“Diversity and inclusion should be key foundations of any Metaverse app,” says Hina Dixit, Metaverse Investor, SamsungNext

Hina Dixit Currently leads AI and Metaverse investments at SamsungNext. She previously led a team at Apple for eight years in projects for security, cloud, AI and data integrity. She holds several patents through her work at Apple.

She is also an angel investor in EventTow, an AI/AR-based app for booking event management services, and Aryahi Inc, which focuses on no-code solutions.

Hina will be speaking at the upcoming CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) annual Global Knowledge Summit. The 17th edition of the summit will be held in a hybrid format in Bangalore and online on April 12-13, with the theme Knowledge management and metaverse.

As a media partner of the Global Knowledge Summit, see Your story preview article from the 2022 edition here, and coverage of the 2021, 2020 and 2019 editions.

In this conversation with Your storyHina talks about metaverse ecosystem trends, innovative startups and opportunities for India.

Hina Dixit

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Your story [YS]: Immersive media and blockchain have been around for a while – what’s new about the metaverse concept? How would you debunk the hype and misconceptions surrounding it?

Hina Dixit [HD]: During the pandemic, people ended up spending a lot more time in front of screens. We started to miss the real-life experience, which created a space of problems for the tech giants to solve.

Consumers’ minds also changed and were more eager to try new virtual experiences to find a semblance of their pre-COVID-19 life. This accelerated efforts to achieve the ultimate vision of Metaverse, which was originally invented in 1992 by neal stephenson in his novel Snowfall.

I tend to pursue the metaverse from Jon Radoff’s larger view that a metaverse is an environment in which real-world limitations attributed to physical space, objects, and time are dematerialized.

This perception keeps our Metaverse approach more holistic and grounded and helps us demystify the hype.

[YS]: In the context of organizational learning and knowledge assets, what contributions does the metaverse make?

[HD]: Learning should be active and not passive, which implies that the approach to education should be more creative and engaging. Metaverse can provide creative tools for teachers and students.

For example, a very boring class in the story can be energized by a virtual visit to museums and historical sites. When teaching the laws of physics, a virtual reality simulation can allow students to experiment safely while they are in the classroom.

Learning occurs best when the play activity has a well-articulated learning objective, whether in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), literacy, or “learning to learn” skills like memory, attention, and flexible thinking.

The Metaverse can take learning and creativity to the next level, as distractions can be avoided in a simulated environment.

[YS]: What are the three most innovative apps you’ve seen in the Metaverse?

[HD]: I will name some of the key pieces of infrastructure that are key to building the metaverse from our holding companies.

Alchemy makes blockchain/Web3 development easy with just one line of magic code. The sandbox is a virtual world where gamers can build, own and monetize their gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain using the $SAND utility token.

Proof of Learning, Inc (POL) is a Web3 educational platform whose mission is to unlock accessible, high-quality education across the world through blockchain and a learning protocol.

[YS]: What are the risks and challenges involved in the metaverse, from a consumer rights perspective?

[HD]: Some of the risks may be user data privacy.

As the metaverse is designed and implemented, there must be an intentional effort to engage people from marginalized communities in meaningful leadership and decision making roles to ensure that all users feel safe and valued when participating in these environments.

Diversity and inclusion should be essential foundations of any Metaverse application. As the metaverse grows, privacy laws and lawmakers will need to push for user security and privacy.

With the power of companies providing federated learning like DynamoFL, companies can train AI models without sharing the data with anyone. My advice to early Metaverse developers is to design their applications with user privacy in mind and have a compliance strategy to implement consumer data rights, including biometric privacy laws.

[YS]: How can large corporations and startups collaborate for mutual benefit in the metaverse opportunity?

[HD]: Various companies from different verticals can come together to create new experiences for their consumers.

For example, Lego and epic games recently announced a joint partnership to create a kid-focused metaverse. Likewise, new markets can be explored by these joint ventures to provide new experiences and add value to consumers’ daily lives.

[YS]: What is your advice for the public on how to progress along the metaverse deployment maturity curve?

[HD]: My advice to the public would be to keep an eye on technology and plan for interactions, not just transactions.

Even if your company has in-house developers and 3D modelers, there is no doubt that creating a metaverse is a huge challenge that could take years. This is especially true if your developers and designers have no previous VR experience and haven’t built app ecosystems on a similar scale.

With this in mind, you can choose to work with partners for this type of need. This way, work is done faster and your internal staff is free to focus on other activities. Not to mention that development partners often have much stronger experience and technical capabilities than anyone you host.

[YS]: At the societal level, will the metaverse trigger a new form of digital divide? How can this be overcome?

[HD]: I think from an access point of view. If we completely envision the metaverse as a virtual experience, it could worsen digital inequalities by creating an even greater barrier for people who may already be digitally excluded.

Many people don’t have Internet access or sufficient knowledge of the Internet. This divide can be overcome by building better network connectivity infrastructure, creating transparent and easy-to-use hardware, and also adding some of the IT prerequisites in the classrooms.

[YS]: What are India’s unique opportunities, strengths and challenges in the metaverse space?

[HD]: India’s “Make In India” has opened doors for foreign investors and companies to build hardware and software for Metaverse in India.

The global metaverse market size is expected to reach USD 678.8 billion by 2030. In addition, the consumption of india video and gaming streaming has been growing at a blistering pace, with reports suggesting the Indian gaming market will more than triple to $7 billion by 2026.

Metaverse could provide a rare opportunity worth billions of dollars for the Indian economy, especially for India’s recovery film and game industryas users become familiar with cryptocurrency, augmented/virtual reality, and blockchain.

[YS]: What are the next steps in your metaverse journey at SamsungNext?

[HD]: My goal is to find more startups that focus on seamless immersive user experience, driving innovations in XR and gaming. I also focus on the problematic space where Metaverse meets AI and Web3.

This also includes commercial or technical activities. innovation that cleverly adds the promises of Web3 (decentralization, ownership, agency, identity) into gaming, XR, or the creator economy, including automating content creation.

I am constantly on the lookout for new startups focused on solving these problems.

[YS]: What are the emerging trends at the frontier of the metaverse?

[HD]: Many cool startups are working on building the infrastructure of the Metaverse using Web3. In addition, there has been a recent increase in Creator creators’ tools and economy.

[YS]: Any other parting remarks for our audience?

[HD]: If you are a startup founder and fundraising in the Metaverse or AI space, feel free to contact me at LinkedIn! I am also open to advisory roles and serving as a member of the Board of Directors.