Published on November 10th, 2021 | by Emergent Enterprise0
How the Metaverse will Change Transportation as we Know it
How has your work commute changed in the last two years? Even though the world is emerging from the pandemic, most of us don’t report to work the way we used to and there are indications that it is never going to change back to “normal.” This perspective is shared by Devin Liddell at Fast Company in this post on how the metaverse is changing transportation for business and leisure travelers alike. If the metaverse results in a significant reduction in business travel just think of the repercussions. Less rush hour traffic (good), reduced need for businesspeople-focused hotels and restaurants (bad) and much more. The metaverse is more than just a Facebook-controlled alternate reality. Many more companies will be involved and the metaverse will truly change the way we live.
Source Photos: Damir Khabirov/iStock, Arkin Si/Unsplash, zentilia/iStock
If we’re headed for a future where we don’t need to be anywhere physically, why and how will we move around?
The metaverse is the convergence of the digital and the physical into a new experience of the internet, and it’s a hot topic at the moment. There’s good reason for all the attention. Consider the ways that augmented reality will overlay digital experiences onto physical spaces, alongside the build-out of virtual reality so robust that it mirrors real-life physical spaces, and there’s the potential to transform the human experience in profound ways.
While a lot of this attention is focused on important questions about what Facebook is building, the roles blockchain and cryptocurrencies will play, and how marketing and advertising might evolve within this new “phygital” landscape, the metaverse poses an even more fundamental question: If we’re headed for a future in which we can be anywhere virtually and we don’t need to be anywhere physically, then why and how will we move around?
With that question in mind, here are two big-picture characteristics of human mobility in a world transformed by the metaverse.
ALL TRAVEL IS LEISURE TRAVEL, AND COMMUTING IS ARCHAIC
There is already no long-term future for intercity business travel thanks to the trajectory of online collaboration tools. Yes, business travel will pick up post-pandemic in the near term, but add a decade to versions of Miro and Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace inside the metaverse and those platforms will work at a fidelity that’ll approximate physical spaces and surpass them in their superpowers. In a future with those robust systems widely available, even a 90-minute flight between Seattle and San Francisco—let alone a 14-hour flight to Shanghai—for the purposes of making eye contact and shaking hands becomes wasteful insanity. So, everyone on board a future aircraft—or zero-emission airship—will be a leisure traveler of some kind doing what leisure travelers do: connecting with people and places in ways that won’t be readily replaced by the metaverse, from retreats and vacations to natural wonders and gastronomy.
Since all travelers will be leisure travelers, the look and feel of airports and aircraft, train terminals and railcars, stations and pods, and other transportation infrastructure and vehicles will change accordingly. Right now, the character of those spaces is defined by the rigid sequences of Transportation Security Administration lines and boarding queues and materials that are meant to be easy to clean and durable. The eventual dominance of leisure travel will bring a new focus on transportation spaces that are fun. In the same way that decorated matatus brought a zaniness to shared transport in Kenya, transportation in the world transformed by the metaverse will embrace human culture in all its weird variety.
In-city commuting will be similarly diminished. While people will still gather and collaborate in employer-sponsored spaces, that won’t happen on an everyday basis. That will be for a couple of reasons: First, remote could become even more remote, with employees farther away from their corporate mailing addresses; second, the metaverse will offer the ability to gather and collaborate as well, minus the time lost and energy spent in transit.
That change won’t be limited to knowledge workers. Work in the metaverse will expand to so-called blue-collar professions as well, with the likes of wind farm technicians, ferry crews, and garbage and recycling collectors overseeing autonomous vehicles and managing robotics from afar. Even what are now termed essential services will be disrupted by this truth. Indeed, for better or worse, connected robotics are already engaged in firefighting and policing. Those robots are remotely controlled now by trained firefighters and police officers who are on-site, but the metaverse will further disentangle where humans, robots, and AI working together actually happens.