Saudi Arabia bets big on the industrial metaverse

But what is it?
industrial metaverse

Speaking in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said that the metaverse has an unfathomable opportunity to add value to industries.

The WEF describes the metaverse as the fast-approaching next era of the internet. It thinks of the metaverse as an immersive, interoperable, and synchronous digital world.

Alswaha, who described himself as a big advocate of the metaverse, said the use of the metaverse to bring together physical and virtual experiences in a digital environment is ideal for furthering industrial advancements.

2D is passe’


Fellow panelist, Peggy Johnson, CEO, Magic Leap, Inc believes the true potential of the metaverse will be realized when the digital and physical world actually merge when digital content can be accurately placed within the physical constraints of the real world.

“That’s when it [metaverse] comes to life and brings productivity in these industrial environments,” said Jognson.

Another panelist, Bernd Montag, CEO, Siemens Healthineers, built on this to suggest that one of the sectors to benefit from the industrial applications of the metaverse was healthcare, with the use of “virtual human digital copies.” Montag said the metaverse would completely overhaul anatomy education with human bodies being replaced by virtual 3D representations.

Johnson pitched in with an example of a hospital that’s pioneering the use of the metaverse for surgeries, in a process known as heart catheterization, where a catheter is wound through the heart vessels before surgery.

She explained that traditionally this process included the use of a 2D screen with the surgeon translating what they see on the screen to thread the catheter. Now, thanks to augmentation, which is a critical part of the metaverse, the surgeon can have the patient’s heart right in front of the eyes as they insert the catheter. This has increased the accuracy of the process is much higher.

The future is here


Asserting that Saudi is doubling down on talent and technology in the industrial metaverse, Alswaha pointed out that the Kingdom is currently using the metaverse to help develop some of its largest infrastructure projects, specifically the NEOM and Red Sea projects.

Read More: Davos: Bringing leaders together in the metaverse

The minister shared that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had urged that all developments be tested in the “digital twin [metaverse] first” before production could begin.

In fact, in 2022 Tonomus, a subsidiary of NEOM, had invested $1 billion in several technological solutions including a digital twin metaverse.

Alswaha said the use of the digital twin helped the country recreate projects in the metaverse, which in turn helped streamline planning, and bring down costs.

“Within NEON we promised we’ll be able to save 95% of the environment, and we were able to do that,” highlighted Alswaha, adding that this method was also used by Aramco and Sabic in a project to help lower carbon emissions.

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