Michael Kelly, demonstration solution architect at Nokia's executive experience center in Coppell, demonstrates a real-world use for Microsoft’s HoloLens using Nokia technology. (Eli­as Valverde II/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Nokia’s vision of the future is a world where the metaverse replaces smartphones

It’s hard to imagine a world unconnected to your cell phone. Unless you work for Nokia.

The telecommunications giant sees the metaverse becoming a consumer technology at the end of this decade, replacing smartphones as the primary form of communication.

“Our belief is that this device will be overtaken by a metaverse experience in the second half of the decade,” its chief strategy and technology officer, Nishant Batra, said as he held his phone during a recent visit. in North Texas.

To a large extent, it will be up to the 1,700 employees of the Finnish company working in the development of Cypress Waters to turn this ambitious goal into reality.

Nokia traces its roots in the Dallas area to the 1950s. The company now leases 250,000 square feet of space in the company’s sprawling development not far from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Famous for developing the first fully automatic cellular phone system, Nokia has since grown into a technology company in its own right, developing facial recognition used at some airports or helping electric utilities secure the network. Seven of the major electrical grids in the United States are powered by the company’s networks.

Nokia made more than $21 billion in sales last year, operating in more than 130 countries with a total workforce of nearly 88,000 people. To deliver on the big plans, Nokia plans to bring new hires to North Texas in the coming years as the metaverse gains adoption.

Simply put, it’s the next generation of technology that will shape our daily lives.

Sukumaran Nair, a distinguished professor at Southern Methodist University and director of the university’s AT&T Center for Virtualization in Dallas, said the metaverse can be viewed as a compilation of new technologies packed into a single bucket.

“One way to define this is an extension of AR and VR with the potential for real-time data collection from different parts of the internet,” Nair said, referring to augmented reality and digital technology. virtual reality technology, the typical metaverse mental images – handhelds, headsets, goggles.

Extending the use of technology could mean many different things for a variety of industries. This could involve everything from expanding internet use to developing new ways to learn skills.

The metaverse concept might seem fairly recent, gaining traction in recent years when social media platform Facebook was renamed Meta. Founder Mark Zuckerberg wanted the influential company to focus on the next digital frontier, the metaverse.

But the metaverse isn’t new, Nair said. In the 1992 novel Snowfallwriter Neal Stephenson coined the term metaversewhere humans would interact with each other and software in a 3D space that uses a real-world metaphor.

A phrase often used in the metaverse world is “digital twins”. Think of them as virtual representations of an object or system that spans its life cycle, is updated with real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to aid decision making. decision, according to research firm IBM.

When Nokia thinks of 2030, the landscape is very different from what it is today.

The company sees three main influences in how this world is taking shape: socioeconomics and geopolitics; technology and what users need at any given time. Nokia’s vision is framed by enabling concepts: human augmentation and digital-physical fusion.

Human augmentation refers to the technology that allows people to interact with the digital world, or devices such as virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses. But in the future, Batra said, the interface will be much more personalized and unique.

Digital-physical fusion deals with real-world objects, systems, and processes that are represented in the digital world.

In the consumer metaverse, revenues from virtual spaces where people interact will depend on consumer appeal. Monetization will be fragmented, with growth through 2026, according to Nokia estimates. Success will come if there is buy-in for multiple uses, such as gaming, social interaction and virtual travel, Batra said.

“Wide adoption of the technology by businesses and consumers will be essential for it to really take off, and it will also depend on the availability of affordable and ergonomic wirelessly connected VR and AR devices,” Batra said.

The enterprise metaverse, which includes both offices and schools, is filled with things like simulations and infinite workspaces and will scale based on the value companies derive from them. One way to think about the potential is what Batra calls an “architectural and engineering firm’s digital drafting table.”

Nokia sees metaverse-inspired device and solution innovations as a growth opportunity for businesses.

In the industrial metaverse, digital twins and simulation could be used in factory production lines or mining operations. Industrial machinery trades could be taught by working with a virtual reality headset.

Batra points out how aerospace companies build engines and airframes in the digital world to exactly simulate the flight of an airplane, and factories, including Nokia’s, exist in the digital world as much as in the physical world.

Next-generation technology is used every day in Nokia’s Cypress Waters offices. Virtual reality headsets are available that users can try exploring or working in the metaverse. There is a green screen room where users can be placed inside places such as a coal mine, where the technology can detect if someone is wearing safety gear.

Batra said one example of how the Metaverse could benefit businesses is in infrastructure, helping engineers better understand traffic patterns, wear and tear over time and how to make roads safer.

By 2030, Nokia envisions a 6G world that will usher in advanced technologies such as computer vision, biosensors, digital twins, and immersive AR and VR. This development will also create more potential entry points for attackers.

Nokia is also preparing for this, Batra said. Nokia launched a cybersecurity lab in Coppell, Texas, in May in what it hailed as the first US-based end-to-end lab to take 5G protection to the next level.

Dallas-based Match Group acquired a South Korean social media startup, Hyperconnect, for $1.7 billion in April, which allows users to build relationships in a virtual setting.

Retail giant Walmart entered the metaverse through gaming experiences on Roblox that are dubbed “Walmart Land” and “Walmart’s Universe of Play.” Walmart Land features fashion, beauty and entertainment items, while Walmart’s Universe of Play features toys.

Consumers are also interested in the possibilities. Trade publication MarTech Today reported on what consumers want most from a metaverse experience:

  • 68% want to experience music.

  • 53% virtual shopping and stories.

While getting to the future world of Nokia will take time and education, Batra said generations of digital natives are ready for the technology.

“Each generation adoption is faster than the previous generation, not just by a bit,” Batra said. “It’s exponentially different.”

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