“An Orange team has been dedicated to the metaverse for more than five years”

Le Journal du Net is a partner of the Mastercard Innovation Forum 2022, scheduled for December 8 in Paris. On this occasion, Karine Dussert-Sarthe, executive vice president of Orange, will explain the challenges the metaverse represents for the group.

Karine Dussert-Sarthe, executive vice president of Orange. © Orange

JDN. You will speak on 8 December during a round table entitled “Metaverse, fashion or a real opportunity for brands?”. You stand in favor of technology. How does the metaverse represent a real opportunity for Orange?

Karine Dussert-Sarthe. At Orange, we believe that the metaverse is not just a fad, but a revolution as important as the use of video on mobile devices. It is a serious use, which brings together an important ecosystem, but everything has yet to be invented to give it shape. Since there is not a single metaverse, the latter is pluriform. It is therefore the right time to take up the topic and understand how to best meet consumer expectations. Orange is working on the subject, in particular with the GSMA, to reflect on the possibilities and establish itself as a major player in this field on the world stage.

What are the main metaverse challenges for the group?

There are two main axes that Orange needs to work on. The first obviously concerns the network. As an operator, Orange must offer access to this immersive technology, networks will therefore have to be sized for the uses of the metaverse. This means having good traffic capacity and low latency. We have seen it with augmented reality, if there is a delay between movement and adaptation of the virtual environment, the experience does not work (some users feel nauseous, ed). Two types of connectivity will be the pillars of the metaverse: fiber at home and 5G on the go. According to our assumptions, the virtual world will overlap the real world. For example, while walking around the city, a user will be able to see virtual elements appear, thanks to objects such as contact lenses but no longer via smartphone. We collaborate with various market players, mainly American because they are more advanced in the field, to make the networks adaptable to the future needs of customers.

As for the second axis …

Everything remains to be invented in the metaverse. Our challenge is therefore, I repeat, to understand what consumers want. We have conducted a study with our clients, of which I will be able to give some data during the conference. I can already tell you that 40% of customers believe that the metaverse will be essential in their lives in 2030. Generation Z, fans of video games, will strongly occupy the terrain of the metaverse, by more than a third. This is a significant number, so we need to look at their experiences in the metaverse. This technology will help strengthen the bonds between the brand and consumers. We already have bricks, like chatbots, the next step will be to transpose them into the metaverse.

What resources has Orange invested in the metaverse to address these challenges?

A team has been dedicated to this topic for more than five years, with experts studying future uses and their impact on the network. We also invested in early 2021 in an American fund specializing in virtual reality, which gives us access to immersive start-ups that are accelerated there. We also have a first immersive experience available from February 2022. This is a projection showing the Notre-Dame Cathedral for 45 minutes, from its construction to the fire. Visitors can walk around the 200 square meters of the projection site in La Défense on their own, see the other participants around them as they watch the projection. This experience is now possible by having participants carry a backpack for operational data processing in edge computing. The challenge tomorrow will be to carry out this operation in micro data centers. We are working to go further and offer a new experience during the 2024 Olympics.

A HEC graduate, Karine Dussert-Sarthe is executive vice president of Orange and leads the group’s marketing, design and open innovation teams. She was appointed in September 2019, having held executive positions in several companies, including Telstra, SFR, Match Group and Orange France. Within Orange Innovation, Karine Dussert-Sarthe and her teams are actively working for the 26 countries of the Orange Group on the products and services of tomorrow. In particular, her team is focused on the uses of tomorrow around diving and the metaverse, made possible by 5G connectivity and fiber, but also on the new generation of home services. Karine Dussert-Sarthe is also responsible for open innovation and acceleration of start-ups within the Orange group.

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