10 predictions on the future of extended reality and metaverse

07 April 2022 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

Extended reality and the metaverse will revolutionise work and life as we know it, according to a number of experts surveyed by KPMG, with many of the shifts to occur before the decade is out.

The professional services firm has canvassed more than a dozen global experts and industry leaders for their views on the future of extended reality and compiled the top predictions – including that by the end of the decade people will spend more physical conscious time in the metaverse than in the real world, or as many as 15 hours per day with a device on their heads.

The accounting and consulting firm believes such projections provide a clear case for businesses to act now.

10 predictions on the future of extended reality and metaverse

“Enthusiasts of extended reality (XR) have long dreamed of, experimented with, and adopted technologies that immersed them in new worlds beyond the limits of physics and time,” state the report authors, KPMG digital & data solutions lead Peter Xing and global Insights Centre director Kristin Boesenberg.

“We believe the industry is at an inflection point, and the time for business to act as we prepare for the next phase in the future of work and life as we know it.”

The expert predictions cover a range of areas likely to be impacted by the unfolding XR technology (with XR given as an umbrella term covering virtual, augmented or mixed realities), including around emerging capabilities, business models and economies in the metaverse. For those who believe we will soon spend the majority of our waking life in the metaverse, it naturally follows that its financial value will then start to challenge that of physical world assets.

In terms of uptake, David Whelan, the CEO of 3D spatial platform Engage, points to the rush to buy televisions following Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and the likelihood that when the first human lands on Mars in five or so years the event will supported by 360 degree cameras placed on its surface. “So your choice is going to be, am I going to watch this event on the telly or am I going to put on a headset and stand next to the person as they take that historic step?”

Whelan also believes that in the next three to five years, over half of the world’s office-based workforce will have shifted to fully remote work inside XR-supported platforms – with altered workplaces a common theme among the experts surveyed. Work meetings are expected to start commonly occurring in the metaverse as of next year, while there will also be full-time service and support jobs entirely performed within virtual reality worlds.

On the flip-side, concerns for safety and privacy were also highly common concerns, with calls for strong regulatory oversight. In a disturbing scenario, HTC’s China president Alvin Graylin noted that having EEG sensors in our devices in order to send signals and control things can be used both ways, with Whelan adding that through eye-tracking and biometric sensors a short stroll down a virtual street would reveal a tonne of personal information, including sexual preference.

Still, the advent of XR could have a revolutionary impact on what we believe it is to be fundamentally human. Graylin says; “Every piece of data you ever want to know is instantly available in front of your eyes. You’re fully able to use your brain not to do basic recall or research, but to actually make critical decisions. I think that’s going to change who we are as people. It’s going to change why we learn what we learn. We won’t have to (memorise stuff) anymore.”

The top ten predictions for extended reality and metaverse

The Mars landing by 2026 will be a watershed moment for XR as viewers step with the first astronaut onto Mars.

Board meetings occur in the Metaverse by 2023. In the following years XR will be second nature in terms of the language and operation of government and enterprises to share information and collaborate.

Access to higher education will become more democratised and delivered on virtual campus with digitised assets such as museums as a service.

Digital real-estate, currencies, and other assets in the metaverse will be commonly included in wills.

By 2030:
People will spend more physical conscious time in the metaverse than the real world and the financial value of the metaverse will start to challenge the financial value of physical world assets. People will commonly apply for jobs, earn a living, shop, meet friends and even get married in the metaverse.

The flatscreen, keyboard and a mouse will disappear and be replaced by wafer-like glasses and contact lenses for spatial collaboration across multi-disciplines. A new control interface will evolve.

Customer service will be delivered by digital humans for shopping and other activities and remote support with overlayed information in XR.

Synthetic data generated from simulated worlds will guide robots to problem solve and save humans from high-risk work.

Human thoughts will be able to be tracked, recorded, and influenced with XR and Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) giving rise to privacy focused regulation. Brain power will be used for decision making rather than for memorisation.

XR technologies will achieve horizontal convergence to drive greater interoperability and portability.