Bringing the Metaverse to Latin America: Opportunities in Mining, Healthcare, and Defense

Even as Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse faces challenges and mixed reviews, demand is rising overall for software applications that replicate real life.

Companies across industries are recognizing the power of simulation technology for training, engineering, R&D, and more, particularly when enhanced by advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), digital twins, and 3D printing. In fact, Precedence Research forecasts 11.8% compound annual growth for this sector and a global market of over $40 billion by 2030.

While North America currently dominates the global market for simulation technology, we believe internationally focused businesses should broaden their view. Latin America has a powerful, and often underrated, technology sector. We’ve written about the region’s leadership in ecommerce, emerging fintech industry, and rapid digital adoption.

Could simulation software be a natural fit, and the next market opportunity?

Read on for an exploration across three key sectors.

Potential in the mining sector

Mining is a highly complex, dangerous, and capital-intensive business, making it an ideal candidate for simulation solutions. Mining companies can use simulations for training or implement simulator equipment onto underground loaders, trucks, drills, and bolters to improve operator performance and safety.

Indeed, such tools have been shown to generate significant gains in time savings and reductions in machine abuse. Moreover, solutions have evolved with the times. The PRO5 mining simulator by Immersive Technologies, for example, incorporates stereoscopic 3D, photo-realistic graphics, and RealView head-tracking technology.

How is simulation technology being used in Latin America? Los Broncos Mine in Chile was using simulator-based training as early as 2015. In efforts to close performance gaps for equipment operators, it reported a 62% reduction in service brake abuse and a 60% reduction in overspeeds.

This is just one example in an entrenched and sizable industry. Ample opportunity may exist throughout the region, from the gold mines of Brazil and copper mines of Chile to enterprises in the evolving Lithium Triangle.

Simulation solutions in health care

By giving medical professionals the opportunity to practice tasks in real-world scenarios, simulation solutions offers opportunities to improve care team competence and confidence, increase patient safety, and reduce costs.

In 2018, the School of Nursing of the Universidad de Costa Rica became home to Latin America’s mobile simulation training center, offering students and health practitioners the chance to hone their skills, risk-free, on procedures for labor and delivery, life support, and pediatric support. Four years later, global eye care nonprofit Orbis International brought health care professionals from Bolivia, Chile, and Peru to the United States for two weeks of training at the UC Davis Health Center for Simulation and Education Enhancement.

A 2021 survey reported over 400 simulation centers operating in the Latin American health sciences sector. Primarily located in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico and university-based, most are smaller operations, with 10 or fewer instructors. The University of Mexico’s Faculty of Medicine is an exception, performing more than 2,500 simulation practices each year. The Mexican Association for Clinical Simulation has promoted the research, development, and application of simulation technology since 2007.

The Latin American market for medical simulators is expected to grow, especially with the rise of healthcare apps and multidisciplinary approaches to care. One forecast predicts a CAGR of 11.92% from 2022-2027. Yet the high costs associated with this technology and a shortage of experienced professionals may impede adoption.

Simulation solutions for defense

From aircraft cockpit trainers to wargaming centers to interactive ship bridge simulators, military simulation and training solutions abound, with more and more of these solutions equipped with AI, machine learning, and sophisticated modeling and data analytics.

Simulation solutions check a number of boxes for defense organizations. They enable troops to train safely across disparate locations on cutting-edge equipment with reduced wear and tear. It’s a multi-billion market projected to grow even more, by a CAGR of 9.1% between now and 2029.

Yet the digital battlefield, and funding for it, could play out a bit differently in Latin America than in other parts of the world. “In 2021, South American militaries remained focused on domestic security threats,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) wrote.

If defense organizations are more likely to use simulation technology for something like counternarcotics training, what might this spending look like? “In 2022, the increasing fiscal strains exacerbated by the current coronavirus pandemic are likely to negatively impact governments’ mid- to long-term defense investments and domestic security policies.”

What will 2023 bring? It seems that factors like politics and the economy may shape spending, and simulation’s prospects, here.

Simulation expertise within and outside of Latin America

If you’re ready to start exploring technology partnerships, there are a number of firms to consider in the simulation, AR, and VR space, from giants like Snap and Nvidia to specialists like Immersive Technologies and Sandvick in the mining sector. Latin America has a homegrown ecosystem of developers to draw from, such as Treeview in Montevideo,  Next Latinoamerica S.A.C. in Lima, and Immersys in Mexico City.

China will also be shaping the landscape, in terms of both market access and the technology itself.  After a VR bubble in the mid-2010s and Huawei’s launch of VR glasses at the end of the decade, China may be moving toward a greater virtual reality presence. TikTok owner ByteDance has acquired Pico, a leading VR headset manufacturer. Alibaba has invested millions into augmented reality company Nreal, and on November 1, the Chinese government released its plan to ship 25 million virtual reality devices over the next four years.

Ready to get started? Specialized consultants and advisors can help you explore opportunities in the simulation market, in Latin America and beyond. For more information, contact us.