The Metaverse: technology already influencing civil infrastructure

‘The Metaverse’ has been bandied around by many companies in recent months to represent a new wave of emerging technologies that digitally represent the real world and will transform the way we interact with each other and the environment around us.

Exploring the first prediction in the 2022 predictions series, Sensat CEO, James Dean expects the growing importance of the metaverse as we move beyond what we know is possible today. But what does the metaverse mean for the construction industry?

Towards the end of 2021, the interest in the buzzword ‘Metaverse’ swarmed the technology industry, further elevated by Facebook’s renaming to Meta, to the exploration of what potential the new cyber-physical internet could unlock for different industries. However, although the term ‘The Metaverse’ seems relatively new, the ideas behind the metaverse are something that the tech industry has been toying with for years, just without the name, meaning it is already something many industries, such as construction, are embracing already but without actually knowing.

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse encompasses so many opportunities that it is hard to actually define it, but as an idea rather than just fingers on screens interacting with 2D forms of data, in the metaverse, 3D, 4D, VR and AR will allow people to immerse themselves in data, information and content layered over the physical world with which they can interact. What seems like an abstract idea for some today may very well be the future, perhaps not the very near future for everyone, but the future nonetheless. It’s closer than you think, with the projected global market size for spatial computing by 2026 currently sits in at £143bn and we only expect this to grow.

However, the metaverse is not just the latest trend to obsess over in tech, but like the internet, it has the potential to change the future of how we interact with the digital and physical world. It is being explored for new business models that enable remote decision-making, collaboration, training and operations, and would allow our actions to be done through the metaverse. In this world, we can go shopping, meet friends or attend a concert, all within a virtual environment.

What does the metaverse mean for construction and Civil Infrastructure?

Where the construction and AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sectors have previously struggled to come online due to the inherently physical nature, the metaverse already presents an opportunity to overcome the challenges of translating the 3D world onto a flat 2D screen. Using the metaverse, the construction industry will be able to fully embrace the opportunities of a 3D world, so that teams can experience things such as digital rehearsals using VR, form new ideas, or conduct site visits where teams can walk around with others to explore a site in 3D, minimising the hazards of putting boots on the ground and saving on the need to travel to site to make decisions and see changes. Essentially you can be on site with team members without being physically together.

We predict that the metaverse is going to drive one of the biggest changes in digital transformation in 2022 as industries, including the AEC industry begin to fully embrace it. These sectors have caused the most detrimental impact on our planet, however, at Sensat our aim is to use the creation of the metaverse for positive change—creating digital twins to support sustainable development, helping companies plan, build and manage regeneration and infrastructure projects to preserve more of the real world.

Ahead of the curve, Sensat has already started to build the metaverse by creating digital replicas of over 20 cities and sites, including HS2, Heathrow and the M25, as well as the entire milky way. Using Sensat you can utilise a 3D digital twin to fly through the photo-realistic plan of your site with an accuracy of 50mm in order to obtain a real-time view of a site’s progress. And, use in platform commenting to collaborate with teammates and stakeholders, have back and forth conversations, coordinate teams, solve problems and exchange information faster.

You can also interact with the digital replica of your project and take accurate measurements including volumes, heights and cross-sections to reduce time spent on-site, while providing users with access to explore difficult or dangerous to reach areas from safety using any internet-connected device. Powered by site data and information made visually consumable and easily surfable, you can make decisions across the asset lifecycle which will help to not only save time and cost but also reduce material waste.

With the metaverse already existing in gaming and social media, and with the creation of digital replicas of cities and towns, as an industry we have an opportunity to bring together data to drive better and more informed decision making. In turn, we can start to reverse human destruction and drive huge sustainability wins.

And although the full extent of the metaverse is not known today, it has a strong potential to streamline processes and make the construction industry more sustainable in the long run.


For more predictions on what Sensat CEO, James Dean believes 2022 will bring, read the latest press release here, or get in touch with our team who can help you to capture and create a digital twin of your next project.

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