Health, culture, commerce … The metaverse, the eldorado for VR and AR startups?

Is the metaverse, this immersive virtual world that puts avatars in the same universe, bringing the sector of virtual reality and augmented reality to a new dimension? More than video games, this concept of science fiction on digital platforms opens up a wide field of possibilities to influence work, commerce, music, television, culture and even health in the future.

Powered briefly by projects from Anglo-Saxon giants such as Meta (ex-Facebook), Microsoft, Apple, this new industry provides start-ups specializing in AR/VR technologies, which sometimes struggle to keep their promises, look at opportunities in terms of communication and marketing, create and recruit new customers.

The Covid-19 crisis prompted the shift to this immersive Internet and the metaverse impact encouraged reflection and new projects.

$ 1.5 trillion revenue by 2030

What is now being done for training or industry maintenance may be routine. We live more and more with our mobile phones and augmented reality applications or with helmets and glasses that allow us to see other things. “, analyzed by Alexandre Michelin, at the first Knowledge Immersive Forum (KIF), in September in Metz.” France has a good tradition of research. There are startups today that have the wisdom and knowledge. »

According to a KIF study, conducted with Ernst and Young, this new global Internet is credited with 1.500 billion dollars in turnover by 2030.

A windfall that Rennes startup Simango wants to take advantage of, which with its Learning Metasystem project is naturally planning itself towards the virtual hospital of tomorrow. With a turnover of one million euros in 2021 and growth multiplied by five in a year, the startup specializing in immersive fitness training modules, in virtual and augmented reality, is setting itself a period of 3 years to achieve a complete experience based on the principles of the metaverse.

Simango will certify his blockchain training

With 10,000 people trained since 2018, on mobile or via a virtual reality headset, in 250 health establishments, Simango announced in mid-January the opening of a specific metaverse department in R&D.

The existing teams (30 people) will work with employees recruited to some new positions (project manager, architect, graphic designer, educational engineers, etc.).

This project requires the addition of technological bricks and new skills. From March 2022, the team will start the first metaverse projects: avatars, virtual hospital access conditions, data storage, digital badges ”. explained Vincent-Dozhwal Bagot, president and founder of Simango.

The first Metasystem of Learning services will arrive at the start of the school year in September 2022 and will lay the foundations for this new way of learning where the needs are so great. In the metaverse, we will connect with other things, and the virtual hospital will integrate with partners, in therapeutic education for example.»

To improve its metaverse that will eventually validate blockchain training (such as NFTs), Simango plans to close a € 3.5 million Series A in October, almost three years after raising 1, 2 million euro from the funds. West Web Valley and Breizh Up.

According to KIF, metaveres should spread over the next five years. The retail sector is no exception to this trend.

Maison Berger customized the retail metaverse via Instagram

In December, Maison Berger, a subsidiary of the Emosia group (100 million euros in turnover, 50% of which is exported) tested the first live-shopping in the metaverse.

Designed by Wilkins Avenue AR Studio, which specializes in augmented reality experiences for the retail and luxury sectors, this event envisioned for the inauguration of a Marais boutique in Paris, puts the interactive 3D inside the physical world during a live on Instagram.

Through their avatar, customers are welcomed into the universe of the store decorated for Christmas and are able to respond to virtual animations that reveal (by suggesting them) the scents of Berger’s lamps.

Augmented reality is a great way to awaken dreams through technology and project customers into our olfactory universe. A brand like Maison Berger needs to combine online sales and physical experience “said Guillaume Rolland, Director of Innovation at Maison Berger Paris, and former founder of Nantes startup Sensorwake (olfactory awakening), acquired in 2019 by Emosia.

The result of this live shopping, offered in an easy to access way, without downloading an application or VR headset, is creating interactivity and engagement throughout the live, with more than 950 comments in 15 minutes. »

From February 2022, the experience will be expanded in-store with the introduction of an “enhanced POS” where consumers will be able to relive part of the animations using an Instagram filter and share them on social networks.

The Emosia group, which has 7,000 points of sale including 80 stores in 50 countries, has invested in digital acceleration of the brand to create an omnichannel “customer journey”.

Strategic investment in media and culture

This ambition also guides media brands and cultural areas. ” The metaverse concept is a great opportunity for XR projects in virtual and augmented reality », Is estimated to be Alexandre Roux, head of distribution at Lucid Realities, and regular partner of France TV Story Lab at France Télévisions.

The topic has generated all sorts of minds, among producers, broadcasters, and even at professional events. Moved online due to the pandemic, American festival Sundance itself inaugurated, in January, its version of the metaverse. »

It is in this hybrid setting, where festival goers surround their avatars in virtual spaces, that the latest Lucid Realities production is presented, Seven Grams, selected in the New Frontier category. Dedicated to the conditions of extraction of unique minerals used in laptops, this augmented reality experience was created by journalist Karim Ben Khelifa, who envisioned the museum project in virtual reality. The enemy in 2017, available in stores as an app.

The main challenge for writers and creators is how to create works that are appropriate for the metaverse and how to disseminate them in this environment. So far, there has been little impact on the growth of a company like Lucid Realities, but we’re studying how to best meet the needs of broadcasters and museums. The metaverse version of a work like The Enemy requires technology adaptation and significant investment. »

To fund their innovations, audiovisual creators can turn to funding with the help of CNC digital experimentation. With a budget of 3.5 million euros, by 2020 it will support 85 projects based on an interactive and/or immersive production process (virtual, augmented, mixed reality, interactive narratives).

As for the museums, the Banque des Territoires enabled the Grand Palais, under the Investments for the Future Program, to create its subsidiary Grand Palais Immersif, which was also funded by Vinci Immobilier.

Strategic investments

The Caisse des Dépôts subsidiary also took a stake in the company Expéditions Spectacles for its concept of naturalistic, immersive and sensory exhibition, Sensory Odysseylaunched in September 2021 with the National Museum of Natural History.

“In different areas, there is already economic activity around the metaverse,” confirmed by Alexandre Michelin during KIF. “Entrepreneurs are supported by strategic investments that will bear fruit in the coming years.»