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Blog 15.08.2022

Metaverse is growing up fast

Finnish companies are at the forefront of developing technologies that will shape the future of the Internet and the metaverse.
Petra Söderling

Petra Söderling is an Economic Development Consultant, Business Finland, located in Arvada, Colorado.

The Metaverse is growing up fast. With phenomena such as gamification, digitalization, companies have been leaping aboard to produce virtual content, worlds, events, and experiences like nothing you’ve ever seen before. And Finnish companies are at the forefront of building this exciting, new world. They’re creating the infrastructure, materials, and content for this virtual universe, empowering developers to make virtual spaces, and even creating real-world interfaces for the metaverse. The metaverse hype may be everywhere, but Finland is where the core competences lie. 

So, what is the metaverse? The metaverse, in short, is the next generation of that nebulous online experience that many people call “cyberspace.” It’s not one specific piece of technology but more how we interact with the digital world and the “objects.” We might do it through our phones, wearable gear, or VR headsets. We could enter it through a massive multiplayer online game like Fortnite or Genshin Impact, or through your company’s digital portal. The connecting idea, though, is that it’s where we’ll be spending more of our time in the coming years. It is a natural, immersive extension of the internet that we currently use through screens. 

It’s also the virtual marketplace for a new digital economy. Many companies are betting you’ll want to create, buy, and sell virtual goods, and you’ll need some way to make sure that what you’re paying for isn’t some cheap copy-and-paste job. That’s where non-fungible tokens (NFTs) come in. 

NFTs are digital representations of real-world objects like art, music, in-game items, and videos. They can be bought and sold online, and they have unbreakable code built in that prevents them from being copied. 

For instance, ZOAN, a Helsinki-based company making “virtual worlds, events, and content,” announced a partnership between its subsidiary Burst Live, Hyperreal and Surreal Events to launch ‘The Brook Metaverse,” a hyper realistic virtual experience that recreates Biggie Small’s 1990s Brooklyn. The Notorious B.I.G. (real name Christopher George Latore Wallace) died in a hail of gunfire on March 9, 1997. But his estate has found a way to help his legacy and music continue in the metaverse. 

ZOAN is a virtual reality studio using state-of-the-art game-engine 3D graphics to create their virtual worlds. Over the past 10 years, ZOAN has produced a virtual version of Helsinki and helped produce a virtual May Day concert during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Brook brings the era to life, and fans of hip-hop and Biggie Smalls will be able to experience the borough’s roots of his music, watch virtual concerts, travel through and interact with the virtual environment, buy virtual real estate, and even purchase B.I.G. collector NFTs. These might take the representation of digital cassette tapes (remember those?) of Biggie’s songs or one-of-a-kind studio outtakes. The underlying code creating the objects in the metaverse ensures their uniqueness and that they can’t be copied, thus reducing their value. 

Beyond The Brook, Finnish companies like Rens Originals are pushing the boundaries of online shopping. In the “real world,” Rens makes sustainable, cool fashions like sneakers and hoodies out of 100 percent recycled coffee and plastics. But in the metaverse, they’ve just introduced an NFT Hoodie, free with the purchase of one of their hoodies. They’re only making 2,022 of the digital hoodies, but once you’ve bought one, it’s yours to keep, sell, or do whatever you want with it in several digital worlds. The idea is that your virtual representation would rock the NFT hoodie and be the envy of your virtual friends. 

Still other Finnish innovators are working to make the virtual world more real. 

Port6, another Helsinki-based tech company, is developing a set of sensors worn on the wrist and fingers to provide a sense of touch and manipulation when you’re in the metaverse. Immersal has created an iPhone app that uses the phone’s 3D cameras to map a physical space, such as a factory floor or your living room, and then make it available as a digital space to the metaverse. Meanwhile, Dispelix, based in Oulu, Finland, is making stylish, high-tech displays that can fit in eyeglasses frames to enjoy augmented reality layered over your daily activities without drawing attention to your new superpowers. 

The Finnish representation of metaverse companies in SXSW 2022 stressed that metaverse is not just for entertainment and digital business. It is also a place where manufacturing companies can interact with equipment in place at their customers' facility for maintenance detection via digital twins, IoT and 5G companies can test out site installations at their private industrial customers' sites, or vessel and air pilot training can happen without disturbing real-life surroundings. Examples of Finnish companies in this space include Haltian, Kone, Wartsila, and Nokia. 

Digital and virtual products and services are in the focus with the recent Finland-Colorado Memorandum of Understanding, where Colorado companies and universities in advanced high-tech fields collaborate with Finnish counterparts on aerospace, high performance computing including quantum technologies, and green and sustainable technologies. Colorado based organizations such as NREL, CU Boulder, the Colorado Space Coalition, and Colorado Cleantech Industry Association along with their member companies embrace the possibilities digitalization brings to the local economy. 

Finnish companies are at the forefront of developing technologies that will shape the future of the Internet and the metaverse. They are innovators in virtual reality, hardware and software, and NFTs and are working to make the virtual world more realistic and interactive. As we enter a new era of digital living, Finnish companies are helping make it as welcoming and fascinating as the world around us. If you want to enter the metaverse, Finland and its technology industry can lead the way.