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Can AI Save the Metaverse?

And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” – Genesis 1:3

In my last No Jitter post, I commented that the journey of augmented and virtual reality had been a roller coaster and even went as far as to say it has felt temporarily out of service the last 18 months.

One of the reasons nobody is talking about the metaverse anymore is that AI has sucked all of the air, and most of the capital, out of the room. AI is the new shiny thing everyone wants to discuss, but could AI help resurrect the metaverse?

One of the challenges with building out the metaverse is the massive time and expense of creating virtual environments. Creating engaging content in three dimensions takes very specialized skills, vision, time, and money. I’ve done some world-building myself, which is complicated, time-consuming, and tedious. While I enjoyed my feeble attempts to create worlds, the results were extremely simplistic.

But just as Genesis tells a story of God speaking the world into existence, what if we could leverage AI to speak the metaverse into existence?

Today, tools like DALL-E can generate two-dimensional images and artwork based on a simple prompt. It is not that big of a stretch to imagine that generative AI can create environments in three dimensions, immersive worlds that could be explored and experienced in VR. These AI-created worlds could be created by anyone with an active imagination or built from content already created.

For example, AI could build the entire town of Springfield from “The Simpsons,” just from a simple prompt. It could then populate the town with AI-powered avatars based on the characters from the show. A VR user could walk around town, belly up at the Moe’s Tavern bar, and converse with Homer. (And yes, this example raises huge questions about intellectual property, but that’s another post for another day.)

Beyond the entertainment example, AI will play an essential role in supporting digital interactions in VR. Just as we have chatbots for serving digital interactions on 2D devices, in the metaverse, we will need AI powered avatars interacting in 3D environments. And since typing in VR isn’t typically efficient, I see voice as the primary mode of communication with these bots. The challenge will be for the CX companies to adapt their portfolios to support this new communication channel.

For businesses, all surveys point to training as a huge opportunity to leverage VR. The problem is the time and expense it takes to build training environments and create content. With AI, this entire process could be accelerated as the worlds could be created with simple prompts and populated with AI bots trained to interact with employees based on the desired outcomes. AI could also be used to measure the success of the training in real-time and even adjust the content to make it easier or more difficult, depending on the trainee's reaction.

Using AI in training leads to lower costs, better outcomes, and faster deployments. But what about the world of AR? Does AI have a role in the evolution and growth here?

AI plays an increasingly important role in AR and will be key to development moving forward.

While not technically an AR device, the new Meta Ray-Bans uses AI to speak to information on what you are looking at by analyzing images from the cameras in the glasses. But this is just the beginning.

One of the most frequently mentioned use cases for AR is having a remote technician walk an onsite technician through a repair. The remote tech can see what the onsite tech sees and provide visual instructions inside the tech’s glasses. This is an excellent example of the use of AR and typically results in a favorable ROI, but AI can take it even further. AI could watch and learn how to diagnose and make the repair and then walk the onsite tech through the repair without needing another tech.

This is the future of self-service – an AI-powered augmented reality experience. The bot can see what the user sees and provide and monitor suggested actions to resolve the issue. In the past, the challenge would be the complexity of customizing these solutions and building out the various elements required to make them work. AI will significantly simplify these tasks, as it could start by analyzing human-led interactions until it can take over.

As mentioned, the same CX tools we use today will be needed in these metaverse technologies. How we deploy, manage, monitor, and report on these tools doesn’t change.

The metaverse has been missing a key ingredient that has been holding it back. AI is that ingredient. It will still take time for it to mature and permeate into these various technologies, but just like in other areas, it will be a massive accelerator.

This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.