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Private metaverses and digital twins: how luxury becomes efficient

Using XR and VR technologies within high-fidelity private metaverses opens up new scenarios and opportunities for the luxury market. It’s time to take the hyper-personalisation of high-end products to a new level, with huge benefits for both retailers and customers.

Luca Mascaro

19.12.2022 - 5 min read

"Luxury is above all a world of brands". When Philip Kotler pronounced this sentence, he did not imagine what the word "world" would stand for today. A world, or rather, multiple and virtual worlds (VR), and extended realities (XR), in which retailers can experiment with unexplored opportunities to reshape their brand experience.

When I talk about luxury goods, I mean products of excellent built quality, high price and exclusive enough to give their owners a prestigious status.

Obviously, many of these products can be customised or made from scratch. Still, in this case, I am referring to goods with a particular spatial component: bulky, remotely located, or highly complex design. I'm talking about yachts, homes, luxury vehicles.

How can luxury retail benefit from integrating emerging technologies?

Let’s start with the technologies by simplifying and tiding them up: 

VR  (Virtual Reality) makes 360° immersion possible by wearing a headset and taking the viewer into a completely virtual environment with infinite simulations of reality. We talk about MR or Mixed Reality when the real world is merged with the virtual one, creating environments for people, physical and digital objects to interact in real time.

XR (Extended Reality) uses transparent glasses to add new three-dimensional elements and digital information to the environment and its surrounding objects that are otherwise invisible. It is often confused with AR (Augmented Reality) for the hardware similarity but can only add flat and simplified information.

These technologies are part of Spatial Computing, i.e. the interaction with computers that can perceive spaces and objects in their complexity. They can be used to reconstruct high-definition digital twins of existing environments and objects.

Two scenarios for new opportunities with digital twins

Imagine wearing a VR headset and virtually entering the digital twin of a yacht to customise it in all its details: materials, surfaces, bathrooms and furnishings - an activity that would otherwise require a visit to the shipyard.

This innovation opens up new possibilities in the entire product life cycle, allowing us to virtually board all the models in the product line. How much space would a whole catalogue of yachts permanently displayed take up? Not to mention the investment needed to make it happen.

Setting up a catamaran on the Engage platform

The same can be said of the time and travel required to visit dozens of homes in the real estate sector. We could visit them virtually in a few minutes and save a lot of our precious time by excluding the ones that are clearly not meeting our needs.

The second scenario, on the other hand, concerns live customisation through XR glasses. Let's take a sports car and its perfectly superimposed digital twin: it is possible to change its colour on the spot or make internal arrangements with photorealistic virtual details providing an accurate perception of the finished product.

The evolution of virtual showrooming in private metaverses

The opportunities expand further when we combine these scenarios with the possibility of acting within private metaverses. A company can build the digital twin of its product and invite customers and sellers, or the professionals who will take care of personalising it, to meet simultaneously.

Inside a virtualised apartment, the homeowner can meet the architect and modify spaces and finishes in real time, simulating daylight according to seasons through the artificial rendering of natural light. The benefits of investing in virtual views can be massive for houses that are on the other side of the world or can’t be visited multiple times throughout the year.

A mixed reality automotive design review on Varjo

Why would we do it in private metaverses?

First of all, the technology is ready today but still extremely expensive. For this reason, I speak of high-end products with high margins that make the necessary investments sustainable.

For example, it’s possible to meet in photorealistic metaverses through Nvidia Omniverse. Here the changes are rendered on servers with impressive computing power that can handle the details in live streaming - a technology sold per minute, currently incomparable with virtual showrooms visual fidelity.

The limits of cost and computing power exclude the possibility of opening metaverses of this kind to the public, which remain private and accessible by a few people simultaneously.

These technologies do not replace the in-person visit but allow us to anticipate products and discussions, empowering the experts involved and caring for customers' time and travel needs. Their use elevates the brand and enables retailers to offer new distinctive experiences to their customers.

Today at Sketchin, we are working on these solutions in the naval, real estate and automotive industries. A new design challenge that we are exploring is combining these technologies' potential resources from the most advanced platforms, opening up new scenarios for industries, businesses and people.

Discover how our Immersive Design Practice can help you innovate your business through the union of new technologies.