Tibor Merey and colleagues at Boston Consulting Group detail the applications, layers, infrastructure and benefits of the industrial metaverse and how it can turn data into real value.
The metaverse will transform many aspects of the human experience but remains an unreal concept for many and industrial companies are curious to know what’s in store for them.
“Just like the Metaverse, the Industrial Metaverse enables us to take advantage of the benefits a virtual representation of our physical world brings,” Merey says. “While detailed simulations have been around for a while, one of the core properties of the Industrial Metaverse lies in its overarching connectivity. Real-time and real-world data from various sources now enables the creation of a central and accurate visual representation of the physical world, closing the simulation-to-reality gap.”
By enabling an even more sophisticated software-driven development cycle, the Industrial Metaverse is the consequent continuation of a trend that has been around in industry for decades. Based on the underlying industrial toolchain, test-driven development will become an even bigger part of tomorrow’s development processes, thus making it easier to detect problems upstream.
The resulting savings in time, money and effort in combination with previously unseen opportunities offered by creating an advanced real-time simulation of an entire industrial environment are at the core of the hype around the Industrial Metaverse.
Industrial Metaverse Use Cases and Benefits
The use cases of the Industrial Metaverse can be divided into three archetypes: improve design, production, and operational effectiveness.
The Industrial Metaverse enables a collaborative design lifecycle, thus enabling designers to create or view assets completely in 3D or Virtual Reality (VR). One example of this is the VR design process at Volkswagen’s luxury brand Bugatti. According to Bugatti’s chief designer Achim Anscheidt, employing VR technology in the design process helped them to reduce the development time by over 20% compared to five years ago.
Enhance customer experience and support
While websites and car specifications provide comprehensive information about a vehicle, a photo-realistic visualisation can create an emotional connection with the vehicle. BMW partnered up with the EPIC Games to create the BMW Emotional Virtual Experience. Today, vehicles can be visualised down to the last detail for customers to experience on screens and in VR.
Up-skill employees and improve the work environment
In collaboration with Lufthansa, the Mixed Reality studio NMY created a virtual aviation training software which is used to train 20,000 flight attendants annually. The software has been certified by the German Aviation Authority and is now a mandatory part of Lufthansa’s flight attendant training. The resulting cost savings due to a reduced need for physical training environments and instructors are likely to be in the millions each year.
Components of the Industrial Metaverse
Oftentimes, innovation managers already have a good idea for where the Industrial Metaverse could add value to the company. But how does one get there and which layers of the Metaverse will need to be considered?
We identified four layers of the Industrial Metaverse. Firstly, the Core Transaction Layer builds the infrastructural backbone. This layer generates and transports the input necessary to build an accurate representation of what happens in the real world. This underlying infrastructure is not meant to be replaced, but much rather will its specialised components become connected in an overarching way to form the basis for the Industrial Metaverse.
Secondly, the Data & Integration Layer stores data and maintains relationships across data sources to ensure domain interoperability, thereby ensuring real-time connectivity between all relevant components and avoiding siloed data streams.
Thirdly, the Visualisation & Intelligence Layer consists of smart algorithms and software to create virtual 3D environments. This serves as a basis for sophisticated simulations of processes and products.
Lastly, the Interaction & Experience layer will enable users to interact with the generated content through traditional interfaces such as screens and computer mice, but also via immersive technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality.
A Holistic Approach to the Industrial Metaverse
The components from the Industrial Metaverse are not new, but recent developments in connectivity, computing power, interoperability, multi-tenancy and the quality of real-time physical simulations make it possible to turn data into more value than ever before.
We understand the Industrial Metaverse not as something that will replace the way industrial environments operate. Much rather, it will augment the operations as a powerful simulation tool, with the crucial overarching connectivity requiring a holistic strategic approach. Similarly, like engineers can now follow a ‘digital original first, physical twin second’ approach, executives need to reengineer entire processes and organisations in an Industrial Metaverse first manner.”
Note: Additional contributions from Tilman Buchner, Jan Ladleif, Richard Maue, Leon Pietschmann, and Filip Sokolowski at Boston Consulting Group.