Understanding what the Metaverse really is

Understanding what the Metaverse really is

Do we really understand what the Metaverse is?

There’s been lots of discussion about the Metaverse in the last year or so, with businesses scrabbling to stake their claim in it, but it’s clear that it’s still very unclear to many what it actually is. While many technologists may have a good handle, in their own mind, as to what it’s about and the possible future applications, the rest of the world still don’t really understand what the Metaverse is, and what it really means.  Many don’t know what impact it’s likely to have on our daily lives personally or professionally.

“There has been, and will continue to be “a growing focus on integrating the digital and physical worlds using the Internet.” 

Verified Market Research

Frequently asked questions

There are lots of questions, and here are a few that we’ve heard more than once so you’re not alone if you’ve asked yourself any of these…

  • What is the Metaverse?   
  • Is it owned by Meta (previously known as Facebook)?  Or is it owned by someone else?
  • Is it a game like Minecraft, Roblox or Fortnight?
  • Will we all start walking around with VR headsets on and have chips in our arms?!

In short, there are many questions unanswered and many developments continually unfolding. However, the Metaverse is not something that’s going to happen overnight, but change is most certainly coming and it is important to recognise how it will affect our lives so we can use it to shape our future. Here’s our (hopefully simple) take on what the Metaverse is and what it is likely to mean for us as a species moving forward.

What does it all mean?

First let’s look at the wording.  The word “Meta” is derived from the Greek μετά, which encompasses a wide array of meanings, such as “with”, “after”, “alongside”, “on top of”, “beyond” and “greater than” (BBC, 2021). The word “Metaverse” was first coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash, where two parallel worlds – physical and virtual, exist as one.

What the Metaverse will actually be in the future hasn’t been decided yet and it will be guided by technological advancement and its subsequent adoption (or not) in the world. However, if we were to use the information available right now and the technology being used, the widely recognised definition of the Metaverse is as follows:

The Metaverse is… “A persistent (always on) simulated digital environment with a blend of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality, Blockchain, and other technologies. These technologies are used to develop highly immersive 3D virtual world experiences for an unlimited number of users. The Metaverse enhances the internet experience by creating a virtual world in which users can, among other things, conduct business & training, learn, socialize, engage in immersive games, buy and sell virtual real estate, and enjoy immersive entertainment.”

the metaverse

Still lost?!  It’s okay if you are!

To put it simply, the Metaverse is an aspiration. It is not a singular thing or action,  company or platform, but a term that can be described as the next major wave of computing and networking.  

The Metaverse is the next phase and evolution that started with Supercomputers (1960’s), to personal computing (1980’s), the internet (1990’s), smart phones and cloud computing (2007…). Next up, the Metaverse.  It’s not a video game or virtual reality in its own, but it is a blend of several technologies that will enrich the internet as we know it.

What is the Metaverse?

This remains to be seen, and will develop in time, but it is likely that the Metaverse will combine immersive experiences, augmented reality and 3D experiences that are continually changing and affected by the people who use them. The Metaverse will allow humans to interact in a unified way, creating an individual sense of presence, experiencing virtual worlds simultaneously, using hardware that has yet to be invented, and on platforms that are far more sophisticated than the ones we know today.

An important part of this development is interoperability which Wikipedia defines as “the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information.” 

The internet as we know it is interoperable; meaning you can take one ‘thing’ (i.e. an image) from one platform (i.e. Facebook), upload this to another platform (i.e. Instagram), turn it into a video using a video editor (i.e. iMovie) and upload it as a presentation to your website or YouTube (as an example.)  The Metaverse is likely to be similar, insomuch that different technologies and platforms will be able to talk to each other, seamlessly and safely, but in a more sophisticated way than we’ve ever seen before.  

We can group together technologies that we often categorize on their own such as social media, the internet, mobile and live streaming and understand that these technologies are the result of the enhanced capabilities of the internet as it’s evolved.  For example, Facebook started as a platform on personal computers, and although successful, only saw hypergrowth when mobile became commonplace. We can expect a similar level of jump in the type of things we do, and how we do them, when the Metaverse matures.

metaverse

How will the Metaverse change my life?

There are many elements that will affect the Metaverse’s development and movement from a ‘concept’ to reality for the everyday person.  Things that we can expect to change?  Here are a few thoughts to get you thinking:

  • The hardware and devices we’ll use.  We weren’t designed to spend our lives on a screen, and this is likely to change.  Items such as high quality cameras and scanners may be incorporated into future buildings and public areas which then allows us to interact with technology differently to how we do today. Wearable technology will improve such as smart glasses from the likes of Snap and Magic Leap, plus Meta’s next Quest 3 headset is destined to raise the bar in 2023. Do you remember before smart watches were even a thing? 
  • Computing power. To do more, computing power needs to exceed what is currently available. The scope of this ranges from bandwidth and infrastructure to the devices we use, and beyond.  This enhanced capability and will support higher quality real time rendered worlds and avatars, and faster networks and connectivity between larger numbers of people.
  • Platforms. We’re all used to several platforms that we use on a daily basis, but they will evolve, there will be new ones, and they’ll work differently and better.  From workplaces, training and social spaces, to entertainment virtual worlds and much more.
  • Experiences. People will be brought together in real time to virtual spaces, but with a level of presence not yet possible, and the ability to make eye contact, making each Metaverse experience an authentic and engaging one.
  • Payments, financial security and privacy. Payment ‘rails’ will make sure that there are robust networks for payments in this new era.  Decentralized platforms like Web3, NFT’s, blockchain and crypto such as Ethereum (ETH), Solana (SOL) and Polygon (MATIC) are just some of the new technologies that are part of the development of The Metaverse.

Finally, the content that occupies the Metaverse will define how we use it, and we will define what content we need to interact successfully in the Metaverse.  Technologist Matthew Ball likens the Metaverse to a Shopping Mall in this great example…

  • The Metaverse – The Shopping Mall – the ecosystem
  • The hardware – the escalator
  • The shops – the virtual platform/s

But in order to work, the Shopping Mall (or the Metaverse) needs real people to enter it and interact and it needs the right infrastructure to operate.

When will it arrive?

Well, although much of the Metaverse we refer to here is a vision of something in the future, many technologies are already here and being used today, albeit for professional applications. Platforms such as Nvidia’s Omniverse and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine have been used to successful effect in manufacturing and city planning with the creation of ‘Digital Twins’ – a real time, virtual copy of a city, factory or piece of machinery, allowing businesses to optimize efficiency and perform sometimes dangerous training within the safety of a virtual environment. Similar game engines are being used by Johns Hopkins University to perform spinal surgery enabling surgeons to see inside a patient’s bone and perform game changing operations. Procreation’s ImmersivePro platform is being used by a number of organisations as an ‘always on’ Virtual Experience Centre to host daily huddles, regular conferences and run training programmes with an integrated LMS. While these examples are not truly connected in one virtual world, they use elements of what is imagined to be the future Metaverse. More importantly they provide real world examples of how this technology can be applied.

In conclusion

It is just the beginning for the Metaverse, and it’s unlikely that one day it just ‘switches on’, but it’s certainly a space where individuals, businesses and organizations will come together to collaborate, explore, learn and create in multiple ways. 

While we are at the early days of the Metaverse, it will advance very quickly. If companies don’t act now, they’ll find themselves operating in worlds designed by, and for, someone else.”

Paul Daugherty

Group Chief Executive – Technology & Chief Technology Officer, Accenture

The technology behind the Metaverse and its subtle but colossal shift could change everything about how we interact with each other online, how we work, how we create, and how we live.  There are indeed many unknowns ahead, but it’s anticipated that the Metaverse market will reach $824.53 billion by 2030 from $27.21 billion in 2020, (Verified Market Research, 2021).  Now that’s not to be sniffed at.  Watch this space.  It’s an exciting time.

What do you think about the Metaverse? Have you started your journey yet, and if so what have you discovered so far?  We’d love to hear your thoughts…

Get in touch with our team to discuss your next project, whether it’s virtual, hybrid or how we can help you get started in the Metaverse.

More insights from the Procreation blog

How to create your own Virtual Environment

How to create your own Virtual Environment

Designing your own Virtual Environment

A Virtual Environment is a fun way to engage with audiences, whether for a product launch or large-scale event. From e-learning and online education to product demonstrations, this technology enables you to immerse your audience in any location in the world with realistic sights and sounds.  The great thing?  You can also create Virtual Environments that are totally made up; the only limitation is your imagination!  Virtual Environments have the ability to engage audiences like never before, and in a way that can’t be replicated in real life.

What is a virtual environment?

A Virtual Environment is a computer-generated world that can be explored, interacted with, and experienced by an individual. Virtual Environments can be used for a variety of purposes, including business, entertainment, training and education.

Virtual Environments have several advantages over the real world in terms of hardware capabilities.

For example: it is possible to create virtual environments that are much larger than any inhabited place on Earth.  Love a specific venue in real life, but can’t go there because the building doesn’t have enough breakout rooms or a big enough plenary?  No problem!  

It is also possible for individuals to experience events in these environments at any point in time (for example: walking through New York while it’s snowing). Additionally, because they exist only within computers or other devices that connect to them via the internet, they don’t require physical space like traditional cities do. Virtual Environments are becoming increasingly popular thanks partly due their ability to allow users to interact with each other even though physically separated from one another.

Two people in a meeting

The logistics of creating a Virtual Environment

You now have a basic understanding of how Virtual Environments work, so you’re ready to create your own. We’ll provide you with some tips on how to plan your very own Virtual Environment, as well as the benefits and limitations of creating a custom-tailored experience.

The most important aspect of creating a Virtual Environment is deciding on its content. You’ve got plenty of options; you can make it look like a walk through of an art museum, a conference center, or an interactive educational sports stadium; you could even build one that’s designed based on a specific setting such as space, under the sea or in the middle of a major city. It all depends on what kind of message or experience you want to convey and what your objectives are.

Once you’ve decided on the type of Virtual Environment (or multiple types), it’s time to think about what exactly should go into the environment. When planning your content for your virtual environment, Virtual Experience Center or Virtual Event, we recommend thinking about what people need from it first.

 

  • What will they be doing? If they’re trying something new or learning something new, then make sure you’re providing clear instructions and guidance along the way with any necessary resources (such as introductory videos, instructional hot spots and welcome messages).

A bespoke Virtual Environment is a fun way to engage with audiences, whether for a product launch or large-scale event

A Virtual Environment is a fun way to engage with audiences, whether for a product launch, e-learning programme or large-scale event. Live streaming, breakout sessions and interactive educational content are all great ways to get your message across in a memorable way.

Onboarding employees is another good use of the technology when new employees can be quickly brought up to speed, remotely, in an environment that replicates their current or future workplace.

Two people in a meeting

Product demonstrations in a Virtual Environment

Using a Virtual Environment for product demonstrations is a great way to show off your products. Whether you are selling a product or service, a Virtual Environment is a great way to showcase your product or service. You can create a Virtual Environment for your product or service and set it up in the same way that you would if it was real life.

It’s also important to remember that when designing your own Virtual Environment, it needs to be user-friendly and easy to navigate through.  With this in mind you’ll make sure your users have an enjoyable and engaging experience when visiting the platform.

Virtual Experience Centers

Virtual Experience Centers (VECs) allow you to engage audiences wherever they are and provide on demand content all year round. They are customised around your brand, offering a truly unique experience for your target audience.  Again, a Virtual Experience Center can be created in a realistic setting, such as a showroom or laboratory, or one that is more conceptual.  The choice is yours!

To conclude

When it comes to designing your own Virtual Environment, there are a few key things that you want to keep in mind.

  1. First of all, what is the goal of this experience? What do you want people to take away when they visit your space?
  2. Secondly, how do we create an emotional connection between the user and the brand?
  3. Finally, how can we make sure that users have a productive and informative experience while they’re exploring our products or services? 

Need some help with a custom Virtual Environment for your next event, product launch or learning programme?  You’re in the right place!  Contact one of our experts today for a no obligation chat or a demo of Procreation’s market leading Virtual Event solutions.

Book a time with one of our team to discuss your next project

More insights from the Procreation blog

The huge benefits of video tracking

The huge benefits of video tracking

Video tracking provides great benefits for learners and educators

Using video tracking is a great way to make sure that your team is being productive and staying accountable. In this blog post, we will discuss the huge benefits of video tracking and how it can help you run online learning, e-learning and CPD programmes more efficiently.

What is video tracking?

Video tracking is the process of recording who watched a video. In other words, it’s what allows you to see how many people watched your video and how long they watched it for.

So why would you want to know this? Well, there are several reasons:

  • You can use video tracking data to measure the effectiveness of a particular piece of content (i.e., determine if people actually viewed it). The more views and time spent viewing a video, the more effective it was at communicating its message.
  • You can use video tracking data to compare different pieces of content in order to determine which one had better results. For example, if you have two videos about why your product is great but only one has any kind of tracking enabled on it, then that will be easier for you to track performance metrics on than having both sets running without any measurement capabilities whatsoever!
  • As well as seeing the viewing data itself, you can add a survey or Q&A at the end of a video to make sure that the viewer watched it all.
Two people in a meeting

How does video tracking work?

Video tracking works by embedding a small piece of code in your video that sends data about the video to a server. The data is then stored on a database and reported back to the LMS as it happens. With this information, you can track what parts of your content are working best for students and which ones aren’t.  With Procreation’s Virtual Events platform, video tracking is easy.  As an organiser of an online training programme you can easily view participant data to see what percentage of the video your learners have actually watched, and who may have missed whole videos, or sections of specific videos.

Video tracking can be used with LMS integration so that it can be integrated into an existing workflow

For example, you could use video tracking to monitor student engagement. You could also use it to track student progress. This can be accomplished by integrating your video tracking software into your LMS and setting up milestones within the LMS itself. When a student reaches a certain milestone in their course, they will receive a badge or label in the system that tracks how much of the course they’ve completed. This way, students who are more engaged have an incentive for continuing to complete lessons throughout the course module and not just at its beginning or end, which is often when learners stop paying attention because they think they’re doing well enough as long as there are no opportunities for assessment until later stages (e-learning industry research shows that this is indeed one of the main reasons why many learners stop completing online courses).

Keeping track of student progress based on criteria set forth by teachers and administrators can make online learning programmes much more effective.

“A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process.”

Tech target, 2022

Video tracking at a Virtual Event

One of the most important things you can do to support your students’ learning is to help them track their progress. If the teacher has provided clear expectations, then there should be a lot of material that students have already mastered. Video tracking will show students what they have learned, what they need more practice on, and what they still need to learn.

It makes CPD easy to manage

Video tracking also makes CPD easy to manage. It enables you to track attendance and collate information on your learners’ progress, so it’s easier than ever before for you to keep track of which courses they have taken and whether they have completed them satisfactorily.

Students can learn outside the classroom

Video tracking allows students to learn anywhere, anytime. This means they can learn on their commute, during their lunch break, or even at home. Students can learn on the go and at their own pace since the videos are accessible from any device that has an internet connection.

Woman working from home

Improves student outcomes

Video tracking makes it easier for you to see how well your students are mastering the cognitive skills you teach.

  • High-quality, precise data helps teachers understand what their students know and don’t know. Most importantly, it reveals areas of strength and weakness so that teachers can adjust their lesson plans accordingly. This leads to increased retention because students remember more when they understand the material better; it also leads to greater engagement from students who feel like they are making progress.
  • Video tracking shows you exactly where your students are struggling so you can correct those mistakes before moving on with the lesson plan—or even skip them entirely if necessary! This not only increases knowledge retention but also reduces frustration among both student and teacher by ensuring everyone stays on track throughout class time together.

When done well, video tracking helps improve student satisfaction by creating more meaningful learning experiences in which each learner gets appropriate support based on individual needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Gives learners a chance to view the lecture later

Video tracking is one of the most powerful benefits of using video to teach. Since lectures are recorded, students can watch them at a time that is convenient for them. This means they don’t have to take notes while they’re watching and can pause, rewind and review at their own pace. It also means that if a student didn’t understand something in an online learning session, or missed the lecture entirely, he or she will have another opportunity to watch it later on their phone or tablet anywhere in the world.

In summary

The benefits of video tracking are clear, and it’s an excellent tool for any organisation educating their students online. It’s not just a tool to improve student outcomes, but also gives students a chance to view the lecture later on in case they missed something important during class time. Furthermore, video tracking is easy to use and can be integrated into existing workflows so that the system works seamlessly with existing software such as LMS software.

Why not read one of our client case studies to find out more?  Contact us today to discuss how we can incorporate video tracking into your next e-learning programme.

Book a time with one of our team to discuss your next project

More insights from the Procreation blog

How the workplace is changing and what to think about

How the workplace is changing and what to think about

The workplace has changed: How to embrace this change and cultivate team collaboration

The workplace has changed; the workplace is not what it used to be.  The global Covid-19 pandemic forced changes upon businesses and organisations and in some cases, seemingly overnight.  To survive, businesses needed to implement systems and technologies that allowed whole workforces to work from home.  While some were ready for this change, others weren’t.  But now in 2022, everyone has had to catch up. 

The historical boundaries between home life and work life were removed.  Working from home, yet connecting with colleagues, became possible and commonplace.  Since 2020, technological advances have seeped into everything we do, and new tech eagerly supports this new era of working styles. 

Although the necessity to work remotely no longer exists, this generational working revolution has highlighted many benefits.  While offices are once again open for business, many organisations are encouraging staff to return to the office five days a week.  However, many aren’t, and many don’t want to.  Why?  Here are the three key reasons that will define this new age of the workplace. 

meeting in progress

Embrace hybrid working

Hybrid working is a clear consequence of the pandemic.  The traditional need for all staff to work in one place at one time is no longer the case.  It’s important to consider what people need to be present in an office, why, and when?

It is the responsibility of business leaders to decide what is best for their employees, but also for the business’s agility and performance.  A recent survey by McKinzey found that business leaders who clearly communicated their overall approach and guidelines for remote and hybrid working saw a rise in employee productivity and happiness.  It’s clear that employees want flexibility, so businesses need to embrace this to attract and retain the best talent.

“More than 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days per week as effectively as from an office.”

McKinsey

Objectives of the physical workspace

While people worked from home, pre-pandemic office space was unoccupied for many organisations, and often for long periods of time.  Offices may be open again, but many business leaders have realised that the physical space they used to occupy can be scaled down, changed, and re-used in better ways that better suit the business and staff’s changing needs.

The hybrid working model breeds opportunities for reimagined office layouts.  With hybrid working, there are different ways for staff to collaborate and meet and new ways for office space and people to work together, better.  Some organisations have reduced office footprints dramatically in favour of investment in technologies that allow their staff to work more flexibly, visiting smaller physical office spaces to collaborate on specific target activities.  Remote working for the rest of the time can be seen as a hugely positive move for businesses and for their staff’s wellbeing and enthusiasm towards their work.

 

The employee’s perspective

Recent studies have found that more than 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days per week as effectively as from an office.   What’s more is that many people prefer to work from home at least some of the time nowadays.  Historically, it has often been perceived that people who work from home are less productive, but the truth is that this is no longer the case

Phased returns to work, and to offices, combined with hybrid working policies becoming commonplace, means there’s a real challenge for business leaders to create a workplace that is compatible with their staffs’ changed attitudes to remote working.  It’s certain that those who can and want to work from home, will need to be able to.

There is, however, the question of human-to-human interaction and a sense of team morale.  Being a part of a team requires real, meaningful connections in a structured way that provides stability and inclusion.  Hybrid and remote working practices have shown to increase inclusivity of global and decentralised workforces and remote working has allowed businesses to become more agile and attract the best talent.  So, the challenge now is to increase collaboration and connectivity online amongst teams, regardless of where employees are based.

People in a meeting

Environmental sustainability

Finally, but not least importantly, we should take into account the environmental impact of remote and hybrid working.  We all know that a massive benefit of remote working is the reduction of commuting, road congestion and thus, carbon footprint.  Although this will never, and should never, be totally removed there’s more to it than that.  If businesses are limited to only recruiting talent that is based within a commutable distance from a physical office, the organisation misses out on recruiting the best people with the best skills to fit the business need.  Surely it’s better to have the right talent working remotely, than convenient recruitment that adds to an organisation’s carbon footprint, and doesn’t (*ahem*) get the job done as well?…

The good news? 

Making these connections happen seamlessly whilst maintaining staff learning, development and wellbeing criteria are available and easy to implement.  

Contact Procreation for an informal chat or to arrange a demo of our online platform and all its features and applications for the evolving workplace.

Book a time with one of our team to discuss your next project

More insights from the Procreation blog

Hosting exciting online events: features you shouldn’t miss out on

Hosting exciting online events: features you shouldn’t miss out on

Hosting exciting online events has never been more important

In recent years we have all become very familiar meeting online and attending webinars, online events and online training.  What’s key now is to make every virtual experience appealing and exciting for attendees.  Attendees now expect more and spending time creating exciting experiences has many benefits, as it will not only encourage greater attendance but will also improve engagement of those who do attend.

Online training has been proven to be a highly effective way to educate, and we’ve recently looked at some simple ways to incorporate interactivity into online training.  With the wide variety of online learning and presentation solutions available on the market today, it’s important to consider the options available and make the best of the features available. 

Here we take this a step further to see what other key features can be included in your next online experience to make it truly memorable and exciting!  No more boring webinars, e-Learning, training or virtual meetings here!

Video chat virtual environment

How your online experience can stand out from the crowd

Create an environment of your choice

360 immersive environments can be created in any setting; the only limitation is your imagination.  Space, a jungle, underwater, or a more conventional conference setting are all well within the realms of possibility when it comes to online learning and virtual experiences.  Create an environment that will allow your attendees’ interest to be sparked from the moment they log in.  All you have to do is work out what that might be, and then it can be built to suit.

Integrations

Although we have a full collection of presentation, meeting and webinar tools available within our 360 virtual platform, we recognise that it’s important to also be adaptable with other systems. This enables existing organisational processes to integrate, track and report in a new interactive immersive way. 

An example?  Many of our clients work with LMS platforms, we support integration of any SCORM files created in Rise or other LMS systems. Simply create your learning programmes and import into your 360 immersive experience, building a truly memorable and engaging learning journey.

 

Let attendees explore the environment at their own pace

The beauty of using both 3D and immersive 360 virtual environments for online experiences is that the attendees feel instantly empowered.  They won’t simply sit there and be spoken to but will become active learners who follow their own path. 

Attendees can consume the content within the environment in a way that works for them.  Think back to school or university and imagine your teacher allowing you the free rein to absorb your learning in a way that is highly personal.  It’s unsurprising that it’s a phenomenally powerful way of increasing engagement.

Online breakout session

Classroom feature: Video chat within a virtual environment

Video chat and virtual environments are both excellent features, and now they can be integrated simultaneously using the Procreation Classroom feature.

While participating in a Virtual Event or online experience, attendees can now take part in video chat with their teacher/host/presenter, all while exploring a virtual environment at their own pace. Tutors can guide learners through training modules, demonstrate products and direct learning teams all from within the virtual environment.

An example?  Take an online learning event.  Presenters can speak, via video to their class, live, with slides and videos, whilst showing them around the environment.  Attendees can then explore this environment themselves, asking questions as they navigate through.  This new feature opens up huge possibilities to expand on collaborative learning amongst peer groups.

Imagine the possibilities

When it comes to virtual experiences for learning, training, meeting and collaborating, the possibilities really are endless and unlimited.  Our tip?  Just imagine what could be possible, and it probably already is!  This might be replicating features that would be at an in person event, or features that are complementary (such as on demand video post event).  From networking and breakouts to live relay plenary sessions, demos, polls and panel Q&A’s, the key to creating an excellent experience for your attendees is to include features that will excite them and encourage their participation at every turn.  Just imagine demonstrating a product online, while your viewers can experience it for themselves, at the same time, in their own way.

Ready to give it a go?

As a market leader in Virtual and Hybrid experiences, we develop and craft solutions to help our clients create, host and manage the best experiences out there.  New features are regularly added to our bespoke platform, so get in touch to find out how we could help bring your next project to life.  Why not take a look at our client stories to find out more.

Book a time with one of our team to discuss your next project

More insights from the Procreation blog