Building a barrier-free society via metaverse
AI made great strides in the 2010s using brain science and neuroscience as its theoretical basis, achieving, among other things, greater image recognition accuracy than humans for some tasks and unsupervised learning, thanks to improvements in computer processing capabilities and the accumulation of massive amounts of “big data”. We think the metaverse is likely to spur major technological advancements in semiconductor-related fields within the next few years.
What is metaverse?
There is still no consensus on the definition of the metaverse. In 2011, the Virtual Reality Society of Japan defined the metaverse as something that fulfills the following four criteria: (1) it has a three-dimensional simulated space, (2) it has avatars that are representative of users, (3) multiple avatars can share the same three-dimensional space, and (4) objects can be created inside that space. It has also been suggested that a metaverse must also have economic elements and be immersive and accessible, for a total of seven criteria.
Major advances in brain science using AI
Advances in AI technologies are also bringing about progress in brain science and other areas where AI is being applied. Systems that can measure brain waves and turn them into sentences and systems that can read dreams have already more or less been achieved. In the case of former, the brain waves of subjects are measured as they utter various words, AI then analyzes this data and is then able to transcribe sentences from brain waves with a high level of accuracy. In the case of the latter, the contents of subjects’ dreams are recorded along with their brain waves. This data is then analyzed by AI, which enables systems to infer what kind of dream a subject is having.
Entry by another group should bring further advances in AI and neuroscience
Academia has made great strides by combining AI and neuroscience, but going forward more game programmers will be getting involved. Over the next few years, we think great strides will be made with brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) by applying neuroscience to metaverse gaming, which should allow users to operate devices, enter messages, and control avatars through their thoughts alone.
Advances in BMI will allow avatars to be controlled and people to communicate via brain waves
As a practical application, BMIs open the way for patients that are bedridden and unable to speak due for instance to illness to communicate with people around them. We have seen a medical start-up that aims to use BMI to solve a variety of neurological disorders as well, such as memory loss, hearing loss, depression, insomnia, addiction, stroke, paralysis, and seizures. Advancements in BMI could enrich the quality of life of people with disabilities and usher in a barrier-free society through the metaverse. Advancements in BMI that allow for reproducing taste, touch, and smell in the brain will also make it possible to provide more realistic virtual experiences.
One reason we expect major advances in the metaverse from here is the rising expectation that the metaverse could solve a range of issues facing society. The metaverse could be an effective technology for attaining the key SDG of building sustainable cities and communities, allowing for greater societal engagement for disabled people and more active participation by the elderly, which is crucial to achieving this goal.
Summary from Nomura report “The metaverse and the SPE industry” published in March 2022.