Despite once being mere postulation, a story for the sci-fi fanatic, the Metaverse has quickly transitioned from science fiction into full blown reality. With the events of the last year increasing our need for virtual connectivity, its significance has never felt stronger. The defence sector is one of the next frontrunners to develop this digital universe.
But what exactly is the Metaverse?
Its intangible nature certainly both defines it and makes it such a difficult thing to grasp. Consider the more familiar instances where physical engagements have been replaced by virtual counterparts: rather than travelling to your local shop, you instead go to Amazon and instead of meeting an old friend for coffee, you connect through social media. Now imagine these not as separate disconnected events, but as a single persistent experience of a world in which the whole smorgasbord of reality is represented. A world where its own environment, economy and intelligence interact with each other and where real people can share a presence. Achieving this huge scale requires an equally huge compute power, a challenge that distributed computing is greatly equipped for. Running in parallel, the advances in VR, AR and XR will contribute to the holistic experience of this new world.
Gaming and Defence – two industries evolving the Metaverse
In their efforts to create immersive, reactable worlds, game developers have come out as natural leaders in the formation of the Metaverse. In particular, the participation element is being developed due to the drive towards creating vast multiplayer experiences. These are no longer limited to players engaged in games and now include passive participation and even events such as concerts. However, a sector that is now making a somewhat unexpected contribution is that of defence.
While having different objectives with their technology, gaming and defence share a deep interest in simulating environments. Recreating past events and imagining future ones is essential in training for situations such as natural disasters or construction projects. This overlap can be grouped under the term of single synthetic environments, where the name of the game is fidelity.
In the past, training for situations that involved a huge scale and detail were beyond the scope of technology, leaving only practical solutions that were fraught with the logistical and financial issues of trying to recreate these scenarios in real life. For a digital solution to work, it would need to reflect the multi-layered nature of them and accurately simulate such factors as terrain, weather and satellite systems interacting together under one architecture.
Clearly, this goal of recreating all facets of a real-world situation is something of a mammoth task. While the potential power offered by distributed computing provides the beginning of the solution, ultimately the current provisioning methods and network models are ineffective and lack the capabilities to provide the scale needed. Furthermore, mirroring the real world participation creates the need for being able to connect vast amounts of data and clients from different geographical regions. In this push for these highly detailed virtual worlds, the defence sector is developing technological advancement in order to enable them.
In doing so, they are providing an infrastructure that other industries will make use of and contribute to in their own way. Achieving simulations of unprecedented fidelity and scale is now a great interest of both the defence sector and gaming alike.