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DUBAI: The metaverse will shape every industry, from manufacturing to transportation to healthcare, and Microsoft Cloud is helping companies implement mixed reality, according to the company’s chief operating officer in the UAE.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of GITEX Global 2022, Ihsan Anabtawi, also the chief marketing officer of Microsoft UAE, said that people would be able to see their digital world become the internet of places and ownership through the metaverse and Web3.

“We should view the metaverse as the next step in the evolution of the internet, which began as an internet of data in the 1990s and 2000s, the internet of people in 2010s and is now the Internet of Things,” he said.

The company, according to Anabtawi, has been building a bridge between the physical and digital worlds through Microsoft Cloud, Teams, mixed reality technologies such as Mesh and Hololens and Azure Digital Twins, an IoT platform that creates a digital representation of real-world things, places, business processes and people.

“This isn’t a short-term investment; this is bringing the full power of our work across several areas to enable the future of computing in the metaverse for business and consumers,” he said.

Microsoft sees the metaverse through three pillars, Anabtawi said. Firstly, presence and connection, even when not in the same space, and building connections in the hybrid world. 

We should view the metaverse as the next step in the evolution of the internet.

Ihsan Anabtawi, COO, CMO, Microsoft UAE

Secondly, immersive worlds engage employees and customers in new ways through innovative experiences, empower fans to be creators, and foster a thriving community that stands behind the brand and mission.

Finally, he said he leveraged Digital Twins, AI, and real-time data to transform operations.

From the company’s founding, it has always been its promise to create technology fundamentally so that others can create technology, he said.

Anabtawi said that the Microsoft HoloLens 2, recently launched in the UAE, is a headset-enabled mixed reality that connects directly to the Microsoft Cloud for analytics, data and artificial intelligence.

“We see this device as a crucial element of the metaverse with an abundance of applications, where Kawasaki now uses HoloLens to build robots for the factory floor,” he added.

With HoloLens 2, companies can analyze data differently and conduct iterative testing.

“Before investing, for example, in a physical asset, they can model it using holographic technology and look at data,” he said.

Microsoft also sees new scenarios in remote assistance. “It’s been used in real-world surgeries, remote maintenance and many other scenarios,” he said.

The device is also “reimagining the meeting experience,” Anabtawi said.

Developers have no limit to the type of experiences they can build on HoloLens 2, Anabtawi said.

“So, you can build purpose-built applications on HoloLens, the headset that uses holographic tech, whether we call that metaverse or mixed reality,” he said.

He said that users could access familiar apps, such as team and collaborative apps and purpose-built applications that are entirely new.

Anabtawi said users could customize their avatars for meetings using Mesh, one of Microsoft’s metaverse technologies.

“So, if you’re working from home and don’t feel like turning on your camera that day, you can have an immersive avatar-based experience,” he added.

Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces is another Microsoft offering expected to enable metaverse experiences at scale. The product is still in preview, but Anabtawi said it would model how people move and interact with any space, including shop and factory floors.

He concluded that the metaverse has an important role in the region’s digital transformation, empowering employees, engaging customers, optimizing operations and transforming business models.

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