Why the Industrial Metaverse is not the Entertainment Metaverse

Unlike the Entertainment Metaverse, the Industrial Metaverse doesn't seek to provide escape from the real world, but to make the real world better.
Written by
Karl Freund
Published on
October 18, 2022

Sometimes you come across an article that you wished you’d written yourself. Here’s one from Karl Freund, Founder of Cambrian-AI Research, published in Forbes magazine Oct 7, 2022. We here at Nextspace would love to have written it.

Our podcast is called The Industrial Metaverse, so it's natural that we'd get sent many links to the news that Decentraland only has 38 active daily users. However, what Karl Freund captures, is that the Industrial Metaverse marches to a different beat than the Entertainment Metaverse.

Karl labels the Industrial Metaverse as

the useful metaverse … not a toy [but one representing] the real world as it exists, or as it will become.

Unlike the Entertainment Metaverse, the digital twins that collectively form the Industrial Metaverse are created by and for engineers, manufacturers, asset managers, Boards, and Governments. Their common goal is to eliminate unnecessary waste with fewer real world costly mistakes and a massive saving in unproductive time.

The Industrial Metaverse does not seek to provide escape from the real world, but to make the real world better. It employs computing power and digital visualization to give users “superpowers”. 

Karl Freund references NVIDIA Vice President, Omniverse & Simulation Technology Rev Lebaredian's reference to the “superpowers” of digital twins — something Rev discussed with Nextspace Founder & CEO Mark Thomas in Episode 6 of The Industrial Metaverse. These include the ability to see inside walls and underground. The ability to fly through a large-scale facility, or “teleport” somewhere else in the world. To be in two places at once. And with the connection of AI, to see multiple potential futures. 

The entertainment metaverse vs the industrial metaverse

So what’s at the heart of the difference between the creative and the industrial?


Real-world geometry, real-world monitoring, real-world traceability. 

Real-world —literally meaning information from real life—but importantly also meaning the ability to deal with real-world behaviour. Humanity and history. Incomplete information, paper-based information, 2D information inside a 3D model. To bring together data held across and sometimes hostage by multiple organizations. To bring different file formats that were never designed to talk to each other into a common data model. Interoperability.

This does conflict with the Entertainment Metaverse's deliberate move away from real-world rules. For good reasons - efficiency of production and, well, because it's fun. In a movie scene, a car might get “copied” multiple times to create the impression of a busy street or a traffic jam. In the Industrial Metaverse, each car is unique. In a movie scene you want people to fly. Sometimes fly through epic explosions unharmed. In the real world, well, that's just not a thing that happens.

In the real world each car has a different engine that has been serviced a different number of times with different issues addressed and different parts replaced. It has travelled different miles, down different roads, with different tires and different levels of tread remaining. In industry, these unique differences matter. 

It’s why the Industrial Metaverse is underpinned by a system of globally unique identifiers, or “GUIDs” — something deliberately removed from the Entertainment Metaverse. 

Another pillar of the Industrial Metaverse relates to interrelated functionality. Take the example of a valve in any process plant. A unique valve that will be connected upstream to a particular tank, and downstream to a particular pipe. Liquid or gas flows from the tank through the valve to the pipe, or not depending on the state of the valve. These three "things" are connected assets. Moreover, turning this one valve off or on may affect multiple specific other assets beyond the two immediately connected to it. These relationships need to be converted into data so that accurate computation and simulation can occur. Combined, this framework of relationships form an “ontology”, a universal network of relationships,  enabling cause and effect simulation at scale.

The Industrial Metaverse uses the benefits of virtual modelling to help us understand how increasingly complex assets and systems actually work or may work under certain conditions. To optimize supply chains. To predict failure before it occurs and have the right parts on hand without last minute cost premiums. To remove duplication of repair work by geo-locating and combining discrete workorders. To ensure different teams have 24/7 access to the information they need to avoid in-field miscommunication and unnecessary rework. To have a global specialist join a repair team half a world away.

Unlike the Entertainment Metaverse, this virtual representation is based in reality and science - geography, time, aerodynamics, etc. 

Where the Entertainment Metaverse is made fun through the absence of gravity, the Industrial Metaverse is useful because of gravity.

Rather than inventing the unreal -

… people around the world are doing real work in the un-real world. While the creative sector provided the initial impetus for virtual worlds using animation, industrial concerns are realizing tremendous benefits from the engineering simulation available on the NVIDIA Omniverse … being able to assess different possible futures becomes not only possible, it will become main-stream.

Karl Freund – NVIDIA Omniverse: The Useful Metaverse

Where the measures of the Entertainment Metaverse are the number of eyeballs and wallets, the measure of the Industrial Metaverse is different. 

The measure of the Industrial Metaverse is impact. Its ability to reduce waste and find opportunities to help make the real world better. 

Thanks to Karl for permission to quote his article, please give it a read.

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