• This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse.
  • Below you'll find insights and opinions on how this emerging technology could transform the way we work, make purchases and spend our leisure time.

1. Meta trials voice-controlled AI bot to simplify building metaverse environments

The metaverse will require the construction of virtual reality spaces on a scale never seen before. Facebook owner Meta Platforms recently demonstrated a new AI bot that allows users to add elements to virtual spaces using only voice commands. Meta says a revolution in computing will be required to build the metaverse. Simplifying the process of constructing virtual spaces should speed the development of the virtual worlds that Meta and others are looking to create. You can see Meta's demo of the bot below:

2. Accenture: 71% of executives believe the metaverse will be positive for business

Global consulting giant Accenture has set out in a landmark report how it sees the metaverse changing the way businesses operate and interact with customers.

Accenture's Meet me in the Metaverse report forecasts a positive impact on business.
Image: Accenture

The report, Technology Vision 2022 - Meet Me in the Metaverse, says new VR and AR experiences will transform the products and services companies offer, how they make and distribute them and how they operate their organizations.

3. HSBC buys virtual plot of land in digital push

HSBC is buying a plot of virtual real estate in an online gaming space called The Sandbox for an undisclosed sum, the bank's first major foray into the metaverse as it shrinks its UK branch network.

The digital push will enable HSBC to engage with sports, e-sports and gaming fans via its slice of turf in The Sandbox, a virtual space majority-owned by Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands. Its venture into the virtual world comes as the British-based lender slashes its footprint in the real world, announcing on 22 March it would cut a further 69 branches in Britain as its customers move online.

HSBC is the second global bank to invest in a popular metaverse platform after JPMorgan last month set up a presence in blockchain-based Decentraland. The US bank opened a lounge space in a virtual mall, featuring a digital portrait of Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, after earlier in February publishing a report on "opportunities in the metaverse".

HSBC said it hoped to be able to "create innovative brand experiences for new and existing customers" in its virtual world.

4. Feeling real pain in a virtual world will make the metaverse more authentic

Much of the early talk around the metaverse has been about luxury real estate, high end virtual shopping and immersive events. Now a Japanese start-up is setting out to make the metaverse a tactile experience, including allowing users to feel pain.

A report in the Financial Times quotes the chief executive of H2L, which has built a device that allows metaverse users to feel the presence and weight of virtual objects. Emi Tamaki told the FT that “feeling pain enables us to turn the metaverse world into a real [world], with increased feelings of presence and immersion”.