Digital twin software creator Cyprès International is expanding into the Luxembourg metaverse where it will be the first landscape architecture service provider. Company co-founder and civil engineer Jean-Yves Marie explains.
Jess Bauldry: BIM-Y is the first partner of Luxembourg metaverse The Duchy, which is expected to officially launch at the end of June. What was the appeal?
Jean-Yves Marie: My co-partner and landscape architect, Soraya Meftah, and I created Cyprès International in 2013 as a landscape architecture company. We stopped this activity to create BIM-Y, software for the construction industry. In this metaverse project, we will return to landscape architecture, using our design experience to create the landscape for customers who buy land in the metaverse.
What kinds of landscape features are we talking about here?
We have partnered with Mathias Keune (VR entrepreneur who created The Duchy) to create a fountain, a swimming pool, some flowers or a tree, which people can buy in the Luxembourg metaverse to put on their land. Plus, we can provide the services to design all the land to have a coherence between the landscape and to create a beautiful environment.
How can people see your designs? Will you have a virtual shop, or a showcase?
Mathias gave us a piece of land to design. I want to create a design that reflects our environmental focus, to try to send a message about climate change.
What is the business case for becoming a service provider in the metaverse?
There are maybe two main attractions. The market is here and a lot of companies buy a piece of land at a high cost. They need people to design an environment well. We can take advantage by being the first in the market. Also, we want to develop BIM-Y. We stopped doing landscape architecture in 2017. Now we can combine our experience in 3D and in landscaping. So, it’s also a big opportunity.
What is the attraction of The Duchy over other metaverses out there like Decentraland?
The others are not so polished. They tend to look more like old-fashioned video games. But the result of The Duchy will be better.
“I think we have a big wave now. Some metaverses will crash, because of the business model or bad quality. Then we will have a new metaverse.”
To what extent do you think that Luxembourg businesses are ready for a local metaverse?
When I talk about the metaverse with my friends, they tell me that they don’t know what it is. They think it’s a virtual world where people can play, like a video game. But, I think the metaverse has a deeper philosophy. It can bring about a new kind of democracy. If we consider an open metaverse, ie not managed by a company like Facebook or Google, the rules are established by the code. To change the rules you need to ask everyone in the metaverse, and you have to have a vote. So, you can have different kinds of democracies.
There has been some criticism of metaverses: the environmental impact of building and sustaining these worlds, the health impact on users and the financial impact. How do you respond to metaverse critics?
I think the metaverse is the next generation of the internet. When we started with the internet, it was very slow, there was not a lot of content and it was very amateur. With metaverses, I feel that I am returning to my past and discovering a new internet. It’s a new way of communicating, visiting or sharing something. Regarding the environmental cost, the metaverse is just at the beginning. We can improve this technology to reduce the environmental impact. Also consider that if you organise a meeting for 2,000 people in the metaverse, you can reduce the carbon footprint from all the participants who don’t need to travel by plane or train to go to the venue. We can save a lot of emissions too.
You compare metaverses to the evolution of the internet. What will it take for these virtual worlds to gain the same kind of foothold in consumer’s lives?
It’s a question of time. The technology we use now, the big glasses, is not comfortable. In future, they will create lighter glasses and the technology will become more integrated. It’s just a question of time.
How much time do you estimate?
I think 10-20 years. At the beginning of the internet there was a big wave and then the bubble exploded. I think it’s the same phenomenon. We’ve a big wave now. The first virtual land will have some problems. Last year, a woman was sexually assaulted inside the Metaverse, for example, and Facebook created a safety feature around the avatar. It’s like the wild west. I think we have a big wave now. Some metaverses will crash, because of the business model or bad quality. Then we will have a new metaverse.
What will it take to get more companies on board embracing metaverses?
It’s too early to have a commercial use of the metaverses. Right now companies are buying land to see what will happen. For now, if a big company wants to do it, it is because they want to surf the wave.