Health, culture, trade … Metaverset, the eldorado for VR and AR startups?

Does the meta-verse, this immersive virtual world that throws avatars into parallel universes, bring the virtual reality sector and augmented reality into a new dimension? In addition to video games, this concept of science fiction on digital platforms opens up a wide field of possibilities that will affect work, commerce, music, television, culture and even health in the future.

Currently driven by projects from Anglo-Saxon giants like Meta (ex-Facebook), Microsoft, Apple, this budding industry provides start-ups specializing in AR / VR technologies that sometimes struggle to keep their promises, glimpses of opportunities in terms of communication and marketing, creation and recruitment of new customers.

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the shift to this immersive internet, and the metaverse effect is encouraging reflection and new projects.

$ 1.5 trillion in revenue by 2030

What is being done today for education or industrial maintenance will become the norm. We want to live more and more with our mobile phones and augmented reality applications or with helmets and glasses that allow us to see other things , ”Alexandre Michelin analyzed during the first Knowledge Immersive Forum (KIF), last September in Metz. ” France has a great tradition of research. There are startups today that have the intelligence and know-how. »

According to a KIF study conducted by Ernst and Young, this new global Internet is credited with $ 1.5 trillion in revenue by 2030.

A windfall that Rennes startup Simango would like to take advantage of, which with its Learning Metasystem project naturally projects itself towards tomorrow’s virtual hospital. With a turnover of one million euros in 2021 and growth multiplied by five in one year, the start-up specializing in immersive health training modules, in virtual and augmented reality, sets itself a period of 3 years to achieve a complete experience based on the principles of the meta-verse .

Simango will certify its blockchain training

With 10,000 people trained since 2018, on mobile or via a virtual reality headset, in 250 healthcare institutions, Simango has just announced in mid-January the opening of a specific metaverse R&D department.

The current teams (30 people) will work with the employees recruited to several new positions (project manager, architect, graphic designer, educational engineers, etc.).

This project requires the addition of technological bricks and new skills. From March 2022, the team will have started its first metaverse projects: avatars, access conditions to the virtual hospital, data storage, digital badges ”. explains Vincent-Dozhwal Bagot, president and founder of Simango.

The first Learning Metasystem services will arrive at the start of the school year in September 2022 and will lay the foundation for this new form of learning, for which the need is enormous. In the meta-verse, we will connect to other things, and the virtual hospital will integrate partners, on therapeutic training for example.»

To develop its metaverse, which will eventually certify blockchain training (as NFTs), Simango plans to close a € 3.5 million Series A in October, almost three years after raising € 1.2 million from the funds West Web Valley and Breizh Up.

According to KIF, metavers were to become widespread over the next five years. The retail sector is no exception to this trend.

Maison Berger adapts the meta-verse to retail via Instagram

Last December, Maison Berger, a subsidiary of the Emosia group (100 million euros in turnover, of which 50% is exported), tested its first live shopping in the metaverse.

Designed by Wilkins Avenue AR Studio, which specializes in augmented reality experiences for the retail and luxury sectors, this happening, unveiled for the inauguration of a store in the Marais in Paris, superimposed interactive 3D content on the physical world during one live on Instagram.

Via their avatar, customers were projected into the store’s universe, which was decorated for Christmas and was able to respond to virtual animations that revealed (by suggesting them) the scent of Berger lamps.

Augmented reality is a great way to awaken dreams through technology and to project customers into our olfactory universe. A brand like Maison Berger must combine online sales and physical experience “says Guillaume Rolland, Innovation Director at Maison Berger Paris, and former founder of the Nantes startup Sensorwake (olfactory awakening), acquired in 2019 by Emosia.

The result of this live shopping, offered in an easy way to access without downloading an application or VR headset, created interactivity and engagement throughout live with more than 950 comments in 15 minutes. »

From February 2022, the experience will be expanded in the store with the introduction of “augmented POS”, through which the consumer will be able to relive some of the animations using an Instagram filter and share them on social networks.

The Emosia group, which has 7,000 outlets including 80 stores in 50 countries, is investing in the digital acceleration of the brand to create an omnichannel “customer journey”.

Strategic investments in media and culture

This ambition also guides media brands and cultural venues. ” The Metaverse concept is a great opportunity for XR projects in virtual and augmented reality », Estimates Alexandre Roux, Distribution Manager at Lucid Realities and Permanent Partner of France TV Story Lab at France Télévisions.

The topic raises all sorts of thoughts, among producers, TV companies and even at professional events. Switching online due to the pandemic, the American festival Sundance itself inaugurated its version in the meta-verse last January. »

It was in these hybrid environments, where festival goers wandered around their avatars in virtual spaces, that the latest production of Lucid Realities was presented, Seven grams, selected in the New Frontier category. Dedicated to the conditions of extraction of rare minerals used in laptops, this augmented reality experience performed by journalist Karim Ben Khelifa, who had imagined the museum project in virtual reality The enemy in 2017, is available in stores as an app.

The biggest challenge for writers and creators is how to produce works that fit the metaverse and how they will be communicated in this environment. So far, there is little impact on the development of a company like Lucid Realities, but we are exploring how we can best meet the demand from TV companies and museums. The metaverse version of a work like The Enemy requires technological adaptation and significant investment. »

To fund their innovations, audiovisual creators can turn to the CNC’s Digital Experiment Fund. With a budget of 3.5 million euros, in 2020 it supported 85 projects based on an interactive and / or immersive creation process (virtual, augmented, mixed reality, interactive narratives).

As regards museums, the Banque des Territoires has enabled the Grand Palais, under the Investment for the Future program, to set up its subsidiary Grand Palais Immersif, also financed by Vinci Immobilier.

Strategic investments

The Caisse des Dépôts subsidiary has also taken a stake in Expéditions Spectacles for its concept of naturalistic, immersive and sensuous exhibitions, Sensory odysseylaunched in September 2021 with the Statens Naturhistoriske Museum.

“In various areas, there is already economic activity around the metaverse,” confirmed Alexandre Michelin during KIF. “Entrepreneurs are supported by strategic investments that will bear fruit in the coming years. »