The Meataverse is coming and will mean a massive shift in how we deliver content to our audiences. I am reminded of what it felt like in the early 2000’s when companies like Apple were launching smart phone technology. Here was a device and a platform that would revolutionize how we all thought of the internet. No longer was the internet a thing you could access solely from a large machine in your living room or office, but the small device was a portal to the web in your pocket.
The Metaverse promises to take that a step further not only offering you and your audiences a portal to view what is out there, but a literal doorway into a new world where you can immerse yourself.
And the change is coming faster than you think. In a recent post by Alan Smithson, CEO of MetaVRse, Alan stated an interesting statistic. A poll by PPTTOW, surveying global executives during the announcement of the name change of Facebook to Meta, 43% of the executives stated that the Metaverse was going to be a big part of the strategy for 2022 and beyond, with another 35% stating that they were going to be considering it.
As we look into the future, we want to look at the reality of what the Metaverse can bring for the event world, the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
As experience designers and creators, there is literally a new world to be built. This world will have literally no limits. Want floating screens and 100,000 dancers to wow your audience? No problem. Want your CEO to float in the middle of the room to address the attendees, no problem.
There are unlimited possibilities on how you can present content within a virtual world. Without the limits of physics, you can create tailored experiences that take your audience through a journey in any environment.
There are immense possibilities for presenting and exhibiting your product, services or creativity in a virtual world. Imagine the cost, logistics and difficulty on brining some heavy machinery product to an exhibition across the world, like a new car model. Now imagine creating an immersive environment where potential buyers could visit a testing environment where they could sit in the drivers seat, drive down the autobahn and test drive your new car. This could live in the Metaverse 24-7 with the ability to immerse your potential customers in the experience, while your team looks on, assisting them, telling the story of the brand and inhabiting your new world.
We are not there yet. Adoption of any new technology takes three main factors. Hardware, software and mass adoption. Companies around the world are heavily investing in hardware from the Oculus 2, Vive and Apple’s rumoured new VR headset. However, these are still very expensive and are not selling into the general population as much as these companies would like.
On top of that, there is a limit on the amount of software, apps and platforms that run on this hardware. Meta (Facebook) has recently launched Horizon Spaces to act as a development platform for building new worlds, so time will tell how well that is adopted and how quickly quality content can be developed.
Adoption is not anywhere near what it should be to make significant impact…. Yet. Just like smart phones in the early 2000’s these companies are building for future development. However, the reality is that you probably can count on one hand how many people you know that have a VR headset.
For the event industry that is still trying to recover from the loses due to the pandemic, this can also mean a siphoning off of our traditional audiences. Like the example above, audiences, given the option to stay at home rather than travel to the car show, might mean a reduction in global spend for live events. It will be critical to show how we can integrate these two worlds together.
There are going to be challenges along the way. Just like the proliferation of smart phones and mobile internet devices excellerated the reach of information on a global scale, it also brought some dark consequences. Privacy, representation and over saturation of real, imagined and outright false information is still an issue with a 2D rending of information on current technology. The reality is that we have to be diligent and forthright with how and when this technology is used, protect the data of our audiences and ensure that we have a firm understanding of the responsibility we would hold as creators of these worlds.
It is not unimaginable to think of an online virtual world like that of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, where we could shoose avatars as realistic as we want to represent who we are in real life or, don any “skin” we would like. Unfortunately there will be bad actors out there as much as there are today and false representation will be something we all have to heed going into this new world.
Just like we all did at the beginning of the pandemic and have been doing for the last two years, event professionals will need to adapt to this new technology. If we learned anything from the last 20 months, is that event practitioners do not need to hold on to traditional models to make experiences happen. The advent of a virtual landscape in the form of the Metaverse holds amazing possibilities to create more connections with our audiences and we for one cannot wait to design something truly amazing in this world.