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Spinning up the metaverse flywheel requires better hardware and faster connectivity

New research shows business users and consumers are curious but skeptical about the viability of virtual worlds–at least for now.

According to a new analysis from BCG, the metaverse is about the convergence of several developments, all of which involve step changes in technological capability: Metaverse worlds, a mass market for augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality headsets and virtual assets powered by an innovative Web3 technology stack. Image: BCG

Two new studies found that people are curious about augmented reality but skeptical that the tech infrastructure is ready for prime time. However, there are some glimmers of progress mixed in with all the metaverse hype that could bring virtual worlds to the mainstream of business and consumer products.

Kiran Raj, practice head of disruptive tech at GlobalData, said that latency is the biggest barrier to the adoption of virtual reality.

“Potential solutions could be in terms of network protocols, software applications or hardware such as chips and AR and VR devices,” he said.

Abhishek Paul Choudhury, senior disruptive tech analyst at GlobalData, said data flow needs to be fast and continuous.

SEE: Why a safe metaverse is a must and how to build welcoming virtual worlds

“Decentralized routing protocols along with technological advancements like Wi-Fi 7, blockchain, and edge computing can bring in better throughput and low latency as compared to the existing network capabilities,” Choudhury said.

GlobalData lists these advances as potential solutions to latency and other metaverse barriers:

  • Syntropy’s relay network which uses decentralized autonomous routing protocol to connect data centers around the world
  • TYXIT’s SaaS-based conferencing app with low latency and high-fidelity audio that allows for optimal latency of under 30 milliseconds
  • Broadcom’s Wi-Fi 7 chips for residential and enterprise access points and mobile devices that feature advanced multi-link operation
  • Vuzix’s AR smart glasses that incorporate a proof-of-concept program that uses Verizon’s 5G and edge computing platform to run applications at the ‘edge’ of the network

Gamers are curious but skeptical about the metaverse

Research from tech consulting firm Amdocs reinforces the Global Data research around barriers to adoption. A survey of gamers in the U.S. and the U.K. found that consumers are interested in the metaverse, but concerns around poor connectivity and hardware costs are barriers to adoption. Findings from the research include:

  • The majority of gamers would consider going all-in on cloud and skip purchasing new hardware.
  • The gaming community is evenly split between men and women gender and includes a significant number of baby boomers.
  • The biggest barriers to the metaverse from a gamer’s POV are poor internet connectivity, expensive hardware and relevant use cases.
  • Gamers would pay more for their cloud gaming subscription if it was bundled with a dedicated 5G connection.
  • Gamers put the quality of games from cloud gaming providers at the top of the list ahead of price and quantity of games.

Gil Rosen, chief marketing officer at Amdocs, said in a blog post about the research that virtual worlds have the potential to be as important as email or social media but first the industry has to address hardware costs and network readiness among other factors.

“Just like the iPhone turned the internet into mobile, the metaverse will disrupt the internet as we know it and gamers will be at the front lines of this evolution,” he said. “While metaverse experiences for gaming are certainly a meaningful step in mainstream adoption, it’s only one aspect.”

Warming up the metaverse flywheel

A new report from Boston Consulting Group, “The Corporate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Metaverse” predicts that the metaverse flywheel powered by cheaper and better technology will build the user base, content and virtual assets and the creator ecosystem. The report estimates a $250 billion to $400 billion market opportunity.

A BCG report predicts that sales of AR and VR headsets will hit 88 million in 2025 up from only 16 million in 2020. The analysts see phones as a bridge in this transition via mobile AR:

“More than half of the 6 billion smartphones in use today are sufficiently powerful to enable mobile AR. In addition, the software development kits from Apple for iOS, and from Google for Android, can be extended to AR and VR development. According to research from ARtillery Intelligence, 800 million users actively use mobile AR, a number that it projects will grow to 1.7 billion in 2025.”

Business use cases for this tech include analysis and simulation, augmented workforce, virtual collaboration and training and development.

According to the report, this will require the convergence of several factors, all of which involve step changes in technological capability:

  • Metaverse worlds—m-worlds—are gathering hundreds of millions of active users thanks to the powerful computing capacity and mass-market availability of phones, tablets and PCs, as well as improvements in cloud services and connectivity, such as fiber and 5G.
  • A mass market for augmented, virtual and mixed-reality (AR, VR and MR) headsets is growing fast, with devices such as Meta Quest 2 affordable and easy to use.
  • Virtual assets powered by an innovative Web3 technology stack are rising in popularity as objects to acquire and exchange.
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Optimism vs. burnout: ADP research finds workers are equally hopeful and stressed out

ADP research institute study finds parents aren’t the only ones who want flexibility in work schedules.

The ADP Research Institute surveyed 32,000 people and found that many are willing to take bold steps to find the right work/life balance. Image: ADP Research Institute.

People are looking for jobs that don’t force them to compromise their health, well-being and family time, according to a workforce study that examined motivations behind the Great Resignation. “People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View” found that many people are considering all the options to find this kind of role, including part-time work, a move to a new industry, entrepreneurship and temporary retirement.

Seventy-one percent of workers have considered a major career change over the last year and 25% have thought about changing industries or requesting a sabbatical. Another 20% said they may start their own business, move to part-time work or retire early.

At the same time, 49% of respondents said they are very satisfied with their work and 41% indicated they are somewhat satisfied. People in the Asia Pacific region are mostly likely to feel optimistic about the next five years at work with 90% selecting this response. That is only 5% lower than pre-pandemic satisfaction levels. Europeans are the least optimistic with 78% feeling hopeful. People in North America and Latin America are in the middle at 85% optimism in both regions.

The survey covers more than 32,000 people from 17 countries and includes workers in the gig economy. The survey was conducted in November 2021. According to the research institute, the findings expose the seismic shift in employee expectations of the workplace as compared to pre-pandemic:

“The pandemic has put personal wellbeing and life outside work into even clearer perspective than ever before, and intensified the desire for more amenable working conditions, including greater flexibility, remote work options or better organizational culture.”

The five main findings of the research are:

  1. People are questioning the role of work in their lives as well as the ethics of their employers.
  2. Employees expect a raise this year and many plan to ask for one.
  3. Pay is still the top priority, but people would trade money for more flexibility in working hours.
  4. Stress levels are still high with 53% of people reporting that their work is suffering due to poor mental health.
  5. Remote workers are more likely to feel fairly compensated than people working in person.

ADP research institute study finds parents aren’t the only ones who want flexibility in work schedules. Seventy-four percent of parents and 68% of people without kids want flexibility in working hours. Workers aged 18-24 and 55+ are the most likely to want to set their own hours and locations. The study also found that only 17% of the youngest workers say career progression is important.

SEE: Is your job at the top of the Glassdoor list?

Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP, said in a press release that the stakes have never been higher for employers that need to hire and retain workers.

“Our research highlights the extent to which employees’ views of work changed, now prioritizing a wider and deeper range of factors that are more personal in nature,” Richardson said. “With recruitment and retention among the most business-critical issues, these revelations offer both a challenge and an opportunity for employers as they seek to keep workers engaged and fulfilled.”

Richardson and Marie Antonello wrote the report for the research institute which delivers data-driven discoveries about the world of work and derives reliable economic indicators from these insights.

Changing jobs and industries too

ADP researchers noted that “the drive to change jobs or move into industries believed to be more resilient to economic shocks and downturns is accelerating.” Only 25% of respondents think their job or industry is secure, compared to 36% who had this assessment in 2021.

Recent research from BambooHR reinforced this finding. The survey of 2,012 U.S. adults found that 88% of employed Americans could see themselves working in a different industry than the one they are currently employed in, with the top choices being healthcare (14%), business/professional services (13%) and the arts and entertainment (12%). Nearly all (94%) Gen Z and (94%) millennials could see themselves working in a new industry along with 84% of Gen X and 72% of Boomers.

The BambooHR study also found that 41% of Americans believe they could be unemployed for more than six months while remaining financially stable.

Anita Grantham, head of HR at BambooHR, said in a press release that the survey shows people have taken a step back to think about what matters to them and their priorities.

“Our study found that there is a deep shift happening where workers are closely examining what they want in an employer and making 180-degree career pivots when necessary to find the pay and workplace environments that they truly desire,” Grantham said.

The BambooHR study suggests that people are looking for new jobs because of dissatisfaction with current employers. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they’ve felt the least valued over the last year than they’ve ever felt in their entire career.

Payment problems are also an issue

Although workers said that diversity and pay equity is important, 33% said employees drive these efforts and 15% said no one is in charge of this work. This answer is more common in North America and Europe than in Latin America or Asia Pacific.

The ADP survey found that payment errors are becoming more of a problem for workers. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they are always or often underpaid, 21% said they are always or often incorrectly paid and 23% said they are always or often paid late.

In addition to the general stress of work, these payment problems are undoubtedly contributing to mental health problems at work. Sixty-seven percent of workers said they feel stress at work at least once a week. This is up from 62% pre-pandemic. Increased responsibilities is the top reason for this anxiety which also contributed to job dissatisfaction. Other key sources of stress include the length of the working day, problems with technology and concerns about job security.

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GM deploys Cisco wireless backhaul technology for real-time performance testing at proving ground

Engineers use the faster connectivity at a proving ground to speed up the testing process and reduce time to market.

Image: Mario Hagen/Adobe Stock

GM engineers now have a wireless solution to keep up with the fast cars on one of the company’s proving grounds. Cisco announced this week that the automaker is using the Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul system. GM installed the Cisco technology at the performance tracks of the Milford Proving Ground where vehicle speeds can exceed 100 mph.

Stephen Jenkins, director of global labs, proving grounds operations and materials engineering, said in a press release that this connectivity allows GM engineers to perform real-time analysis and stream information directly into the enterprise data center without any buffering or human intervention.

SEE: Verizon and Cisco test virtualized network for deploying autonomous delivery vehicles and robotaxis

Cisco’s wireless backhaul technology provides up to 500Mbps with ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth wireless and private mobile connectivity.

Cisco’s technology makes it possible for GM engineers to switch between simulation and physical testing by allowing large amounts of data to move between systems quickly and efficiently, Jenkins said.

Michael Shannon, VP of engineering for Cisco IoT, said in a press release that the faster connectivity helps GM shorten engineering cycles which improves time to market for technical innovations.”

SEE: 10 teams from 21 universities compete for $1.5 million in Indy Autonomous Challenge

Other installations of this Cisco product include a cable car in an Italian ski resort and shipping hubs in Malta and Italy. The wireless technology also powered an autonomous race at the Indy Motor Speedway in October 2021.

The Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul system came from Cisco’s acquisition of Fluidmesh Network. The system provides fiber-like performance in mines, railways and theme parks. The service uses free spectrum.

Securing IoT installations

Adding high-speed connectivity can make life easier in industrial settings by improving safety and efficiency. Manufacturing leaders have accelerated plans to automate plant operations over the last year due to the pandemic. Security needs to be an integral part of these plans, but one study suggests this isn’t happening. New research from Kaspersky shows that 43% of businesses don’t protect their IoT installations which increases the risk of cybersecurity breaches and data compromises.

Kaspersky recommends using these four tactics to improve overall IoT security:

  • Assess the status of a device’s security before deploying it
  • Use a strict access policy, network segmentation and a zero-trust model
  • Adopt a vulnerability management program
  • Use a dedicated IoT gateway

The security analysts also suggest following the best practices from the IoT Security Maturity Model. These guidelines provide a plan for communicating with business stakeholders which can help win support for developing a comprehensive security roadmap. This model enables stakeholders to make strategic decisions on where to invest to implement security practices appropriate to the needs and constraints of the specific IoT system.