIPMENTS YOY IN 20211

      Headset technology continues to mature, and with it, popularity, demand, and competition are increasing. Analysts at IDC recently reported that AR/VR headset shipments grew by more than 92% year-over-year (YOY) in 2021. The firm says that exponential growth will continue, predicting an additional 46.9% (YOY) increase in shipments this year and double-digit growth through 2026 as global shipments of AR/VR headsets surpass 50 million units by the end of the forecast.

      The predominant driver behind this surge in sales is gaming, a subsection of which occurs in the metaverse. But it won’t be long before the inverse is true—that gaming is just a subsection of the metaverse.


      The metaverse won’t be built overnight, but ADI is well positioned to help our customers build out the macro infrastructure needed to deliver an immersive metaverse experience. From cloud, network, and energy infrastructures, to edge devices, ADI has compelling technologies that help our customers on their metaverse journey.


      THE METAVERSE AND ITS OPPORTUNITY FOR B2B

      The metaverse is being described as the next evolution of how we use the internet. During the early days of the internet, communication was only one way. Content was published on static pages and there was no way to respond or interact with it. In the next evolution, the web became more social, users could interact with content, companies, and one another. This was the birth of social media and some of the biggest companies in the world evolved from this evolution—for example, Amazon, Meta (Facebook), and Google. We haven’t yet entered the next evolution but it promises a more personalized experience that is a user-controlled internet, as well as the home for immersive experiences.

      $1 TRILLION
      METAVERSE MARKET OPPORTUNITY2

      A JPMorgan Chase study estimated the metaverse to be a more than $1 trillion market opportunity, citing “the metaverse will likely infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years.” While much of that revenue opportunity lies in gaming, retail, events, and other consumer markets, as JPMorgan noted, “Business leaders and boardrooms around the world are now asking themselves, ‘What is my metaverse strategy? What am I supposed to be doing in the metaverse?’”

      IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE POSSIBILITIES OF THE METAVERSE

      Immersive gaming is driving AR/VR headset sales, but an immersive experience is not necessarily about strapping on a headset to live in a virtual world. It can also be experienced when you go out into the real, but augmented, world.

      For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that many ailments that typically sent us to a doctor’s office could be effectively diagnosed and treated from the comfort of our home. The metaverse will take that concept a step further by creating virtual offices that some are dubbing metahealth.

      Man is laying in a hammock wearing metaverse glasses while speaking to his doctor on a virtual reality overlayed video chat.
      Get in-depth health screenings from your hammock—it’s possible with the metaverse.

      Imagine a world where your smartwatch alerts your doctor’s office that something is wrong, triggering an appointment. In this world, your avatar greets the person at the front desk, waits in a virtual waiting room without risk of catching a cold from another patient, and consults with the doctor's avatar, or the actual doctor. Together, you and/or your avatars can look at the same documents, explore test results, and discuss options for care. Perhaps your doctor brings in a specialist who can help diagnose you. This specialist could live a plane ride away from you, but the metaverse would bring him or her into the comfort of your home.

      You could extrapolate from this example to imagine a salesperson’s avatar showing you furniture in a digital twin of your living room, going on a preview tour of a city or hotel before booking a flight to visit, or shopping for and trying on clothes without having to change out of your pajamas—your avatar will model them for you.

      4 CRUCIAL AREAS FOR SUCCESSFUL METAVERSE DEPLOYMENT

      The future metaverse will require an amazing 1000× computing power compared to today.3 If you’re looking to leverage the metaverse in any way, this figure should guide you in determining how to approach successful deployment, including in these four key areas:

      Cloud computing servers

      1. Cloud Compute Power

      The ways in which we use the internet today are already pushing rapid growth of hyperscale data centers. When the metaverse reaches its potential, the required compute power will grow 1000-fold according to Intel® and, thus, more sophisticated data centers will grow along with it. Successfully powering the metaverse will require high density servers, AI accelerators, storage, and networking systems, as well as optical control solutions for gigabit connectivity and sensor solutions for data center infrastructure development.

      Big city seen from top down with a networking graphic overlay.

      2. Network Infrastructure

      Lagging video, long load times, and poor connections are a nonstarter in the metaverse. The real world around us doesn’t buffer and, therefore, the metaverse shouldn’t either. If you think latency—the time it takes for data to pass from one point on a network to another—matters in today’s world, imagine latency impacting the way you interact with people, products, and places in the metaverse. Studies have also shown that latency is the leading cause of VR headset-induced motion sickness.

      Solar panels, wind turbines and electric energy storage containers with sunny day and blue skies in background.

      3. Energy

      One study showed that one AI language processing model’s estimated carbon footprint was over 626,000 pounds of CO2.4 For the metaverse, the energy consumption and emissions would be astronomical; therefore, it must rely on green energy sources (solar and wind). Storing and distributing that energy is the biggest challenge as batteries typically store unused green energy to maximize their effectiveness. An effective battery management system (BMS) is needed to closely monitor, control, and distribute the reliable charge and discharge of the entire battery system during its lifetime.

      Woman looking at a laptop computer in a technology environment and server machines behind her.

      4. Edge Devices

      The intelligent edge revolution is here and now. Edge computing has developed in response to the massive growth of bandwidth demand from distributed devices, especially in the metaverse where real-time applications require local processing and storage capabilities for data generated around the world. To deliver such immersive experiences, the metaverse needs multiple technologies embedded in the vision, audio, and human machine interface subsystems, all of which need significant processing power at the edge. For lowest latency and increased processing, at the lowest power possible, AI at the edge will be key. Processing closer to the sensor reduces power to transfer data off a device and ensures lowest latency with compute power locally rather than in the cloud.

      IF YOU DON’T BUILD IT, THEY WON’T COME

      Young woman wearing a virtual reality headset with digital technology wave overlay in background.

      The metaverse is poised to influence every aspect of our lives, but Analog Devices believes that if the metaverse is to become ubiquitous, it must be easily accessed anytime, anywhere, without limiting or being intrusive to the person wearing it.

      These goals can only be met if we can build the necessary infrastructure to support them. The intelligent edge will play a key role in a collaborative effort needed to generate the necessary compute power—all the while using effective, renewable energy sources, and enhancing network infrastructure to support unprecedented levels of data. Analog Devices is positioned to help build this infrastructure today.

      ADI’s portfolio of data center solutions ranges from power management to optical control for gigabit connectivity and, finally, to sensor solutions for data center infrastructure development. We have also been at the forefront in planning, designing, and building core wireless technologies that make today’s low latency 5G network infrastructure possible, bringing unprecedented high performance with low power, security, and smart algorithms. And we can help make both power reduction and green power supplies a reality with our battery management solutions.

      So, whether you’re designing a metahealth facility, a virtual shopping experience, or the next hit immersive gaming experience, designing a robust infrastructure must come first.

      References

      1“AR & VR Headsets Market Share.” IDC.
      2 JPMorgan Study Estimate. JPMorgan Chase, 2022.
      3“Powering the Metaverse.” Intel, December 2021.
      4Karen Hao. “Training a Single AI Model Can Emit as Much carbon as Five Cars in their Lifetimes.” MIT Technology Review, June 2019.