Transiting The Metaverse: How Web3 Is Shaping The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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In a Nutshell…

  • The age of innovation is characterized by mass disruption, accelerated technological development, and globalized access to information.
  • The fourth industrial revolution is set to transform factories and businesses into computer systems with modular processes.
  • The metaverse is the playground of Industry 4.0, which means that we can monitor and control physical devices from anywhere on Earth.

The age of innovation is characterized by mass disruption, accelerated technological development, and globalized access to information. These drivers represent a shift from a siloed government-controlled approach to a more decentralized system created by the community it serves. Web3 enables creators to build their own platforms and profit from them, all while reclaiming their valuable data.

The interoperable metaverse will use Web3 as a basis for networking and connectivity. In this future system, the modern internet (Web 2.0) will merge with virtual worlds to create an interactive web owned by users (Web3). In this context, the metaverse will be an immersive playground for businesses, creators, and developers to build new experiences and interactions.

The fourth industrial revolution is set to transform factories and businesses into computer systems with modular processes. Web3 will help in facilitating peer-to-peer networks powered by the industrial IoT. The metaverse will essentially house Industry 4.0, leading to a fusion of our physical, digital, and biological identities. These identity shifts are crucial to understanding how we will access information in the future and communicate with others.

In this article, you'll learn about the burgeoning metaverse, the future of digitalization, Industry 4.0, and the impact of an emerging Web3 on businesses and individuals. 

Infographic with a blue background depicting the evolution of the web. In descending order, three pink, blue, and yellow diagrams show Web1, Web2, and Web3 as they evolve. 

The Metaverse & Web3

Both terms refer to the same concept but are used in different contexts. In short, Web3 refers to the next generation of the web, which includes advancements like smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).

In futurism, the metaverse is a single iteration of the internet, characterized as a universal and immersive virtual world driven by extended reality (XR) technologies. Web3 enables a world where people can interact with each other, create content, purchase goods, learn, and work in interoperable virtual spaces.

Web3 and the metaverse will be built on blockchain architecture, offering users an unparalleled level of democratization. The decentralized nature of blockchain means that data reconciliation and resource distribution will be more consistent and transparent. The use of distributed ledgers also allows for a ‘trustless’ environment that is both tamper-proof and immutable. 

Glowing cuboid with blue light emanating from the center with shadows and light reflections. 

What Does Web3 Mean?

Web3 is a term that describes the third generation of the World Wide Web. It was coined in 2010 by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the semantic web. Berners-Lee defines Web3 as “a vision of the future Internet, one that would allow individuals to control their personal data, and that would provide them with greater privacy and security than ever before.”

Berners-Lee also illustrated that Web3 is different because it focuses on user empowerment rather than corporate control. Web3 describes an internet run by its users instead of being controlled by large corporations. Web3 and the metaverse are not mutually exclusive; they are two sides of the same coin. They both represent a shift from centralized to decentralization. However, while Web3 is focused on empowering individual users, the metaverse is designed to give everyone access to a shared experience.

The rise of blockchain technology has driven this change in direction and will likely be a significant disruptor enabling cross-industry digital transformation. 

An interactive virtual touchscreen with various details lit in red and blue neon. In the center is a virtual notepad and pen enclosed in a blue neon circle.

What Is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that records transactions between parties without the need for a central authority. It uses cryptography to secure transaction processes and prevent fraud.

This makes it ideal for tracking ownership of assets such as land, cars, and NFTs. It also allows companies to track supply chains and verify authenticity. Because it's immutable, there's no room for error. This immutability makes blockchain attractive to governments and financial institutions who use it to manage taxes, trade finance, and voting.

The Future Of Blockchain?

Blockchain technology has been around for a while but is still in its infancy. It is expected to grow and evolve over the next few years as more people start using it. The future of blockchain technology will be defined by how well it can handle real-world applications. 

We already know blockchain technology can help companies streamline processes and reduce costs, but there are many other ways this technology can improve society. Blockchain-enabled business models represent a seismic shift in the future of business. As Industry 4.0 is actualized, blockchain technology will significantly impact eCommerce as the global digital economy moves toward decentralized business models.

Five laptops in the open position on a wooden table with various objects, including a coffee pot, cups, an external hard drive, headphones, notebooks, and various mobile devices. 

The Future State Of Decentralization & Web3 

As mentioned earlier, Web3 is a shift away from the current centralized control model. Instead of having our information stored on servers owned by big businesses, it will be distributed and encrypted across computers owned by us. This decentralization of information storage will lead to more transparency and accountability and give us more power over our lives.

Websites can be made to adapt to different devices, locations, and accessibility needs. Web applications will become increasingly responsive to user behavior, enabling us to share content with others directly from integrated metaverse websites, social networks, or messaging platforms like Slack. 

Decentralized Web3 will make it easier for individuals to find what they're looking for and connect with their friends. It will also allow them to take back control of their data and privacy. In addition, it will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and developers to build innovative products and services.  

An example of a real Web3 app is the Brave browser which lets people earn BAT tokens when browsing the internet rather than selling ads to users. StepN is another “crypto” concept, where users earn tokens by walking/running with value coming from sponsors like Asics/Nike. 

If you want to buy something online, you won't have to rely on a company to store your credit card details. You'll be able to pay directly using a crypto wallet and decentralized identity apps that make it easier to prove who you are when you log into third-party applications.

Web3 promises more control over user data. Ideally, there will be easy and intuitive user experiences that let people share their personal information with websites without worrying about who has access to it. Some refer to this as decentralized identities, which will be a foundational part of Web3 systems. 

Nice wooden squares in three rows of three spelling out the words “who are you” in all capitals.

Decentralized Identity

A decentralized identity is a digital representation of your real-world identity that you can use across multiple applications. It doesn't require special hardware or software; you only need a smartphone and an internet connection. If someone inextricably hacks your email account, they can’t access secure data such as bank account details. A decentralized database shared by computers in the blockchain networks records transactions in a way that makes it very hard to alter, hack, or cheat.

Decentralized identity provides a way for personal information/credit to be applicable across different platforms, a feature Web 2.0 currently doesn't have. For example, your educational background, financial information, and social network are records in your wallet. When you use the wallet/account to log into different platforms (apps/websites), the platform will be able to gather your information automatically.

Another benefit of a decentralized identity is that it gives people more control over their personal information when using online services and social platforms. For example, you could choose not to share certain parts of your identity with specific services. If you're worried about sharing too much information, you can set up a profile where only selected friends and family members can see what you've shared.

Futuristic purple and indigo computer code graphic in a vertical pattern.

Smart Contracts

Web3 will empower us by giving us back control of our finances. We'll be able to create smart contracts that automatically execute payments based on the conditions we specify.

A smart contract is code that runs autonomously once certain conditions are met. It's like a self-executing legal agreement where you agree to terms and conditions when you sign up for a service. These terms and conditions are written down as a smart contract, and once the requirements are fulfilled, the contract executes automatically.

In addition to being cheaper than traditional banking systems, smart contracts are also faster and eliminate the need for intermediaries. So instead of waiting days for your money to transfer between banks, you can send funds instantly. And because smart contracts run autonomously, they are less likely to be tampered with, meaning no one can change them without your permission. 

However, smart contracts can be hacked if they are not written well. According to Investopedia, about 34,200 current Ethereum smart contracts worth $4.4 million in Ether are vulnerable to hacking due to poor code containing bugs. Some developers use AI to detect suspicious activities or known vulnerabilities to prevent smart contracts from being hacked. Developers are also developing auditing tools to identify potential security flaws before deployment.

Various hand-drawn doodle illustrations of UI and UX interfaces representing the development of Web3. 

How Does Web3 Impact The Metaverse?

Web3 is going to make the metaverse more accessible. Characterized by rising demand and mass adoption, more people will begin to interact with the metaverse as Web3 reaches maturity. 

It will also give developers new tools to build better apps in real life. Because Web3 is built on top of existing technologies, it will allow them to leverage those technologies to develop an extensive experience. This feeds directly into the next point, ownership of data. With Web3, people can store their personal information securely. And because it doesn't rely on centralized servers, it won't be vulnerable to hacks or attacks.

Web3 will bring greater transparency to the world economy and allow users to decide whether they want to share specific information about ownership of assets, leading to greater accountability and trust.

A silhouette of a mountain with two men on either side looking up at a starry blue night sky.

The Future of Industry 4.0

The Industrial Metaverse is an open platform for developing smart machines that work together in real-time. It enables machine-to-machine communication, collaboration, and data sharing among these devices. This allows us to create a world where everything works together seamlessly.

According to the IIC, Industry 4.0 will lead to a new wave of innovation in manufacturing, allowing factories to automate processes, improve quality, reduce costs, and increase productivity. It will help them connect all aspects of production — from design to delivery — into a seamless flow of information, resulting in better customer service, increased efficiency, and lower prices.

The metaverse is the playground of Industry 4.0, which means that we can monitor and control physical devices from anywhere on Earth. Because the metaverse is an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT), where everything becomes connected to the internet through smart devices, it offers a new paradigm for information exchange between people, machines, and things.

A prominent use case for the Metaverse is digital twins, where real objects are represented in a virtual reality environment. Some companies are already using this technology, with the industrial metaverse expected to reach $540 billion in revenue by 2025 as companies start to take advantage of Industry 4.0 tools. 

A bokeh shot of a digital twin or simulation with 3D graphics in the color pink. An out-of-focus background with a man gazing at the center. 

Digital Twins 

Digital twins are representations of physical assets in a virtual world and allow you to interact with said assets in a safe and secure environment. For example, you can use remote dashboards via a web browser to access vital information and reports about your car's status, including its engine and fuel levels. This allows you to perform maintenance without having to go to the dealership. 

In the business world, digital twins enable enterprises to create a 360-degree view of their operations, helping them to optimize resources and streamline processes. Digital twins are becoming increasingly popular, especially among manufacturers who need to keep track of their products throughout the lifecycle. They provide visibility into the entire product journey, from design to assembly, and can be used to generate digital simulations that simulate performance metrics before a product is built. 

In addition, businesses can use digital twins to test parts and components, identify potential problems early, and prevent costly errors. Digital twins, in the context of the metaverse, mean that we can monitor and control physical devices from anywhere on earth. According to the IIC, Industry 4.0 will lead to the next wave of innovation in manufacturing, allowing factories to automate processes, improve quality, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

Metaverse-based digital twins will help businesses connect all aspects of production—from design to delivery into a seamless flow of information, leading to better customer service, increased efficiencies, and lower prices. 

A futuristic manufacturing facility with a gloved hand holding a metal block between a clamp. Blue sparks/light emanating from a modern soldiering iron.

The Future of Digital Twins & IoT 

The metaverse is a new paradigm for information flow between people, machines, things, and services. With the intersection between IoT and Metaverse, we can carry out simulations using real-world scenarios and develop new products and solutions based on these simulated situations. We will use this technology to identify potential hazards and ensure safety for our existing systems and processes.

With the acceleration of IoT platform development and the data streams they enable, we're seeing the emergence of new technologies that will be critical building blocks for the Metaverse. The real value of the metaverse is AR integrations — in other words, the ability to combine and layer digital experiences into physical spaces. 

One of the key aspects of metaverse success will be its ability to integrate augmented reality (AR) seamlessly and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to create new, advanced applications that can help solve real-world challenges. For designers and engineers who use these technologies, this could mean using digital twins to simulate real-life feedback for physical buildings under development. 

Manufacturers may use data overlays to improve their field service operation or machine repair. Enabled by augmented reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IoT), the metaverse will establish a new precedent for working and collaborating, allowing enterprises to function at much faster speeds and scales.

A light green background with a 3D globe attached to a compass keyring with a sundial style.

Metaverse as a New Paradigm

Today, data is stored in databases and transmitted over networks. In the future, we will move towards a world where sensors generate data and send it directly to other devices without going through an intermediary (IoT). 

With the help of IoT technology, 3D environments can be made seamless by connecting a range of real-world devices. As a result, simulations within the Metaverse can be used to create an immersive experience where the physical and digital worlds are indistinguishable. For instance, with the help of metaverse gaming interfaces, people can simulate their own heartbeat and breathing rate, which avatars can replicate in-verse. 

The Metaverse and IoT will power each other, with experts already calling them technology twins. While IoT will allow the metaverse to analyze and engage with the real world, the metaverse will act as a 3D UI for IoT devices, enabling a new tailored IoT UX. The metaverse and IoT will assist the world in making data-driven choices with minimal training and mental energy.

Both Web3 and blockchain technology are complementary. Web3 emphasizes decentralization, and blockchain technology can be used to develop a whole new financial system. At the same time, creating an entirely new economic system can complement the vision of Web3 by implementing decentralization.

As we move toward decentralization, we should consider what kind of Internet we want to create in the metaverse. Because the metaverse is all-encompassing, we need an interoperable, open source, and public blockchain so that different virtual realities can interact seamlessly. 

With the onset of Industry 4.0, we'll see many changes in how people interact with each other online. Whether we use it for work or recreation, the metaverse will play a key role in connecting us and our machines and becoming increasingly important to our digital life. The next industrial revolution will be driven by the metaverse and its ability to create a new wave of businesses that provide services to people and machines alike.

If you enjoyed reading this piece, check out our article “Transforming business: The Enterprise Metaverse” to find out what the metaverse means for the future of business and the functional areas within the enterprise that the metaverse will likely transform.