Metaverse: Buzzword hell at CES 2022

Metaverse: Buzzword hell at CES 2022

CES 2022 is caught up in the Metaverse hype with some bizarre marketing excesses.

When ex-Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed his Metaverse plans in the summer 2021 and did that so forcefully that he even renamed his company to “Meta,” he apparently left a lasting impression. Zuckerberg thus transformed the somewhat dusty 1990s term “metaverse” into a vision of the future of the tech industry overnight.

Unfortunately, Zuckerberg was not very specific when describing his Metaverse vision. What happens when a leading tech executive presents unfinished visions on a grand scale can now be seen at CES 2022: In about three months, marketing departments redesigned their documents, booths, and slogans to reflect the Metaverse. The result is … well, see for yourself.

The Metaverse: Nobody knows it, everybody has it

Product manager Nima Zeighami, who works for Leica in the XR sector, among others, strolled through CES 2022 and documented the Metaverse hype in the exhibition halls with some pictures.

There is, for example, the “Lotte Metaverse” from the South Korean Lotte Data Communication Company, which, according to the press release, sells virtual dream houses that are linked to real commerce.

It sounds like this in the company’s announcement: “The metaverse services currently available in the market don’t allow consumers to purchase real products, or experience virtual concerts as if they are real, so they aren’t likely to attract customers.”

I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg already knows about his oversight.

In any case, the Lotte Metaverse has a remedy at hand – by providing a link from the Metaverse kitchen to the real-life home goods store: “If users click on home appliances, they will be taken to a home appliance store, which cannot be implemented in real life. It is not only possible to see the product, but users can have a unique experience in which a real person will be their shopping advisor for the product. A new era of convenient shopping where users can compare and try the home appliances they want without going to the store has dawned.”

More Metaverse marketing missteps

The company Cyvision is showing an AR hud for cars that puts navigation data directly in the field of view and on the road – comparable to Google Maps’ AR mode. The demo convinces some trade show visitors. The advertising promise, too?

There are many more examples: Established data glasses maker Vuzix, for example, is touting the Metaverse as a way to connect with the real world – instead of projecting useful digital information into the field of view, as it used to, so you can keep both hands free while working.

“Goart Metaverse,” or “Go Art Metaverse,” aims to create a metaverse for digital art. “Unlink VR” is working on a universal wireless adapter for VR glasses, including Valve Index. Interesting for the Metaverse, of course.

German company Oqmented was at CES 2022 with AR/VR display technology and a mobile 3D lidar camera. There was no mention of the Metaverse in the press release (exemplary!), but direct Metaverse access was promised at the booth.

Both Mudro and Coolso promise Metaverse interfaces via wristband and smartwatch, Extriple offers an “industrial Metaverse solution” and Seerslab a “Mirror City” that can broadcast people, objects, and environments in real time into a “Metaverse space.”

“Metaverse City” particularly activates my eyebrow muscles: the company promises other companies a Metaverse starter package consisting of a Metaverse domain and a piece of Metaverse land.

And before you ask, yes, the “real Metaverse” is, of course, at CES 2022 as well.

You can find all the examples described here and a few more, with visuals, in Zeighami’s Twitter post.

Metaverse: Just hype or is there more to it?

So, does CES 2022 prove that the Metaverse is just a buzzword, a marketing stunt, empty hype? My answer is an indecisive yes.

Some technologies associated with the Metaverse, such as VR, AR, and AI, are changing or enhancing the human-computer relationship. The fundamental proof is already here. Now it’s a matter of concrete implementation and scaling.

In my view, the term metaverse serves as a collective term for the vision of a computing future that is different from the current one in many ways. Metaverse is another word for change, a signal of departure. Whether the term itself or the closely associated concept of a digital 3D intermediate world survives this change remains to be seen.

What Zeighami’s CES snapshot definitely demonstrates: The metaverse vision is still chaotic, and the term is a buzzword right now. The Metaverse hype is also spreading in China, where everyone wants to go to Yuanyuzhou.

Let’s see who else will be printing Metaverse visions on glossy paper and plastic walls at CES 2023.