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May 1, 2022

How Did We Get To The Metaverse


The Rise of AR and VR Exploration 

By Bobby Carlton

In 2016, we saw brands, organizations and industries explore how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were being used in the L&D landscape to help improve workflow. In short, companies were immersing participants in a 360° and 3D virtual worlds where they could interact within a digital environment to gain new information and/or work on mastering new skills through an interactive visual and audio experience. 

Example of a 360° video

The technology was also being used to redesign how consumers and B2B partnerships interacted with companies for a more personalized experience that leaned on empathy as the driving force. 

Brands explored the various types of mixed reality experiences available at that time and looked at how those experiences make employees, consumers, and a company more agile in a computer-based world. 

A person using AR and VR was able to fully direct their experiences, choose from multiple pathways, and have physical and emotional engagement that included empathy and risk. The technology was rich with data and allowed the participant to take chances with zero consequences. 

Since then, what has changed? XR technology (AR and VR) has evolved. It’s become more affordable, easier to use, and has become a household item.  

Oculus Quest
For example: The Oculus quest 2 is currently only $299
Image from: https://store.facebook.com/quest/products/quest-2

How people access these experiences has also changed. It’s much easier to jump into a virtual world thanks to WebXR and powerful mobile devices. Organizations, companies and brands were no longer exploring how AR and VR tech will help them. Instead, they embraced AR and VR technology to explore how they can exist as a business and take advantages of the benefits of AR and VR.  

The Rise of AR and VR Adoption 

With the rise of the internet and then the rise of smart devices, we saw how businesses had to shift and adopt these technologies in order to stay relevant and competitive as a business. This was the foundation of the digital industry for business. Access to information and being connected became an important part of being successful. 

As XR technology grew, it became that next wave of accessing information and having a digital presence. We saw how organizations in all industries had successfully turned to XR technology for recruitment, onboarding, training, automation, socializing, and seeking out entertainment. 

Women trying on VR

It improved training stats, streamlined work processes for improved KPI (key performance indicators), it kept employees safe, created longer and more meaningful engagements between consumer and brands, it created a more agile business model and consumer base. More importantly, it had a positive ROI (return on investment) and positive impact on companies overall.  

The Rise of the Metaverse and Digital Twinning 

With XR technology improved, mass adoption growing, and positive date of XR as an important tool for the workforce, education, as well as our day-to-day lives, we saw all of these technologies come together into a seamless immersive experience called the metaverse, a digital realm of worlds where a company, brand, and industry exists as a digital twin in real-time and opens up a world of possibilities.  

The metaverse combines the internet, mobile, AR and VR, plus IoT, AI, computer learning, spatial audio together into a virtual platform that can be accessed through the web, your mobile device, an AR or VR headset, or through wearable technology such as glasses or headphones. 

Like a website on the internet where people go to for information or to purchase services or items. Your digital twin in the metaverse is an extension of your physical business where your processes and procedures, workflow, products, and mission statement exist allowing people to physically interact with your company brand and have a much deeper interaction than a traditional website.  

The metaverse takes the idea of scrolling or clicking through a traditional 2D website, and supercharges it in an interactive and immersive internet experience using 3D digital objects that you can pick up and look at from all sides or walk around. It uses spatial audio to deliver a realistic 360 experience creating sounds that come from all directions. It is a virtual world where your business exists as a digital twin and where you will thrive and be successful in today's digitally connected world. 

Viverse
Image from: RoadToVR

Along with ecommerce, you can use digital twinning for automation, product design and iteration, warehouse management and many other possibilities. 

Accessing the Metaverse 

These digital environments can be accessed through a Head Mounted Display (HMD) such as an HTC Vive or Meta Quest VR headset, but they are not limited to HMDs. Participants can also access the metaverse through WebXR on our laptop or desktop computer or through mobile platforms, as a dedicated phone app, and it can even be an audio experience where the participant is guided through audio cues delivered through earphones or earpods. 

Metaverse experiences enable participants to use hand gestures to grab and hold virtual objects that you can share with others in the virtual environment. While a digital twin can be an individual, a brand, an organization, a social movement, or a mission statement.   

Entering the metaverse

What Are Things Organizations or Industries Can Do in the Metaverse as a Digital Twin? 

  • Interview potential candidates and promote company culture in a way that a phone call or video call can’t do. 
  • Demonstrate products and new ideas in ways in which participants can iterate and design on the fly. 
  • Train employees on a global level with a consistent message. 
  • Create a 3D replica of a process or a real-world facility. 
  • Engage and collaborate with other participants globally in a virtual room. 
  • Create on-the-fly private meeting rooms. 
  • Invite participants and organizations globally to presentations and training. 
  • Show slides and video in virtual rooms. 
  • Host global interactive meetings in a 360˚ virtual environment. 
  • Attend conferences from work/home. 
  • Streamline a task through automation.  

How Does Learning in the Metaverse Succeed? 

The metaverse can be a powerful multi-sensory tool, both psychologically and physically, putting learners into a supercharged digital learning environment where they can experience dangerous scenarios without the risk of actual consequence, but also learn in a personalized environment that they can control and alter. The participant can do things in an immersive learning environment that they cannot do in a real-world learning environment. 

Studies have shown that the retention rate more than doubles when participants acquired new information through an immersive learning environment vs. traditional methods. 

Learning with VR

The data also shows positive results when organizations implement a form of metaverse training in their learning environments. Reduced training times, better performance, faster transfer of skills, and creative thinking are just some of the benefits of this type of learning.  

What Can You Do in the Metaverse? 

Through digital twinning, participants are able to enter a learning environment that they can personalize and control, and where they can do things that aren’t possible in a real-world environment, all while enabling a physical and emotional response with risk and empathy playing a large role in the overall experience. 

Creating a Digital Twin of the Workplace or the Learning Environment Provides Opportunities for Contextual Learning 

Participants are able to: 

  • Move around and explore the immersive environment through “Teleportation.” 
  • Try things in a safe, simulated environment - without real-world consequences. 
  • Manipulate, shrink, and enlarge objects in all directions. 
  • Experience scenarios from multiple perspectives. 
  • Step into an exact replica of a work environment and interact with the environment. 
  • Change their sex and manipulate how they look. 
  • Move freely in the experience and look through panels and walls. 
  • Manipulate the laws of physics. 
  • Interact with an AI. 
  • Collaborate with others around the globe. 

Learners Create Personalized Learning Experiences 

Participants are able to: 

  • Control, direct, and customize the course. 
  • Change their perspective at any time. 
  • Start over and retry an experience. 
  • Change the speed of the course. 
  • Create an experience and share it with others. 
  • Take screenshots or record their experience to share with others. 
  • Remove or add elements to the experience. 

Multiple Pathways Create Multiple Approaches to Learning  

Participants are able to: 

  • Take the test/course multiple times and explore multiple solutions. 
  • Explore different options/solutions with the freedom to fail without risk. 
  • Explore multiple failure scenarios. 
  • Collaborate with other experts. 
  • Explore new ways to be successful without the worry of wasting resources. 

Empathy and Risk Drive Engagement 

Participants are able to: 

  • Feel like they are taking an actual risk and make decisions accordingly. 
  • Experience a situation from the perspective of another person (e.g. someone of the opposite sex, someone with a disability, or someone with a different nationality). This is called the “In Your Shoes” experience.   
  • Understand workplace or location-specific cultural etiquette. 
  • Behave differently than they normally would and experience the effects of those behaviors on themselves and others - without consequences. 

Physical and Emotional Engagement Through Digital Twinning 

Participants are able to: 

  • Experience full physical motion in the real world to navigate a scenario in an immersive environment. 
  • Use hand and facial tracking. 
  • Bring up body temperature and feel tense, causing muscles to tighten up and flex. 
  • Explore different options/solutions with the freedom to fail without risk. 
  • Feel real emotions like fear, excitement, and curiosity. 
  • Walk and run through the use of an omnidirectional treadmill or LBVR (location-based virtual reality). 
  • Feel objects in an immersive environment through haptic feedback wearables. 
  • Smell over different odors through a special sensory mask. 

Storytelling in the Metaverse 

Participants are able to: 

  • Experience scenarios, new techniques and procedures, and prepare for a difficult task without having to worry about failure or use of resources. 
  • Experience a story in a much more dynamic way with ZERO constraints. 
  • Think unconventionally to explore more options and alternate solutions. 
  • React to many elements of a story and, in return, receive more data 
  •  Learn new skills through physical experiences. 
  • Use muscle memory to learn a new skill. 
  • Experience scenarios over and over, in the same or in altered ways. 
  • Be a participant and not an observer. 

Practice and Fail Forward Often 

Participants are able to: 

  • Attempt tasks multiple times.   
  • Fail without risk, which encourages them to explore new solutions and be creative in their pursuit. 
  • Observe a problem, form a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, and continue to try again and again until success is achieved. 
  • Practice and fail forward, allowing them to be creative in their problem solving. This encourages the learner to keep trying. 
  • Seek an alternative approach, one that might prove to be faster or more productive than a previously successful attempt. 

Social Collaboration as a Digital Twin in the Metaverse 

Participants are able to: 

  • Collaborate with another learner or a team - locally or globally - or with artificial intelligence (AI). The collaboration could be examined from every angle and the learner could move freely from team to team in VR. 
  • Complete on-the-fly training when needed. 
  • Open up doors to faster and more productive problem solving. 

The Metaverse is Data-Rich 

Participants are able to: 

  • Compare success and failure rates from different experiences. 
  • Compare productivity of various routes taken. 
  • See a comparison of how they physically reacted in each story or path. 
  • Contribute data to be used for future training with teams, individuals, or on a company-wide level. 

Why You Should Be in the Metaverse 

  • Participants are fully engaged. All of their senses are being pushed to make important choices and reactions based on what they see, hear, and feel. 
  • Explore multiple paths and have physical and emotional engagement, which leads to empathy and a feeling of risk or motivation to complete a task or avoid failure. 
  • React more naturally. With the ability to “alter” storytelling into storyLIVING, the participant will react differently in each situation. 
  • Collaborate with others globally in a virtual environment that feels natural and allows participants to explore, stand, sit, and interact. 
  • Do things they can’t do in the real world. 
  • Keep your employees safe by reducing the risk of accidents through meaningful training. 
  • Establish important connections with people to deliver new business opportunities right to your doorstep.  
  • The metaverse will help your business predict the uncertainties in advance and uncover early warnings of future issues.  
  • Create a platform that is easier for your company and your employees to pivot your ideas. 
  • You can design and iterate new products with your team. 
  • Having a streamlined connection with your audience allows you to adapt to new trends easily and effectively. 
  • The metaverse blends Big Data, AI, ML and Internet of Things to improve the production process within your organization.  
  • It is cost-effective and will help with improved iterations of new products, processes, or procedures for the future through XR simulations, creating a positive workforce experience for your teams. 
  • Your business can have a complete digital footprint of your assets, devices or products, in the metaverse, and you own the data. 

This is business solutions in all industries today, and how people connect with brands in a meaningful and personalized way, either as a business partner, consumer, or an employee. 

The Metaverse and digital twinning allows businesses to reduce the risk of accidents, deliver new products and pivot ideas in the blink of an eye all without accruing big costs or tapping into real-world resources. Having a digital twin is how a brand and industry will be successful in a digitally connected world. 

To learn more about digital twinning and how you can be present in the metaverse, contact us at info@fsstudio.com 

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