Open Menu Close Menu

Digital Worlds

By 2026, 1 in 4 People Will Spend at Least 1 Hour Per Day in the Metaverse

virtual reality

Gartner predicts that within four years, 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse — a "collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality … accessible through any type of device," as the research firm defines the term. Time in that virtual space will be spent for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment purposes, Gartner said.

"Vendors are already building ways for users to replicate their lives in digital worlds," noted Marty Resnick, research vice president at Gartner. "From attending virtual classrooms to buying digital land and constructing virtual homes, these activities are currently being conducted in separate environments. Eventually, they will take place in a single environment — the metaverse — with multiple destinations across technologies and experiences."

Currently, however, the adoption of metaverse technologies is still "nascent and fragmented" and it's too early to know which specific metaverse will be viable in the future, Resnick cautioned, adding that it's important to take the time to learn, explore and prepare for the metaverse's potential impacts. For instance, Gartner expects that enterprises will boost engagement and connection among their employees by offering immersive workspaces in virtual offices, while virtual events will provide more collaborative and immersive networking opportunities and workshops, all supported by the metaverse's infrastructure framework.

One factor tempering short-term expectations for the metaverse: General awareness of the technology is still relatively low. In a Gartner survey of 324 consumers in January 2022, more than one-third of respondents (35%) had never heard of the metaverse. Another 58% said they have heard of the metaverse but do not know what it means, or understand the metaverse but would struggle to explain it to someone else. Just 6% were confident in their understanding of the metaverse.

"Contemplating the metaverse is a luxury that most people don't have time for currently. Getting people on board to see past the individual pieces of AI or head-mounted displays is paramount to them truly embracing the multiple technologies that make up a complete metaverse," said Kyle Rees, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. "Technologies that are intertwined with the metaverse, such as projects on the blockchain or digital currencies, need to be highlighted as disruptive to the status quo thinking. Even properly communicating business use cases around metaverse-adjacent concepts, such as AI and augmented reality, will go a long way in demystifying what is still largely an unknown technology to the everyday consumer."

More information on Gartner's predictions for the metaverse are available in "Predicts 2022: 4 Technology Bets for Building the Digital Future" (access restricted to Gartner clients).

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

comments powered by Disqus