It seems the metaverse is just about all that corporate leaders and investors can talk about these days. But will this virtual-first world really live up to expectations? In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Jan. 10, contributors Toby Bordelon and Jason Hall discuss this and more with Canada senior analyst Jim Gillies. 

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Toby Bordelon: I'm kind of with Jim here. I do think it's a little bit overrated right now. I love the idea of it. I really do. I love the idea of the metaverse, VR and all that stuff. It overhyped.

I think it's for sure overhyped. In the average person I talked to, their reactions there was more restrained, I'll put it that way, than someone in the tech world or the investment world. The normal person on the street living their lives like yeah, whatever, it will happen when it happens.

I think like Jim here, I think the hype is the thing, I think when you look at these things, the ramp up period is often much bigger than people think it would be. The same thing we've seen with self-driving cars.

A decade ago, we're talking about self-driving cars and we'd have fully autonomous vehicles on the roads by now. We do not. [laughs]

Jim Gillies: Not going to happen in our lifetime either.

Toby Bordelon: There's a very good case in making that.

Jim Gillies: Yeah. I said it. 

Toby Bordelon: Yeah. There you go. Some people would disagree with you, but there's a very good case to be made there. The metaverse I think is the same thing, it's going to take a while. Look at some of the issues with this. I think some of the issues with wide adoption is the equipment.

There is a software issue, you've got to create the AI and the algorithm is going to to make all this happen, people were talking about it's going to take some time. The hardware is an issue, it's very expensive. There are headsets now, VR and AR headsets out there, but they are expensive. They are cumbersome, they're limited.

Really, if you have one, you're probably have it for gaming purposes and that's about it or you're a researcher researching this stuff. On that point, the thing that was interesting to me, and talking about a company is looking at Disney.

Two weeks ago, we want a patent to do augmented reality in their theme parks without devices, using cameras and projectors and that stuff but you wouldn't have to wear device or your headset.

You take a step back here. A theme park is an environment where people are already primed to do things like strap themselves in, put restraints on, wear 3D glasses or a headset necessary to have the experience.

If Disney is saying the way we want to bring AR to our theme parks is to create a system where you don't have to do that, that says a lot about I think what they think adoption is going to be if you have to have these cumbersome devices.

That's one reason I think it's still a little ways off. I just don't think people are going to go through life wearing headsets and goggles, even sitting down at their own desk in the context of work, they just don't want to do that. You've got to get this technology to start work can be immersive without these things and we're not anywhere near that yet. This is going to take a while.

Jason Hall: I love that because it's like the irony there is just so rich because Disney, a place that people go to suspend disbelief is saying, guys, you really shouldn't suspend disbelief on this being the next big thing. I love that.

I think I will say this, I think for the consumer, people, it's totally way the expectations are absolutely bananas, but I think there's probably some under appreciation for the industrial side, the design side, that kind of thing. I think that's where the real benefit is going to be probably quicker.

Nobody's really paying as much attention to that because they're all looking at Meta and some of these other companies and Microsoft and that sort of thing.

I think companies like maybe Unity and some of these other software companies, they are the ones that are going to monetize it quickly because there's a clear use case where it makes sense.

You are building a skyscraper, you're designing an automobile, you're making a 3D environment for a movie, there's a clear use case.