Metaverse Takes a Detour to Auto Industry, Leaving Big Tech Behind

New avenues open up as metaverse meets automobiles
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Disney has added to the wave of tech industry layoffs by cutting its 50-person metaverse team as part of a company restructuring effort, which will result in 7,000 job cuts in the coming months. This move follows Meta’s announcement of 10,000 job cuts in its Metaverse division after suffering a $13.7 billion loss in 2022. Additionally, Microsoft shut down its industrial metaverse team resulting in 100 layoffs, while Apple has put its plans for augmented reality glasses on hold.

Despite waning interest from major tech industry players, the metaverse is finding new and exciting opportunities in unexpected places like the automobile sector which is taking steps towards incorporating the metaverse into their industries, signalling a new era of innovation and creativity.

The Rise of the Automotive Metaverse

The global market for automotive products within the metaverse is anticipated to exceed $116.5 billion by 2030, with a compounded annual growth rate of more than 41.46%.

Pandemic-related disruptions in the supply chain have made it difficult for prospective buyers to find their desired vehicles. As a solution to this problem, car manufacturers are adopting immersive solutions like AR and 3-D visuals to assist customers in finding their dream cars.

Additionally, some companies are establishing virtual worlds, such as Acura’s virtual showroom in Decentraland and Skoda’s Skodaverse, to captivate their target audience by providing interactive experiences, like receiving non-fungible tokens of cars.

Read more: Meta’s Dreams Have Become A Metaverse Nightmare

The attempt to connect virtual and physical worlds is expected to become more immersive with advancements in extended reality (XR) technology and haptic devices that simulate touch. This could allow consumers to have a highly realistic experience with virtual replicas of vehicles, including opening doors, feeling seats, and accelerating. Initially, these virtual experiences may be limited to dealerships and trade shows because of the high cost of the required devices. However, as consumers increasingly adopt XR devices, such experiences may become more readily available at home.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can create unique customer experiences like virtual launch events or car races. Echoing along similar lines, Amit Lakhotia, founder and CEO of auto tech brand Park+, shared his views with AIM and said, “The metaverse presents opportunities for auto OEMs to engage with customers through immersive experiences such as virtual test drives and modifications”. He added that it also enables them to set up virtual showrooms and dealerships to display vehicles, reducing the need for physical assets. Additionally, connecting with customers directly through the metaverse may help reduce marketing and advertising costs.

“Although Metaverse is sort of stagnated, it will eventually reach its full potential. However, customer experience is one area that could benefit from the metaverse, allowing people to explore products virtually without having to visit a physical store,” Padmashree Shagrithaya, Executive Vice President and MD – Insights and Data GBL, at Capgemini, told AIM.

Some car manufacturers are using metaverse tools to create driver assistance applications. Mercedes-Benz offers heads-up-display technology that shows information on the car’s windshield. Holoride is also creating immersive entertainment packages for passengers, including a VR headset and game that matches the motion of the vehicle. Audi customers can currently access this package.

Digital Twins: The New Car Factories

OEMs are already using digital twins of factories. Several leading car companies including BMW, Mercedes Benz, Geely Lotus, Jaguar Land Rover, Rimac, and BYD at the NVIDIA GTC conference announced work on digital twins programs to help lower these costs.

Although digital twins are still in their early stages of development, they have been previously used for robot simulations in specialised tools. 

Mercedes has started using Nvidia’s Omniverse Enterprise software platform to design, plan and optimise its factories. The platform will be used specifically to manufacture its new electric vehicle platform at its plant in Rastatt, Germany. 

With Omniverse, Mercedes can build a digital twin of the factory and simulate new production processes without disrupting existing vehicle production. This will enable Mercedes to quickly react to supply chain disruptions and reconfigure the assembly line as needed. Nvidia has also been working with Mercedes to test out autonomous vehicle technology in simulation. Automakers can use Drive SIM, NVIDIA’s simulation platform, to collaborate on vehicle design in virtual reality.

However, it is too early to tell if these big bets on the automobile metaverse are going to be a success as there comes its fair share of disadvantages like expensive hardware, privacy and ecological concerns, among others. Only time will tell whether the industry can navigate these challenges or give up like the rest. 

Rest more: Why the Old-School Gaming Industry is Averse to the Metaverse

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Shritama Saha
Shritama is a technology journalist who is keen to learn about AI and analytics play. A graduate in mass communication, she is passionate to explore the influence of data science on fashion, drug development, films, and art.

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