Recent re-naming of Facebook to Meta along with announcement by Mark Zuckerberg about building a metaverse in October 2021 blasted a lot of talks about it. Many of us hear about this new buzzword but do not understand yet how it can be used and believe that this is another toy for zoomers.

Surprisingly a metaverse can find more applications in our daily work activities rather than in gaming and entertainment. But before we move further let’s define the term itself. What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is defined as a three-dimensional internet powered by virtual reality and augmented reality. It is persistent (exists regardless of the user’s presence), real-time (users can experience live events), infinite (supports unlimited concurrent users and VR worlds), self-sustaining (users can work for and pay for things in the metaverse), and interoperable (there’s only one metaverse and everything is integrated within it).

Today we already have several existing projects which are building a metaverse. The largest ones are — Decentraland (www.decentraland.org) and Sandbox (www.sandbox.game/en/). These examples show that a metaverse can be not only an online gaming platform but e-commerce, an NFT marketplace, art galleries, a place for virtual events, concerts, and you name it.

However, metaverse can find a lot of applications in business and our daily job activities. I would like to share a few of them in the oil & gas sector.

New Hire Onboarding

If you are an office worker in the large global company, it will be nice to get around global offices, meet new colleagues in different facilities, manufacturing halls and operation sites. Just image that you are driller, and you are on the virtual drill platform with your new co-worker from day one. The onboarding process will be fast as never before and efficient. You can walk on digital twin of drill ship, refinery factory by using VR and AR technology, or simply put, entering a metaverse.

HSE Safety Training

To prevent accidents, companies spend huge resources (money and time) to train their personnel. By reading a safety instruction how to escape from a drill rig on fire, I don’t think you will get enough skills. To get some practice, training centers build specified safety training apparatus, for example, HUET training (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) for offshore rig personnel.

The metaverse can be used for all these HSE trainings as well. Personnel will be trained in a virtual twin of the real facility at any time and from any place.

Professional Learning

The metaverse gives us the opportunity to learn and deeply understand difficult processes and facilities (like manufacturing, factories, machinery) by being inside them and walking through these 3D objects. The 3D world is what we understand much easier rather than flat presentation slides and drawings.

Monitoring and Maintenance

A synergy between the industrial internet of things (IIoT), machine learning (ML) together with AR/VR makes the daily operation and monitoring process of facilities and manufacturing easy and efficient. For human beings it is much convenient to just go and inspect the failure of the digital twin in the 3D world rather than watch a comprehensive dashboard.

Emotional part

Today requirement of mask-wearing to suppress a COVID-19 virus spreading also takes away an emotional part of human interaction. We don’t see our faces, gesture, smiles, and facial impression which helps us to easily understand behavior in comparison with chat and voice calls.

Using your avatar during virtual meetups and social gatherings in metaverse brings online interaction between people to another quality level. People will interact with each other as a normal offline gathering which is a natural way for a human being. We can express our emotions and understand behavior from colleagues much faster and in the right way.

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Although it seems like science fiction, humans are making leap steps in many key technologies which allow building metaverses like computer graphics, machine learning, distributed ledgers, and cryptography. There is still a lot of work ahead. Technology will continue to evolve to allow a fast and reliable user experience when you walk through the metaverse.

Petroleum Engineer, Blockchain enthusiast | twitter: @galimzyanoff