Hyundai, Panasonic, LG join the metaverse fever at CES 2022

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Asian companies are beginning to eagerly seek growth opportunities in the metaverse, but the path to profitability remains unclear.

According to Nikkei, many companies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 have been eager to join the metaverse race, and Asian companies are no exception, even as they are still in the process of figuring out exactly what to do. What does this concept mean?

The term “metaverse” was coined by the famous novelist Neal Stephensen in the science fiction novel Snow Crash to describe a virtual world where humans interact with each other in digital form. Ever since the word “metaverse” entered the world of business, especially after Facebook changed its name to Meta late last year, the debate around how to interpret the metaverse has not stopped heating up.

“I don’t think metaverse is a fixed, precise definition at this point. It’s still evolving,” said Sokwoo Rhee, head of LG Nova, the Silicon Valley-based innovation arm of LG Corp.

At the media expo on January 4, LG introduced a number of metaverse-related startups that it is partnering with within an incubation program. Among them are iQ3, which specializes in building enterprise training programs in virtual reality, and I3M, an immersive experience startup that offers the opportunity to ” travel ” the world in the metaverse.

Rhee said it is not yet clear how those projects can be integrated into LG’s business but hopes the metaverse will help reshape the growth path for the group. “I don’t think LG wants to define the metaverse at this point. We kind of know what it is and we know it’s going to be part of the future,” Rhee said.

Meanwhile, South Korean automaker Hyundai has introduced a new concept called “metamobility”, which implies a combination of metaverse and mobility, aiming to expand beyond the business sector. auto business. Hyundai acquired robot maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank in 2021. Hyundai’s Spot robot dog made headlines at CES 2022, where the Korean automaker described the future of the metaverse as a place where multiple robotic devices function as links between the virtual and physical worlds.

For example, a robotic car can provide mobility services like a personal car, it can also become an office or center entertainment for the driver to interact with other people in the virtual world. while moving in real life. However, it may take some time before Hyundai fully realizes its performance vision. When Nikkei visited the Hyundai Metaverse booth at CES 2022, human-robot interaction was mostly limited to one screen.

Unlike the two companies mentioned above, Panasonic chose to start experiencing the metaverse with hardware. The Japanese corporation introduced MeganeX, a virtual reality headset that weighs around 28 grams, much lighter than current devices like Meta’s Oculus.

“Panasonic needs new markets, new customers, and new products. We believe the metaverse has huge business potential and people will spend more time on it,” said Takuma Iwasa, CEO of Shiftall, the wholly-owned Panasonic subsidiary that developed MeganeX and three other virtual reality devices, say.

According to Edo Segal, founder and CEO of Touchcast, an abased startup that New York- provides virtual event spaces for businesses in the metaverse, not all projects are successful. But the important thing is that companies should start experimenting early to beat the competition. Mr. Segal likened the situation to a company setting up a website in the 1990s. “You can wait, but if you wait, someone else will get there first and take all your work.”

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