An employee of an exhibitor (right) tells a visitor about metaverse-related products at the third China International Cultural Tourism Fair in Jinan, Shandong province, on Sept 15. (HAO XINCHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Domestic and foreign firms explore industrial applications in many fields
Discussion of the tech buzzword "metaverse" has been going on for some time, with the focus chiefly on its application in virtual games, online retail and social media. But now, the industrial metaverse has become the latest talk of the town, as it is seen as one of the most promising ways to revolutionize manufacturing in the years to come, experts said.
The trend bears particular importance as countries around the world are reemphasizing their ambitions to upgrade manufacturing — pillars of a nation's economic clout. And the potential of metaverse in accelerating industrial upgrade is attracting companies to establish a beachhead in the new technological frontier, they added.
Industrial metaverse loosely refers to a virtual world where real machines and factories, buildings, transportation, grids, and other industrial objects and systems are mirrored digitally with technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, they said.
Li Bohu, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said industrial metaverse is now one of the most oft-heard technological themes, as it has become a new carrier for the integration of digital economy and real economy.
"The industrial application of metaverse can create a new mode of smart manufacturing that features interaction between virtual and real worlds, enhances industrial value, and constructs a new ecology of industrial digitalization," Li said.
Yu Jianing, co-author of the book The Rise of the Metaverse and principal of Huobi University, an educational and research institution focusing on technologies such as blockchain, said, "The biggest potential for the metaverse lies in its industrial use."
Software developers, for instance, will simulate every aspect of manufacturing operations in a digital twin factory, a key form of the industrial metaverse, where engineers and designers worldwide can collaborate in real time, said Yu.
By simulating the feasibility of tasks in the industrial metaverse, problems can be identified, analyzed and quickly resolved, and then operating costs can be greatly reduced and efficiency boosted when this is implemented in reality, Yu added.
His views were echoed by Hu Houkun, the rotating chairman of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, who said that compared with consumer-oriented applications, metaverse has larger value in its industrial use.