“A team at Orange has been dedicated to the metaverse for more than five years”

Le Journal du Net is a partner in the Mastercard Innovation Forum 2022, scheduled for December 8 in Paris. On this occasion, Karine Dussert-Sarthe, Executive Vice-President at Orange, will explain the challenges that the metaverse represents for the group.

Karine Dussert-Sarthe, Executive Vice President at Orange. © Orange

JDN. You will be speaking on December 8 during a round table discussion entitled “Metaverse, fad or real opportunity for brands?”. You position yourself in favor of technology. How does the metaverse represent a real opportunity for Orange?

Karine Dussert-Sarthe. At Orange, we believe that the metaverse is not just a fad, but a revolution as important as the use of video on mobile. It is a serious use that brings together an important ecosystem, but everything still needs to be invented to give it shape. Because there is not just one metaverse, the latter is pluriform. It is therefore the right time to address the topic and understand how best to meet consumer expectations. Orange is working on the subject, especially with the GSMA, to reflect on the possibilities and to assert itself as an important player in this field on the world stage.

What are the main challenges of the metaverse for the group?

There are two main axes that Orange must work on. The first, of course, concerns the network. As an operator, Orange must offer access to this immersive technology, the networks must therefore be sized for the uses of the metaverse. This means having good traffic capacity and low latency. We have seen it with augmented reality, if there is a delay between movement and adaptation of the virtual environment, the experience does not work (some users feel nauseous, editor’s note). Two types of connectivity will be the pillars of the metaverse: fiber at home and 5G on the go. According to our assumptions, the virtual world will overlap the real world. For example, while walking in the city, a user will be able to see virtual elements appear thanks to objects such as contact lenses, but no longer via smartphone. We are working with several market players, mainly Americans, because they are more advanced in the subject, to make the networks adaptable to future customer needs.

As for the other axis…

Everything needs to be invented in the metaverse. Our challenge is therefore, I repeat, to understand what consumers want. We conducted a survey with our customers, which I will be able to give some figures on during the conference. I can already tell you that 40% of customers believe that the metaverse will be essential in their lives by 2030. Generation Z, fans of video games, will strongly occupy the terrain of the metaverse for more than a third. That’s a significant number, so we have to look at their experiences in the metaverse. This technology will help to strengthen the connections between the brand and the consumers. We already have some bricks, like chatbots, the next step will be to translate them into the metaverse.

What resources has Orange invested in the metaverse to meet these challenges?

A team has been dedicated to this topic for more than five years now, with experts studying future applications and their impact on the network. We also invested in early 2021 in an American fund specializing in virtual reality, which gives us access to immersive start-ups that are accelerated there. We also have a first immersive experience available since February 2022. This is a projection showing Notre-Dame Cathedral for 45 minutes, from its construction to the fire. Visitors can move themselves around the 200 square meters of the projection space at La Défense, see the other participants around them while observing the projection. This experience is now possible by having participants wear a backpack that operates data processing in edge computing. The challenge tomorrow will be to perform this operation in micro data centers. We are working to move forward and offer a new experience during the 2024 Olympics.

Karine Dussert-Sarthe is an HEC graduate and is executive vice president at Orange and leads the group’s product marketing, design and open innovation teams. She was appointed in September 2019 after holding leadership positions at various companies including Telstra, SFR, Match Group and Orange France. Within Orange Innovation, Karine Dussert-Sarthe and her teams work actively for the 26 countries in the Orange group on tomorrow’s products and services. In particular, his team is focused on future applications around the immersive and metaverse, made possible by 5G connectivity and fiber, but also on the new generation of home services. Karine Dussert-Sarthe is also responsible for open innovation and acceleration of start-ups within the Orange Group.

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