Companies from Japan and abroad are showcasing next-generation business tools related to the metaverse -- a virtual world in which people can work, shop and socialize -- at Japan's major electronics show that opened to the media Monday.
The annual show, which will be open to the public from Tuesday through Friday at Makuhari Messe convention center near Tokyo, was held online in the previous two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meta Platforms Inc., which owns the Facebook social networking service, is demonstrating its Horizon Workrooms metaverse service that enables participants wearing virtual reality headsets to hold business meetings in the form of their avatars in various virtual settings such as a seaside suite and a classroom.
The company, which changed its name last year to focus on the metaverse, says the virtual sphere is not limited to games and entertainment.
"We see a big potential for the business application of the metaverse," Taeko Morimura, head of communications in the company's Japan unit, said. "We hope many people get to experience how it can be used for business through our product."
Toppan Inc., a major Japanese printing company, has built a virtual showroom in the metaverse in which people can see different colors and the details of materials used in cars and homes as if they were in a real showroom.
Takashi Suzuki, head of Toppan's metaverse business division, said the company has a competitive advantage in virtual showrooms because it has accumulated a wealth of product data through making product catalogs for various firms.
"We can recreate their products in the metaverse. That's our strength," Suzuki said. "We want to go beyond business-to-business and approach ordinary consumers, too."
Tokyo-based digital advertising company Bascule Inc. is offering a VR headset tour around the International Space Station recreated in the metaverse with the cooperation of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
"We want to integrate what is real and what is virtual," Rumiko Nango, a producer at the company, said about the tour. "The metaverse enables you to go to places where you don't usually have access."
Green technology is another popular theme at the electronics show, with Sony Group Corp. displaying its Vision-S electric vehicle. The company says it is seeking ways to utilize renewable energy that is locally generated and transmitted through microgrids to power its vehicles in the future.
Sharp Corp. is exhibiting a next-generation solar panel that has twice the power generation efficiency for indoor lighting compared with current products.
A total of 562 companies and organizations are participating in the event this year, including 146 from 27 countries and regions, the organizer said.