We’ve all heard of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VR immerses us completely into the digital world, while AR brings digital elements to our surroundings in real time. Immersive reality combines these two realms into one world—which is where the metaverse comes in.
The metaverse is an iteration of the internet that allows users to experience it like the real world. This is made possible with gadgets such as AR glasses and VR headsets. These devices, allows the metaverse to move “content from the internet into 3D immersive environments that can be shared and interacted with by multiple users (often taking physical form as avatars.)”
As the metaverse takes shape and begins to mirror and enhance all aspects of real life, industries are seeking ways to turn disruption into opportunity. Besides impacting consumer goods, entertainment and other sectors, the metaverse is also changing the face of the construction and real estate by transforming our understanding of co-development and co-design, spaces, businesses and societies.
"Web 3.0" is supporting a shift from “read and write” to “limitless creativity and participation”, making the metaverse a truly transformative lever. And it’s set to be a lucrative transformation for organizations that get on board. According to Bloomberg, the global revenue opportunity in the metaverse is set to reach as much as $800 billion by 2024 alone.
Innovative initiatives are booming across the metaverse and often involve players in the construction value chain. Examples include city co-development and co-design or enhanced city development. In addition, we observe a trend toward co-development and co-design based on building information modelling (BIM) and digital twin in a more immersive way, but also through the trade of virtual land and construction assets such as architectural designs and real houses using non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The areas where we see the most impact are:
NFTs to commercialize construction assets
The sector already takes advantage of NFTs to leverage both physical and digital assets, from selling architectural designs or real houses based on NFTs, to fragmenting ownership of real estate through smart contracts.
Immersive digital twins to optimize urban development
The metaverse will boost collaboration and move today’s digital twins from providing real-time virtual models of urban fabric to enabling immersive development and design that helps avoid costly planning errors and implementations and post-production adaptations.
Innovative co-design and co-develop
The future of business relations will include virtual collaboration, moving from today’s BIM collaboration and common data environments enhanced by mixed reality to an immersive experience from co-design to co-experience across the value chain to final transactions. Additionally, collaboration is integrated with blockchain-backed construction contract management for an additional level of security.
Virtual spaces to support users’ avatars and brands
The industry has an important role to play in the metaverse in terms of enabling users’ avatars lives and helping companies build their virtual presence. Construction players will assume a decisive role in moving from real buildings to enhanced virtual customer experiences empowered by virtual spaces, including a new understanding of offices, stores and living environment.
Bringing Revit, SketchUp, BIM360, and more into the metaverse
All of the standard work tools are just a few clicks away from the metaverse. Collaboration platforms have direct integrations to bring our work into shared spaces that can be accessed from anywhere. In addition, these platforms’ integrations like Autodesk Construction Cloud ensure that your work stays updated with the latest versions from either desktop or virtual reality. Changes will perpetually synchronize to immersive experiences with the newest changes from Autodesk tools.
Here’s just a few of our industry’s workflows that have now been completely changed using VR and AR in the metaverse:
Teams and clients can stay aligned from any time or place in the world using VR, leading to fewer meetings, less business travel, and faster approvals.
From site planning to architectural variations, we can rapidly experience a multitude of iterations with our hands, saving materials and getting to final versions quicker.
From immersive issue tracking to BIM/VDC inspecting & layer visibility settings, VR provides full life-cycle coordination.
While these opportunities are clearly very promising, they are also associated with various challenges, especially as many companies are exploring uncharted territories. The journey to success starts with having the right strategic direction, focus and priorities, followed by building and leveraging your own capabilities in combination with ecosystem partners. Finally, there has to be an appetite to jump into the unknown.