Advice: There is real value for automakers in the metaverse. Those who say it’s just a game world are wrong.

In October 2021, Facebook announced it would change its name to Meta META,
-7.59%.
And seemingly overnight, the idea of ​​a Web3 revolution based on virtual reality technology, blockchain, and non-replaceable tokens — also known as the metaverse — came into vogue.

But the metaverse dates back to 30 years ago, when author Neal Stephenson coined the term in his sci-fi novel “Snow Crash.” Indeed, the concept of a virtual world running almost parallel to our physical dimension sounds like science fiction. But the metaverse is here to stay and will affect every aspect of our lives, including transportation and car manufacturers.

The metaverse is essentially a shared online space that allows users to create their own avatar and interact in a digital environment built by technological innovations such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Current intended targets include virtual business meetings, virtual events such as concerts and conferences, and virtual retailers – but it is much more than a virtual gaming world.

We’re just starting to explore what the Metaverse has to offer, but several automakers have already seized the opportunity to contribute to this revolution. I believe their efforts will yield substantial benefits as consumers become more familiar with the future present.

In this virtual reality world built on blockchain technology, every vehicle – real and virtual – and each of its components would exist as NFTs, verified by the automaker and stored in the ledger for all to see. . This will facilitate an economy of automakers where secondary sales last a lifetime.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will impact the industry in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Development and testing: Automakers can test every step of the vehicle development process in the metaverse, dramatically reducing costs and risks and reviving concept cars that never came to fruition. Engineers could react in real time with changes to everything from the structural body to aesthetics and ergonomics.

  2. Problem diagnosis and feedback: With the sheer volume of transactions taking place in the metaverse, automakers can take customer feedback and send it to factories and dealers. In particular, they were able to see how customers react to vehicles that have not yet been launched. They could also perform remote diagnostics on physical cars and virtual cars and again improve efficiency while reducing costs.

  3. Customization: cars will consist of thousands of parts, all representing a single NFT. Customers can start building a car in a virtual world, almost like building blocks, going beyond customizing paint and burn-in coatings. They can add the layers to the vehicle through a software-based car configurator, but not the actual build from the production line.

  4. Gamification: Automakers would have an easier time gamifying end-to-end race-to-retail experiences, where users build a vehicle in a car configurator and then take it to the track. They would sell entire cars or auto parts that customers can build in the metaverse and use to compete with other players worldwide.

  5. Dealership and Delivery: Since a customer’s test drive takes place efficiently in the comfort of their own home, automakers can use the Metaverse as a first-mover opportunity. The car could be sold in the metaverse and then physically delivered to a customer’s driveway.

  6. Compliance and innovation: By entering the metaverse on a public blockchain and using the identity layer to authenticate people and assets within a trusted ecosystem, the gap between Web2 (the Internet today) and The Web3 (blockchain-based and decentralized) that is traditionally has existed back the world’s largest companies of using blockchain can be bridged.

In short, web2 surfs the internet. It uses centralized systems such as a company-managed top-level domain. There is no privacy as to use the products your data is mined and sold. Web3 surfs the web. You have nodes managed by thousands of people, so it’s more secure and less centralized. Your data is yours. Your privacy is yours with innovations like Zero Knowledge Proof.

It’s a bit surreal but exciting. And all this cannot be reduced to just playing with cars in a game world. So, as fanciful as it may seem at first glance, at least to the skeptics, there’s no better time than the present for automakers to get into the race.

Lone Fønss Schrøder is CEO of Concordium, a blockchain company, and vice president of Volvo Cars.

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