From building mountains and skyscrapers in Minecraft, to communicating with international colleagues, the metaverse is changing the fabric of the virtual world.
Technologists and digital experts shared insights and their own experiences of navigating and creating digital dimensions during the Synapse Summit event at Amalie Arena Thursday.
St. Pete Catalyst publisher and Metacity Head of Network Joe Hamilton joined Jason Warnke, Accenture’s senior managing director and global digital experiences lead, and Kyle Morrand, CEO of 302 Interactive, to break down the emerging metaverse world.
Here are some highlights of the Metaverse: That’s so Meta panel the technologists and entrepreneurs presented:
The quotes have been edited for clarity.
On creating a metaverse campus: “We were piloting mixed-reality for the past several years, but it wasn’t until over the last year we found a relative use case that it prompted us to go buy 60,000 Oculus headsets for our people to start the journey into how we could create an omni-connected experience. The relative use case was, Accenture hires over 100,000 people a year. We would bring people to physical locations and understand what Accenture was all about and meet leaders – we couldn’t do that anymore nor do we think that will happen again. When we bring people to Accenture now, we bring them to One Accenture Park, our metaverse inside Accenture. As distributed as Accenture is, we never had one big campus. If we had this virtual campus, whether you are in Amsterdam or London, where you could interact with your colleagues. At the time, we were working closely with Microsoft and AltspaceVR to developed “The Nth Floor,” our virtual campus. Since six months ago, we had 44,000 people on board at Accenture through the One Accenture Park. The park for us creates this virtual space that you go into with a headset or computer.” – Warnke
On understanding elements of a metaverse: “Metacity [a next-generation Web3 social operating system] is not immersive. So I’m coming at this from a different angle – a community angle. The metaverse allows you to imagine a community and build it from scratch. Anyone who aligns with your vision can opt in. That community will exist in a persistent state. That means when you log out, life still goes on in the Metaverse. When you’ll return you’ll experience all the changes others may have made in your absence. Another important element is portability, which is where NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and blockchain come into play. Just like you don’t leave all your clothes and belongings at the door when you leave a physical space, you’ll keep your digital assets and bring them to different places in the Metaverse. A Metaverse is the logical leap forward for websites. That term Metaverse is the equivalent to the internet and worlds will be the equivalent of websites – each individually created for a unique experience like a website gives you today.” – Hamilton
On the human interactions: “We found in terms of learning, the Accenture Park retention is much higher than normal forms of learning even more so than going to a physical training location. The retention is higher because of that shared experience. I experienced it myself. As you go through the world about the different aspects of different technologies and our company, it’s an incredible way to take away a learning moment. We are using it as a tool to practice how to deliver feedback to people and how to work with difficult clients. You can put yourself in a safe environment with an AI bot and practice how to give tough feedback to an employee.” – Warnke.
“I’ve been interested in the human experience and technology. Our relationship with technology is flat. We live in a spacial world with all of these dimensions and then we have this flat relationship with tech. The advantage of having this tech is building a more natural experience. It’s not about bringing dragons into the world or having whales popping out of the floor [he chuckled]. It’s about capturing that natural feeling of engaging with people. Four or five years ago, virtual reality was this big clunky headset and it’s still this big clunky headset, and technologists are trying to make that tech smaller and more accessible.” – Morrand
On building the public’s comfort level: “This morning, we hosted an event at Accenture Park and although several employees are familiar with the process, most of them are not. So leading up to this event, we had to provide the white-glove service by enabling the headsets, the right connectivity and navigation. It took a lot to get someone into a meeting. Just like any other technology, that process will get better. The tech is the easy part. Getting people to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together is the more critical component.” – Warnke
“For Metacity, I call it a digital overlay for a physical city. Local artists can have a gallery in their local Metacity and sell NFTs, which will be ported to the buyer’s homespace to be displayed. This helps unlock the value of the art through increased exposure, it gives the buyer pride in displaying their purchase and it lifts up the art scene for the city. This is all new civic
win made possible by the Metaverse.” – Hamilton
Additional takeaways: The panelists recommend that an interested metaverse user may want to start exploring platforms such as Minecraft and others to be able to absorb the experience as a learning launch point.