MinebeaMitsumi MEMS Room

MEMS for Expanding Possibilities for the Metaverse

Compact, high-performance MEMS is expected to be used in a wide range of fields, and the scope of its use is expected to expand further in coming years. One such field is the “metaverse” market. The metaverse has been a buzzword in recent years, and its market is rapidly expanding, not only in the gaming and entertainment fields, but also for e-commerce sites and telework. This section presents an overview of the metaverse, application examples, and the role of MEMS in the metaverse.

What Is a Metaverse?

Metaverse refers to a 3D virtual space, and is a term coined by combining “meta,” meaning transcendence, and “universe,” meaning world, and first appeared in an American science fiction novel published in 1992. In the metaverse, by creating and controlling an avatar, which is an alter ego of oneself, one can act freely and interact with others in a virtual space while still in the real world. In other words, the metaverse is a community where people who are far away from each other in the real world can live socially in the same virtual space on the Internet. However, since there is no unified definition of the metaverse at this time, we are still in the process of exploring the rules, standards, and how it will be used.

Contact Us

XR and Its Deep Ties to the Metaverse

XR (X reality/cross reality/extended reality) is a term that also appears when talking about metaverse. Whereas the metaverse refers to virtual space, XR is a collective term for the technologies that provide new experiences, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and substitutional reality (SR). Gaming and services that combine these technologies are also referred to as XR. An overview of each term is as follows.

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR stands for virtual reality. Using a dedicated device such as a head-mounted display, users can experience a virtual world as if it were the real world. Since VR space is a complete virtual space different from the real world, it has been used mainly in the field of entertainment due to its high affinity with games. Recently, the scope of its use has expanded considerably to include travel and occupational experiences. Also, because virtual spaces can be experienced together and are compatible with the metaverse, the metaverse is often associated with VR.

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR stands for augmented reality, which is a technology that superimposes a virtual space on the real world. For example, by launching an application that utilizes the camera function of a smartphone, it is possible to make game characters appear in the real world or display a guide map of tourist attractions. Uses of this AR technology are growing even more rapidly than VR. For example, in the retail industry, AR technology is used in services that allow users to select furniture on an app and virtually place it in their room by simply holding their smartphone over the room area.

Mixed Reality (MR)

MR refers to a technology that fuses reality with the virtual world. While AR only projects virtual information in real space, MR enables direct manipulation of virtual information objects projected in the real world and simultaneous experience by multiple people. It is characterized by the interactive influence from the real world to the virtual space and from the virtual space to the real world. Also, while AR can be easily experienced using a smartphone, MR, like VR, requires a dedicated device.

Substitutional Reality (SR)

SR stands for substitutional reality, which is a technology that projects images of reality captured in the past onto the present world. Using a head-mounted display, users can experience past events as if they were happening now, in a space where real and past objects exist simultaneously. Although there are few examples of practical applications at this time (as of February 2023), the technology is being considered for use in realistic horror experiences, psychotherapy, and driving simulators that will be more realistic than ever before.

Not all of these technologies are essential to experiencing the metaverse. However, by using XR technology, we can become more immersed in the virtual space and enjoy a new way of communication that is different from the real world.

Contact Us

Background for Growing Attention on Metaverse

The service that would pioneer the metaverse was created in the 2000s. Similar to the metaverse that is growing in popularity today, users were able to communicate with others in virtual space, buy and sell land and conduct business activities within the virtual space, and even enjoy events such as live broadcasts.
However, at the time, the network infrastructure was still inadequate, and high-spec PCs were required to enjoy this service, so it was only a small space that only a few people could enjoy and did not take root.

Today, with the advances in technological innovations, each person now owns a smartphone, which is no less powerful than the high-spec PCs of the time. Moreover, with the spread of the 5th generation mobile communication system 5G and gigabit communications becoming the norm, a communication infrastructure capable of high-speed, high-capacity, low-latency, and simultaneous connection of many people is being established. This has created an environment that can support tens of thousands of people accessing a single virtual space at the same time. In addition to the spread of crypto assets such as virtual currency, it can be said that changes in social conditions, such as travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with technological advances have increased the recognition and interest in the metaverse.

Contact Us

Fields of Metaverse Applications

In the gaming field, platforms that allowed large numbers of people to gather in the same space were established early on and have been regarded as pioneers in the utilization of the metaverse. This approach is now gradually spreading to the commercial world, including e-commerce and entertainment. This section presents some examples of applications in various fields.

E-commerce (EC)

The metaverse is attracting attention from companies as a place for new business opportunities, and an increasing number of companies are setting up virtual stores in the metaverse. In a virtual store, you can purchase items not only in the metaverse, but also in the real world. Some platforms allow shoppers to move between floors as if they were in a department store so that people can enjoy shopping as if it were real without having to go out.

With chat functions and avatars of store staff to provide customer service, this unprecedented e-commerce experience is expected to become a new sales channel for both companies and users.


The entertainment sector has recently seen rapidly growing use of the metaverse, as events and concerts were cancelled and facilities were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of a robust telecommunications infrastructure, as typified by the 5G mentioned before, has also helped to bring a variety of events to the Internet, such as virtual live performances and virtual museums.
For example, virtual concerts can now offer unprecedented experiences, such as multiple stages that allow multiple events to be held simultaneously and chat functions for fans to chat with each other, while virtual museums can provide multilingual support and allow large numbers of people to view exhibits simultaneously.

It also creates new experiential value where both reality and the metaverse are closely intertwined. For example, efforts are underway to create a space that reproduces a real city, allowing for simulated sightseeing and events that can only be held in a virtual space.
Also, a fashion show held in the metaverse space distributed digital data clothing that could be used for avatars and sold clothing and accessories that could be picked up at real stores.
The ability to cross over between the real and virtual worlds in this way is one of the most exciting aspects of the metaverse.


The use of the metaverse has existed since the early stages in the field of gaming. These games resembled a type of metaverse because they allowed users to live a life similar to that of the real world by controlling an avatar, growing crops, and interacting with others in a virtual space.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), in which multiple players simultaneously participate and cooperate to complete the game, is also considered to have elements of a metaverse because players can communicate with each other through their avatars. The market is full of wide range of games related to the metaverse.

In recent years, these games have been drawing new attention for their use beyond the framework of games, such as spontaneous events among users.

Development of New Businesses

The metaverse has not only expanded existing markets such as e-commerce, entertainment, and gaming, but has also created completely new experiences that were previously unimaginable, such as sightseeing and virtual offices from the comfort of your own home.
The security of transactions in the metaverse space is also being strengthened by cryptocurrencies/virtual currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) due to advances in blockchain technology. This has increased the value of the metaverse as a space with its own economic sphere, and various business possibilities are expected in the future.

Contact Us

Devices Enhancing Immersion in the Metaverse

The use of XR devices, including head-mounted displays, can enhance immersion in the metaverse space and help make the experience more comfortable. However, many of the XR devices currently on the market are large, heavy, and can easily lead to VR sickness. MEMS technology is attracting growing attention as a solution to these problems.

Toward More User-friendly XR Devices

In addition to goggle-type head-mounted displays, XR devices also include eyeglasses-type wearable devices. In order to make them more comfortable and easier to use, devices such as head-mounted displays used in VR and MR are becoming smaller and lighter, and for AR, research on eyeglasses-type wearable devices is being conducted.

MEMS technology, which is based on semiconductor manufacturing technology, is being used in many for these devices to make them smaller. The use of MEMS makes it possible to miniaturize sensors and add new functions.
For example, the external sensors that were necessary to enjoy conventional VR and MR have been eliminated and built into the device itself, resulting in a lighter and more compact device. Also, in the past, dedicated devices were required to enjoy VR, AR, and MR. However, there are now devices that allow users to enjoy multiple XR worlds with a single headset. This is another benefit of the use of MEMS.

Sensors that Reproduce the Five Human Senses

To further enhance the sense of immersion in the metaverse, sensors that reproduce the five senses are also being developed. Gloves that convey realistic tactile stimulation have a wide range of potential possibilities, not only in the metaverse, but also in assisting people with disabilities and astronauts in the real world.
In addition to vision, hearing, and touch, research on taste and smell has also advanced, and sensors that can reproduce these senses at a level very close to reality are now available. Compact and highly sensitive MEMS play a key role and are essential for these sensors.

Sensors that reproduce the human senses are expected to be applied not only in the metaverse but also in various industrial fields, and the importance of MEMS is expected to grow further in coming years.

Contact Us

The Future of Metaverse and MEMS

In October 2021, the changing of Facebook’s company name to Meta Platforms made headlines around the world. Not only the company Meta, but also companies and local governments are eagerly looking forward to building a new world, and we are seeing more and more entry into the metaverse and greater focus of R&D resources to the metaverse.

For the metaverse to become another reality and become more widely adopted, advances in the devices and supporting technologies are absolutely essential. Increasingly, MEMS technology is being utilized in devices for experiencing the metaverse and is contributing to the miniaturization and higher performance of these devices. It is expected that MEMS will play an even greater role in the further evolution and development of devices related to the metaverse in coming years.

Contact Us

Page Top