With more un-contact activities taking place due to COVID-19, we now have Metaverse industry as an arising blue ocean. Metaverse refers to an online virtual world and is a combined word made up of ‘Universe’ and 'Meta,' which means 'artificial/abstract.' The MZ Generation (Millennials born in the early 1980s~early 2000s and the Z Generation born in the mid-1990s~early 2000s) actively makes use of this Metaverse.
The concept of Metaverse first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash.’ This novel is about a few ‘talented people’ establishing a virtual world. In other words, Metaverse is a platform that allows all everyday life activities like work, play, shopping, conversation, etc. in the 3D virtual space. As scientific technology improves daily just like AR and VR, the virtual world has gotten a lot more elaborate.
The American game company Roblox is leading the way in Metaverse. In the Roblox game platform, whose concept revolves around a virtual world, users can chat or call through personal avatars shaped like Lego. A user can even make his/her own game. The daily user activation around the end of last year amounted to 32.6 million while the games created within Roblox amounted to around 50 million; it is indeed a huge hit. Major users are the American Z Generation (born in the mid-1990s~early 2000s), and the industry is looking great ahead. Roblox became a company with the market capitalization of 45.2 billion dollars (approximately 51.32 trillion KRW) the moment it went public on NYSE. The success of this day reflects the anticipation towards the Metaverse industry.
Korea’s leading Metaverse service is 'Zepeto,' operated by Naver Z, Naver’s subsidiary. Zepeto creates an avatar using the AI face-recognition technology. The avatar, created based on an actual photo, makes things much more interesting as it resembles your actual face. You can wander around all the corners in the Zepeto World with this alter ego and enjoy many activities like ‘taking photos,’ ‘recording videos,’ and ‘playing games.’ So far, more than 200 million people have joined Zepeto. 46 million people joined Blackpink’s avatar fan signing event that took place last September, and people hung around wearing Gucci in the gardens in ‘Gucci Villa,’ which was a collaboration creation with the fashion brand Gucci. It’s become a virtual playground for the MZ Generation.
The global market research business Strategy Analytics expected the global Metaverse market to be as big as about 315 trillion KRW by 2025. It is expected to grow more than 6 times than now. And this craze will be led by the MZ Generation.
Metaverse isn’t just for games. There’s an infinite possibility for it to mix with our everyday lives. American hip hop artist Travis Scott held a concert in April on ‘Fortnite.’ Fortnite, created by the American company Epic Games, is enjoyed by 350 million people around the world. It’s made up of ‘Battel Royale’ for gun fight games and ‘Party Royale,’ a place for hanging out. Since COVID-19, this Party Royale has become a Metaverse playground. On the day of the concert, Scott’s huge avatar held a show for 10 minutes, 5 times each. 12.3 million people who were online with him danced and flew around in the game.
Metaverse also has shown great educational endeavors. In April, a high school in Quebec, Canada replaced its field trip with Metaverse. When their field trip to Greece got cancelled due to COVID-19, students all went on the action game ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’ and explored the ancient Greece. This game is famous for bringing ancient Greece onto the screen realistically.
There’s also a noticeable attempt by a Korean educational institution at implementing Metaverse. Soonchunhyang University, with SKT, held a ‘Metaverse matriculation ceremony.’ A virtual space that brought the actual school campus onto the computer screen was realized. Here, the Soonchunhyang University freshmen listened to the dean’s speech and the student representative’s admission oath. There was also a platform for the freshmen avatars to introduce themselves. The freshmen participated in the matriculation ceremony with a VR headset included in their ‘Welcome Box,’ which they received from the school. It was a special experience where reality and virtual reality crossed.
From now on, Metaverse will change the office atmosphere as well; they will become more efficient and convenient. Hyundai Motors is actively implementing Metaverse in their work. A few years ago, designers from America, Germany, India, etc. had to gather in Korea for a new automobile design’s showing. The designers had to cut out an automobile model or make a new, large size model in the meeting. Each model amounted to around 100 million KRW as the cost was huge.
Now things are different. Hyundai Motors’ designers wear VR headsets and attend the meeting in their respective countries. They can connect to the ‘Hyundai Car VR Development Space’ from each of their meeting rooms when they go to work and will see a new model before their eyes. They are also able to meet their colleagues in different continents. With a swish of a hand, the car changes color. With another move, the color and material of the headlamp and dashboard are changed. The background of the car can be changed at will, to a city, seashore, off road, etc.
This virtual meeting has become available because Hyundai Motors invested 15 billion won in their ’Virtual Development Process,’ which they introduced in March 2019. The innovative design of Hyundai Motors’ hydrogen large truck concept car 'Neptune' was created through this very system.
Metaverse is creating a lively and interesting virtual world that cannot compare to video meetings. It’s an industry that is highly likely to not only expand to games but also to our everyday lives like shopping and education. It won’t be too long until Metaverse is established as the core technology at your workplace. There could even be a Metaverse square, where people around the world get together for discussions and parties. This is why there’s so much anticipation for Metaverse doing well in the future, which can change the spaces of our lives, like schools and workplaces.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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