In October 2021, Facebook announced that they would change their name to Meta META,
And seemingly overnight, the idea of a Web3 revolution based on virtual reality technology, blockchain and non-fungible tokens – also known as the metaverse – came into vogue.
Yet the metaverse dates back 30 years, when author Neal Stephenson coined the term in his sci-fi novel “Snow Crash.” And in fact, the concept of a virtual world almost parallels our physical dimension sounds like science fiction. But the metaverse is here to stay and will affect every aspect of our lives, including transportation and car manufacturers.
The Metaverse is essentially a shared online space that allows users to create their own avatar and interact in a digital environment built through technological innovations such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Its currently envisioned goals include virtual business meetings, virtual events like concerts and conferences, and virtual retailers—but it’s much more than a virtual gaming world.
We’re just beginning to explore what the Metaverse has to offer, but several automakers have already jumped at the chance to contribute to this revolution. I believe their efforts will reap significant benefits as consumers become more familiar with the future-turned-present.
In this virtual reality world built on blockchain technology, every vehicle—real and virtual—and every one of its components would exist as NFTs, verified by the automaker and stored in the public ledger for all to see. . This will facilitate an automaker economy where secondary sales can last a lifetime.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will impact the industry in several ways, including:
Development and Testing: Automakers can test every step of the vehicle development process in the metaverse, dramatically reducing cost and risk and reviving concept cars that never materialized. Engineers would be able to respond in real time with changes to everything from structural body to aesthetics and ergonomics.
Problem diagnosis and feedback: With the sheer volume of transactions happening in the metaverse, automakers can take feedback from customers and send it to factories and dealers. Above all, they could see how customers react to vehicles that have not yet been brought to market. They could also run remote diagnostics on physical cars as well as virtual cars, again improving efficiency while reducing costs.
Customization: Cars will consist of thousands of parts, all representing a single NFT. Customers could start building a car in a virtual world almost like building blocks, going beyond customizing paint and burned-in coatings. They will be able to add the layers to the vehicle via a software-based car configurator, but not the actual build from the production line.
Gamification: Automakers would find it easier to gamify end-to-end race-to-retail experiences where users build a vehicle in a car configurator and then take it to the track. They would sell entire cars or car parts that customers can build in the metaverse and use to compete globally with other players.
Dealership and Delivery: With a customer’s test drive effectively taking place in the comfort of their own home, automakers can use Metaverse as a first-mover option. The car could be sold in metaverse and then physically delivered to a customer’s driveway.
Compliance and innovation: By entering the metaverse of a public blockchain and using the identity layer to verify people and assets in a trusted ecosystem, the gap between the Web2 (the current Internet) and The Web3 (blockchain-based and decentralized) that traditionally has been back the world’s largest companies from using blockchain can be bridged.
Basically web2 surfs the web. It uses centralized systems like a company-controlled top-level domain. There is no privacy because to use the products your data is mined and sold. Web3 surfs the web. You have nodes run by thousands of people, so it’s more secure and less centralized. Your data belongs to you. Your privacy is yours with innovations like Zero Knowledge Proof.
It’s a bit surreal, but exciting. And none of this can be reduced to just playing with cars in a game world. So, as fanciful as it may seem at first, at least to the skeptics, there’s no better time than the present for automakers to enter the race.
Lone Fønss Schrøder is CEO of Concordium, a blockchain company, and Vice President of Volvo Cars.