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Metaverse by Finland – from buzz to reality

“Metaverse can be described as a network of virtual worlds interconnected, where people represented by avatars can live, work, and move freely,” writes Petra Söderling

Business Finland

Metaverse is the latest buzzword in technology. In her column Petra Söderling, Senior Advisor at Business Finland, explores the concept and how Finnish knowhow is making it a reality.

I was recently in a meeting with a large American corporate investor who described Finland as a “throbbing red dot on the international map of IP”. The country’s strong history and present talent in digital technologies make it an optimal place for sourcing building blocks for the metaverse, the latest buzzword in tech.

The metaverse can be described as a network of virtual worlds where people represented by avatars can live, work and move freely. It can be seen as an extension to the internet, a continuation of the lives we currently lead with our faces and fingers connected to a digital screen, our financial and other assets in a digitised form, and tracking our biological events via sensors on our bodies (biohacking). In the metaverse, your connection to the digital world is immersive. 

Jon Radoff, an American entrepreneur, author and game designer, describes the constructive architecture of the metaverse as seven distinct layers: infrastructure, human interface, decentralisation, spatial computing, creator economy, discovery and experience. 

Finnish companies operate in all seven layers of the metaverse. Image: Business Finland

The infrastructure layer consists of things such as 5G and 6G telecommunications systems, wi-fi connectivity, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), graphics processing units (GPU) and novel materials. Human interface means things like wearable wrist bands, glasses, head coverings and gloves, mobile devices, haptic gesture sensors and signals, and voice and neural commands. Decentralisation refers to the concept that no one party should control the metaverse, much like no one party should control the internet. This layer includes edge computing, adding computing power closer to the user away from centralised data centres, and blockchain for the secure identification of a user or assets. I would also add the larger Web3 framework to this layer. 

The four upper layers those closest to the human experiencing the metaverse are also areas where Finland excels. Spatial computing encompasses 3D modelling and virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) solutions, which are commonly themed under the acronym XR for extended reality.

“In metaverse, your connection to the digital world is immersive.”

The creator economy, i.e. how creators use digital tools, is how much of Finland’s copyright-based industries create their revenue. In 2015, it represented 5.38 per cent of the Finnish GDPand employed 5.61 per cent of the total workforce. Finnish creators in the metaverse are a diverse group of people from games, books, music, films, clothing and shoes, food, health, interior and furniture design and transport.

And finally, discovery and experience is how, where and when people use these services, and how businesses monetise them. Finland’s gaming industry is a well-known phenomenon that offers direct answers to these challenges.

While most commercial companies now focus on these upper layers, Finland also offers tools, talent and knowhow on how to make it all a functioning reality. Digital twins, Industry 4.0, IoT and the immersive servicing of manufacturing plants are B2B use cases already being deployed in the Finnish market. Even though they are not labelled as metaverse they should be.  These lower level, functioning enabling layers with profitable industrial use cases are how you turn buzz into reality. 

Petra Söderling
Senior Advisor, Digital Technologies, Business Finland