METAVERSE EXPO JAPAN 2022 showcases exciting tech from leading companies

Masahiro Ajisawa, president of Facebook Japan (Meta Japan), speaks at the event.

Inside an exhibition hall in Tokyo, visitors got a glimpse of how exciting the ideas and technologies about the metaverse can be. Buzzing with enthusiasm, they toured around booths set up by 30 leading metaverse-related companies, organisations and government agencies during METAVERSE EXPO JAPAN 2022. The event was held by Meta (formerly Facebook) at a Tokyo hotel on July 27 and 28.

The main exhibition hall housed the “Metaverse Business” booths from a wide variety of companies, including VR and crypto asset firms, telecommunications carriers, printing companies and the media. This year’s event was opened to the media and related parties only, but the same content will be presented at CEATEC 2022, which will be held at the Makuhari Messe convention centre in Chiba in October.

Visitors try spacewalking on the International Space Station in VR at Bascule/JAXA’s booth.

Experiencing virtual market with VR headset

The following are some of the booths that caught our attention at this year’s METAVERSE EXPO.

HIKKY, organisers of one of the world’s largest virtual events, Virtual Market, a festival held in VR space. The Tokyo-based company, established in 2018 as a VR specialist, regularly organises virtual markets. A recent event held in 2021 attracted a total of one million users in just two weeks.

Visitors at this expo were provided with VR headsets so they could visit previous Virtual Markets. They could view featured products in the VR space from major companies such as JR East, NTT Docomo and Yamaha Motor, as well as IPs such as Godzilla.

Visitors can use VR headsets to explore Virtual Market.

One interesting item displayed at Virtual Market in December 2021 was a VR roller coaster that represented stock price fluctuations. The VR roller coaster, displayed by SMBC Nikko Securities, moved in synchrony with the slump of stock prices during the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008 and other events.

The Sandbox, a virtual world game under Hong Kong blockchain company Animoca Brands, appealed to visitors to “hurry to the gaming metaverse” at its booth. The Sandbox is an NFT game based on blockchain technology that allows users to freely buy and sell land in the metaverse among other features.

A model of Shibuya 109 from The Sandbox metaverse space was created in the same Lego-block style and displayed at the company’s booth. It also demonstrated a variety of collaborations it was holding with various companies and characters such as Betacma (a popular LINE Stamp character).

The Sandbox showcases its Shibuya 109.

Virtual shops enable ‘shopping of the future’

CyberMetaverse Productions, a leading online advertising agency established in February this year, presented a “virtual shop that creates the shape of future shopping.”

The company plans to build various types of metaverse spaces and shops to provide VR and AR purchasing experience via avatars. It also plans to develop functions to allow users to create and sell original items using NFTs.

CyberAgent, the parent company of CyberMetaverse Productions, is known for hiring celebrities and social media influencers to develop online channels. With this advantage, the company proposed some new ways of utilising the metaverse, such as introducing celebrities’ private shops and holding “guest activities,” in which fans can connect to their favourite celebrities.

CyberMetaverse Productions shows how an image taken by a camera is merged in the metaverse.

A staff member of CyberMetaverse Productions said: “In the future, we hope to link up our brands, such as Ameba Blog and AbemaTV, so that more users can enjoy these services.”

NTT DOCOMO showcased four services at its booth, including XR World, which allows users to enjoy the metaverse space as avatars, and XR City, which integrates urban walks with AR effects. The leading telecommunications carrier demonstrated a multi-faceted approach to utilising its infrastructure.

“The company’s main focus is on the latest technologies and devices. Yet many people still own low-spec devices. We want to provide services that can reach everyone while trying to avoid overloading data terminals with communications,” an NTT DOCOMO staff member said.

NTT DOCOMO demonstrates its XR space app.

NTT DOCOMO has recently established the XR Promotion Office to handle new businesses in MR, AR, VR and the metaverse, etc. The company has combined a number of previously separate XR-related departments and is working to strengthen new businesses related to the XR space, including the metaverse.

Bascule/JAXA showcased its “Space Metaverse,” which allows multiple visitors to try spacewalking on the International Space Station in VR. Softbank displayed its “Virtual PayPay Dome,” a metaverse service that allows visitors to take up the batter’s position in a VR space synchronised with live baseball images from the real world. 

‘The metaverse is about co-creation; it cannot be created by one company alone.’

Alongside the booths, about 30 sharing sessions were held in the conference room to discuss topics related to the present status of the metaverse and its future.

In his opening speech, Masahiro Ajisawa, president of Facebook Japan (Meta Japan), spoke about the potential of the metaverse and the aims of holding the expo.

“The metaverse of Meta (formerly Facebook) is about co-creation and cannot be created by one company alone. We want to make this expo a place to promote the metaverse from Japan to the world and a place for co-creation where companies and creators who lead the metaverse can gather. For co-creation, we believe it is important to work on the development of the metaverse through public-private partnerships.”

“Interest in AR and VR is high, and there are many companies developing digital content worldwide. Among them, we see Japan as one of the most important markets. Starting with the already booming games sector, the metaverse will be used in various fields, such as business, education and medicine. We can expect further development in the future.”

(This article was originally written in Japanese by Yuichi Yamagishi. The English translation was complied and edited by Kit Lai.)