Metaverse: disentangling the value from the hype

An overview and mapping out of relevant trends related to the Metaverse, created with the Reply Sonar Platform.

Constructing the Metaverse

The recent explosion of the metaverse onto the public scene came from a combination of technological growth, the popularity of blockchain-based currencies and assets, emerging interest in 3D online spaces, and Big Tech’s newfound dedication to a decentralized Web3. With so many iterations and use cases, the metaverse is a tricky thing to define. Instead, we often classify metaverses by their dependence on certain building block technologies: these include decentralized information in distributed ledgers (e.g., blockchain), AR/XR/MR/VR, volumetric video, 3D engines, mobile and haptic interfaces, machine learning, and more.

The Metaverse Hype-Cycle

By using our Reply Sonar Platform, we can create an overview and mapping out relevant trends related to the Metaverse based on their occurrence within expert media articles, mass media, patents and scientific publications.


Timeframe: Dec 2021 - Nov 2022

Emerging experiences in the metaverse

More relevant than the mere technological building blocks of the metaverse are the distinct “experiences” that have evolved in this digital space. We have chosen to put our focus here, attempting to better understand the metaverse by examining current and developing practices in each sector and the business value they create.

The social Metaverse

Metahumans, Virtual Assets, Digital Venues & Third Spaces, New Social Experiences

The social metaverse represents the next generation’s social interactions, in which creators and contributors will create a new, inclusive, and ethical digital world which fosters meaningful connections with others. This new digital world will revolve around decentralized identity and ownership, including immersive 3D environments, “phygital” spaces, digital marketplaces and investments, virtual goods, and photorealistic avatars, all of which will be in the hands of creators to control.

The commercial Metaverse

Meta-Commerce, Metaspace Marketing, Analytics in 3D Environments

The commercial metaverse will reframe human-centered customer experiences and impact how brands will design future offerings and customer journeys across various industries. It will combine online and offline retail, reaching consumers via marketing in the metaverse, and adapting to 3D data feeds to develop new metrics and KPIs. The future virtual economy will come to rival the importance of the physical one. Business leaders need to start thinking strategically about how to head into this new commercial metaverse, creating metaverse-only businesses, including virtual worlds and spaces as part of the marketing mix. They'll need to retrieve real-time data, and expand 3D analytics capacity via AI to include spatial data, biometric data, and sensor-based behavioral data.

The industrial Metaverse

Virtual Collaboration, Next Level Engineering, Augmented Learning

The industrial metaverse will have organizations looking beyond simple remote meetings and move to digital twins, virtual trainings, new forms of virtual collaboration, next level engineering, and augmented learning. As organizations get acquainted with the metaverse, they will be able to use new technologies to offer immersive business meetings that include expressive avatars and realistic spatial environments, virtual products as blueprints for production, virtual market testing, and immersive, memorable, and continuously-improving training experiences.

Initial challenges for moving forward in the Metaverse

Barriers to growth

From a technological standpoint, the expansion of the metaverse hinges on the scalability of spatial computing, internet bandwidth, and energy efficiency, as well as navigating interoperability protocols if we truly want to see a networked virtual world.


As technology rapidly facilitates the creation of new worlds, users and creators are challenged to redefine social norms of access, etiquette, and performance. We must answer the questions of who has authority in a decentralized world and who manages social order and protects users from nefarious activities.

Consumer Acceptance

While Gen Z may be embracing the metaverse (particularly in the gaming realm), and some corporations see its business value, others are struggling to imagine the utility of these networked digital worlds. In particular, the issue of access to the metaverse remains a barrier, as VR headsets and haptic devices are not ubiquitous household items.

Our experiences