What is the Industrial Metaverse?

At the time of writing, everyone is talking about the metaverse, but not the industrial metaverse.

But what is it supposed to be anyway? Don’t we have enough fancy buzzwords like Industry 4.0 or IIoT for the digital transformation of the industrial sector?

In my opinion, however, the industrial metaverse is a very, very exciting topic and I want to show you why.

The Metaverse

But before we come to the Industrial Metaverse, we should first briefly discuss what the Metaverse is in the first place. I have also written a longer article on this.

The name Metaverse consists of two words. Meta, meaning “beyond” and verse for universe. The term describes the concept of a possible internet future. Consisting of virtual 3D spaces that also merge with reality.

When we talk about the metaverse today, it’s primarily in the consumer space. Leading companies are Meta ex Facebook.

However, my prediction is that the industrial metaverse will be the even bigger revolution.

Industrie 4.0, IIoT and now the Industrial Metaverse?

But let’s first start with a rough overview of where we are today. I already mentioned Industry 4.0 and IIoT at the beginning.

When the term Industrie 4.0 was introduced by the German government agency BMBF in 2011, the idea was very unique. It refers to the fourth industrial revolution after the invention of the steam engine (first), mass production (second) and computer automation (third).

Industrie 4.0
Industrie 4.0

Subsequently, initiatives also emerged in many other countries, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in the USA in 2014, with a strong focus on cloud connectivity/functionality.

IIoT Architecture
IIoT Architecture

No matter which initiative one has now looked at, most of them have the following in common. They refer to the intelligent networking of machines and processes in industry with the help of information and communication technology.

But not as an end in itself, but to guarantee the next generation of efficiency improvement. Examples include better utilization of equipment or automation of manual operations.

What these initiatives also have in common is that they are still rather in their infancy in terms of maturity. At least in terms of widespread adoption in companies.

So why start the next hype now?

The Industrial Metaverse – Examples

Well, if you transfer the concepts of the metaverse to the industrial sector, suddenly some things fall into place quite wonderfully.

Digital Twins

Want an example? Think Digital Twins.

Today, digital twins in the context of Industrie 4.0/IIoT often refer to individual products. Typically to those of the manufacturer. Furthermore, they usually only address a certain stage in the life cycle of the product, such as design.

In the metaverse, however, the virtual world merges with the physical one. So in the industrial metaverse, for example, as a production manager, I want to see my entire factory in 3D in real time.

I can take a look at the OEE of any machine, as I virtually walk by.

Furthermore, I want to walk through the night shift from my beach vacation and see that there is a screw on the floor in front of me.

Okay, maybe I’d rather not, but I think you get the concept.

Product Development Process

Another example is the entire product development process. It could be on the verge of fundamental change.

Today, it takes many years from the idea to the product in the industrial environment. 8 years is not uncommon. Now we live in times when the fast eat the big. And the Industrial Metaverse will speed this up. With light speed.

Why?
Today, sales, product management, R&D and production are often silos. Let’s be honest about that.

Ideally, one would like to understand the customer holistically and offer the holistically optimal solution (for both sides).

But sales today often still means going door to door and spending a lot of time in the car. Even if the global Corona pandemic has changed things.

The Industrial Metaverse drastically reduces this effort and enables companies to bring interdisciplinary teams directly to the customer virtually and economically. Understanding will lead to much shorter development times and better products.

But does this all not sound like a nightmare? Especially for all cybersecurity specialists?

Technical Considerations

Well, trust is the basis for everything in the industrial metaverse. And that’s also one of the big differences compared to the consumer metaverse.

In the industrial metaverse, intellectual property is an important variable. In this article, I show what a hypermodern response to this challenge might look like. Keyword Data Confidence Fabrics.

Of course, this is only one basic building block of many. Technically, we also face formidable hurdles that may even require breakthroughs in fundamental physics. More on these challenges here.

The challenges run through the entire spectrum. From unique identification mechanisms and ubiquitous sensors to portable supercomputers (keyword ubiquitous computing) and the appropriate end devices.

Closing words

This article is only intended to provide some ideas for a possible industrial metaverse. I would be very interested in your opinion? Do you think along the same lines?

No? Let me know here in the comments or on Twitter.

In an upcoming article, I would like to take a closer look at the gigantic potential of the Industrial Metaverse in the context of simulation. Especially in an increasingly complex production environment.

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* This link to Amazon is an affiliate link. By purchasing through this link you support my work on Homo Digitalis. This has no effect on the price.

Industrie 4.0 Image Source: wikimedia, Christoph Roser, CC BY-SA 4.0

IIot Image Source: wikimedia, Paul McLaughlin, Rohan McAdam, CC BY-SA 4.0

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