The metaverse, whatever it is, is attracting more and more interest in all sectors of the economy. And, like the internet itself, there are parts of the metaverse that are all business and focus on finance and governance, and there are parts that welcome the worst in society.
While much of the volatility in this real estate may be fueled by speculators, Yuga Labs has successfully shown that property in the metaverse can be a hot commodity, even with non-tech companies buying properties and building businesses. spaces in the metaverse to interact with customers and customers.
To that end, companies and government agencies interested in pursuing opportunities in the metaverse have started using digital twins on their recently purchased real estate holdings.
These virtual representations of all sorts of real objects were originally developed by academics and NASA as a means of inexpensively and thoroughly testing and simulating complicated machinery such as spacecraft and their engines. Digital twins allowed NASA to iteratively test their designs without the costs of building and destroying the devices.
Large multinationals have also embarked on the bandwagon of the digital twin/metaverse. Nike, the sportswear maker, has just announced its digital shoes – partly in response to emerging competition that provided digital twins of Nike-branded shoes. Nike’s CryptoKicks, while not yet digital representations of the real thing, will come with Snapchat filters that will allow owners of NFT-based sneakers to pose online while wearing them.
Other multinationals like BMW and Lockheed Martin, for example, have created working digital replicas of complex manufacturing floors as well as digital replicas of wildlife areas for fire behavior analysis and security.
The City of Orlando is developing a model of the entire metro area to help it develop a technology hub. And other major metropolises like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Helsinki, and Singapore are developing digital versions of their cities to advance various policies. Even Dubai’s cryptocurrency regulatory agency, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority, has settled on the Sandbox metaverse platform.
Correctional facilities are also setting up digital twins of real-life environments in an effort to ease the transition of long-term inmates into modern society. Convicted felons will be able to virtually practice using self-checkout aisles in supermarkets before their release.
However, the Metaverse isn’t all virtual roses. Bringing real-world experiences into the immersive environment of the metaverse will raise new ethical, legal, and social questions. For example, much of the metaverse will be accessible through XR (extended reality) technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. These devices have the ability to collect millions of data points from their users as they immerse themselves in the metaverse. This data can be particularly private such as biometric information relating to respiration and heart rate, as well as location and text and audio information. The collection of this data by metaverse platforms could violate emerging laws such as the California Privacy Rights Act, which came into effect in January 2023, which significantly limits the collection of consumer biometric data.
Professor Dov Greenbaum is Director of the Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies at Reichman University’s Harry Radzyner Law School.