In addition to Siemens and Deutsche Bahn, the Cologne-based plastics specialist is also experimenting Igus our Industrial Metaverse. The resulting digital parallel universes could, like the introduction of assembly lines or Robotic have a disruptive effect on sales, engineering and service. I got straight into it Iguverse and felt like the leading lady of James Cameron's not-yet-made blockbuster "Avartar Industry".

Igus Metaverse Iguverse



Avartar ICH for the first time in the Metaverse Iguversum

Igus Metaverse Angela StruckAt first I look skeptically at the attempts of a colleague who, equipped with the VR glasses, tries a little awkwardly to get her virtual yellow feet on the ground. When she then finds it and obviously seems to enjoy it, I bravely try it and enter the virtual worlds of Metaverse in the Iguverse.

Guided and in virtual space by press spokesman Oliver Cyrus accompanied, I quickly find my feet and can move in space. Space is far, far an understatement if you want to describe the virtual environment. I am in a generously glazed, modern building, which is in an extremely attractive environment. The mixture of Maldives and Bali outside gives you wanderlust. 

Running through virtual worlds with an avatar, going on adventures with friends or fighting angry zombies together: that's everyday life for them Generation Z, but so far not for me. My last game I played on the computer was Anno. A lot seems to have changed since then. And I'm excited.

Incidentally, the term metaverse was not created by Mark Zuckerberg, as some think. Rather, science fiction author Neal Stephenson first introduced the Metaverse in his novel Snow crash referred to as the worlds in which those born between 1995 and 2010 find themselves in games like Fortnite or Roblox move naturally through digital parallel universes.

However, the digital space is more than just a gimmick for the industry. The digital space or the metaverse is one of those today technological trend topics. Management consultancy McKinsey estimates that the digital space or metaverse could reach a market value of up to five trillion US dollars by 2030. Technologies like Big Data, Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning and 5G will develop enough clout to profoundly transform the industry.

Companies are already reflecting their technology as 3D models in the Industrial Metaverse. Teams from all parts of the world can then cross continents as Avatars in the digital space work together. You plan machines, systems and entire factories faster, more safely and more economically than is possible in physical reality. 

How the Metaverse is changing engineering

Igus Metaversum Iguversum

It's not just rock stars who now use the Metaverse for their own purposes, such as the somewhat aged musicians in the band ABBA, who appear considerably rejuvenated as Abbatare in London. The virtual world is also slowly arriving in industry and is attracting the interest of large corporations and innovative companies. For example, the Digital Native Factory from Siemens in Nanjing, China, what the engineering looks like in the Metaverse. In the production center, CNC systems, Drives and electric servomotors manufactured. The special feature is the digital twin approach. Before building the smart factory, Siemens simulated the entire infrastructure with all machines and systems with a digital twin. This enabled the planners to plan building dimensions, material flows and media supplies such as electricity, nitrogen and IT more precisely than ever.

Optimize in the digital world to get it right the first time in the real world the motto. As a result, the company was able to eliminate planning errors early on that used to cost a lot of time and money. With this digital planning, the productivity of the factory could be increased by 20%. In the next step, Siemens plans to create digital twins that not only look like real machines, but behave like them. Simulate technicians e.g. B. an increase in temperature in the environment, they can look at the reactions of the digital twins and draw conclusions about the real effects.

Virtual Reality in the Iguverse

Igus Metaverse participantsI'm now jumping from one demonstration to the next in the Iguversum and am becoming more and more confident. A Robotic arm gets my special attention. With my two joysticks I can touch it, pull it big and small and even take it apart. Mr Cyrus says this is just the beginning. If you think a few steps further, customers and igus employees can continue to look at the igus product in much more detail in some iguversum versions. What is still extremely exciting today will bring really useful benefits tomorrow.

With Metaverse, Igus wants to revolutionize sales. Customers should put on VR glasses during consultation appointments and immerse themselves in the Iguversum. In this virtual space, all products can then be perceived as digital twins. The 3D model of a mini-van, in which igus products made of high-performance plastics are installed, can be admired almost up close. That too is 100% off Plastic existing urban bike has already arrived in the metaverse. It is at least as interesting to present the infrastructure. The 3.800 m² virtual laboratory tests thousands of products at hundreds of stations every year.

That's enough impressions for me today. Because when I was in the building between different platforms jumping higher and higher, I eventually land on the top of the building. A look into the depth gives me a shock and the virtual reality plays a real trick on me. Not actually plagued by a fear of heights, I still don't dare to move even slightly. Nothing but water in front of and below me, no protective railing to hold on to. Oliver Cyrus says I should just jump back down, but I don't dare. Not yet.

The Vision of the Iguverse in the Metaverse 

Igus MetaverseRegardless of location, engineers and material experts from all over the world can work together in the Iguversum. That products can be experienced in a new way is just that first stage of evolution of the Iguverse. The Cologne-based Motion Plastics specialists plan that in the future customers, engineers and material experts from all over the world will come together as avatars in digital space. Here they can then carry out entire engineering projects - faster and with less friction than is possible in the physical world alone.

Travel activities, e-mail correspondence and telephone odysseys are no longer necessary. Projects become clearer and easier to understand right from the start. Instead of exchanging abstract data sheets, engineers can create 3D models of machines and systems in the Iguversum. With VR glasses, the team players can digital twins look at it from all sides and get an idea of ​​its size and functionality more quickly.

igus would like to use the Metaverse not only for engineering but also for operation and service. In the After Sales Metaverse machine operators and technicians could meet in the future to conduct product training. The experience is intended to be almost lifelike and therefore much more effective than training videos. Incidentally, Deutsche Bahn also seems to be convinced of this. She now uses it in her training centers Smart Glasses and intelligent software. Young technicians can take a virtual look at switches or interlockings and interact with the digital twins.

Merge Metaverse à la Pokémon Go with reality

Igus Iguversum chain

Part of the Igus vision is to merge the virtual Iguverse with reality. This should happen in the form of a Brücken technologie with Augmented Reality (AR), which many people know from the computer game Pokémon Go. The other players look at their surroundings through the camera of their smartphone and chase virtual fantasy creatures that appear on the screen. This is where the real and the virtual world mix, from which engineers can also benefit.

Igus robot 2023The whole world of igus robots

You can download 3D models from the Iguversum via a AR software position by igus in their environment. This gives you an early impression of whether the real environment can be reconciled with the planned machine. Igus has already developed such a comparable experiment for sales, as the following example shows:

In the past, sales staff hardly had a chance to get inside a closed Energy chain of the series Triflex to look. Some mechanical principles were left to the imagination of the other person. With the help of the software, the product can now be viewed through the smartphone camera. The software overlays the image with a virtual twin in real time. The result is a kind of X-ray view of the mechanism inside the sample chain. Products that require explanation come to life thanks to augmented reality.

James Cameron says hello

Angela Struck meets James CameronIt remains to be seen how quickly and in which direction the Industrial Metaverse will develop. In addition to the companies that make the technology possible in the first place, there are also the users themselveswho decide about it.

Fortunately, the trade press days last two days and I had enough time to get a good night's sleep. I am determined to go the next morning back to the iguverse. I climb the roof of the building much faster and become the master of my imagination. I can now empathize a bit with the avatars in James Cameron's blockbusters, but my location is much more limited. With light yellow feet, I finally jump down from platform to platform and continue looking around at the product presentations.

My gut feeling gives me full of euphoria that the invention of the beam I have been waiting for so long is finally within reach. When I was at a Solidworks director press event in 2010 James Cameron asked how he sees it, I didn't get a satisfactory answer. His Avatar blockbusters still impress me and now I'm even an Avatar myself. In the metaverse of Igus, it feels a bit like being able to beam yourself into the Iguverse itself and at least from one floor to the other on site.

But behind all this development effort there must also be a meaningful benefit. Therefore, as with all their experiments, the Cologne-based company always puts the customer benefit first with the question: 'Is this tech or can this go away?' From today's perspective, it would make sense for me to push the Iguversum technology further. 

A survey by the software manufacturer Teamviewer By the way, shows: Of the 2500 selected people who had heard the term Metaverse before, the majority had no idea of ​​the Industrial Metaverse. Almost 70% were unaware of the technology. There is still a lot of educational work to be done before the big breakthrough. 

General technical knowledge

What is metaverse?

The Metaverse is a term that describes a virtual world in which people, digital objects and environments interact and exist with each other. It is an extended part of the internet that combines 3D visualizations, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other immersive technologies to provide users with an immersive and interactive experience. In the metaverse, humans can act as Avatars interact with each other. Users can maintain social interactions e.g. on social media, participate in virtual events, conduct business or even own their own digital real estate. They can work together, demonstrate something, communicate with each other or play together. They don't just look at a screen, they are directly in this virtual world, e.g. B. look through virtual reality glasses (VR) and move in them using joysticks. After the Metaverse had been doing the rounds in the tech scene for some time, the Internet of the future got a new boost when Mark Zuckerberg, the Meta boss, wanted to invest billions and renamed his own company Meta. However, he is not the namesake, because the term metaverse was from Neal stephenson invented in his novel Snow Crash.

How do I get into the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a concept that has now grown far beyond the pages of science fiction novels. It is a virtual world that connects different digital worlds and the Internet in which users can interact. Getting started with the Metaverse usually requires virtual reality (VR) glasses or a similar device and special software or platformsto immerse yourself in the virtual worlds. The importance of the Metaverse goes far beyond that of the traditional web, as it offers a fully immersive and interactive experience where just about anything from social interactions to virtual business opportunities, is possible.

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Author information
Angela Struck

Angela Struck is a freelance journalist and managing director of the Presse Service Büro GbR in Ried.