Perspectives on the metaverse are as varied as the platforms themselves. Some see the metaverse as just another technology fad. Others, including one of the world’s most valuable companies, believe the metaverse will revolutionize how we connect and engage online.
It is important for us as communicators to approach new technologies with a healthy mix of skepticism and optimism. Rather than discount them outright, consider innovative technology a call to action. One where it is our job to take that leap of faith so we can understand how and if the solution fits within our work.
That is why we brought together a select group of 20-plus B2B marketing and communications professionals to explore, test and experience the metaverse first-hand. Using Meta’s Horizon Workrooms as our platform of choice, we ‘entered’ the metaverse to uncover what the excitement is all about.
Our primary objective for the gathering was to provide a shared metaverse experience for our group of communications pros. We wanted to equip them with knowledge they could take back to their organization and prepare them for conversations we are all soon to have.
The first step was to create our virtual meeting room. Workrooms offered a variety of pre-built options for the ‘space,’ which we could then brand with the Arketi logo, posters and other creative assets. Since the product is still in development, it was a plug-and-play experience.
Once created, we provided our attendees with step-by-step instructions on how to join our Workroom and experience the metaverse.
Users can join Horizon Workrooms’ metaverse from either their browser or an Oculus virtual reality headset. The Oculus offers users an immersive 3D experience, complete with handheld remotes and infrared lasers to track your body’s posture and movements. Browser-based users, on the other hand, were restricted to a standard 2D environment.
Those who joined us from their desktop were treated with a familiar sight: a checkerboard of webcam streams similar to any video conference. Front and center, however, were two new windows. One with a view into our metaverse workroom where each Oculus users’ avatar sat in the virtual space, plus a second window for any content or presentations being displayed.
On the flip side, VR users were treated to a similar display of each attendee’s webcam that hovered within the virtual space. We shared a brief history of the metaverse using a PowerPoint presentation and then discussed use cases for the technology. A few possibilities included:
Our greatest challenge throughout the event was the hardware. The headsets were not particularly comfortable after extended wear, and by the end of our hour-long discussion, we were more than ready to ‘return to reality.’
And while the software is in beta, it was impressive to bring together a remote group so quickly and easily – especially with minimal background or training. If you think of this as the bare minimum for what metaverses are capable of, the possibilities are endless.
As one of our attendees pointed out, “Rather than moving our current conference calls into VR, we need to think about new immersive experiences this technology can enable and change the way we seek to collaborate, sell, or simply engage with colleagues and customers alike.”
Think of our event as a call to action for us as communicators and marketers to explore, test and experience the metaverse first-hand. The use cases for this technology are vast, and the greatest opportunity will come from those not even thought of yet. It’s our job to create and test those ideas.
In the words of global consulting firm Accenture, “The time is now to think big, start small and scale fast.”
This article originally appeared in PRSA Strategies & Tactics
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