Metaverse an evolution of the Internet

ENGAGE is a metaverse platform designed for professionals, event organizers and corporations to build their own virtual worlds to provide metaverse services directly to their own clients enabling new business models and revenue opportunities .

Used extensively for virtual events, corporate communications, education and training ENGAGE is used by clients such as PwC, 3M, Unilever, Stanford University, HSBC, Lenovo, HTC, KIA and many fortune 500 companies globally to help turn their virtual metaverse strategies into a reality.

What is “The Metaverse “ ?

“Metaverse” is an overused marketing term for the evolution of the internet from a flat 2D solo experience into a shared immersive 3D experience using avatars to explore virtual worlds and to experience events together.

For example social media platforms today are not very social experiences as users interact with them by posting comments, photos or videos on their profiles and await comments, likes or shares for validation. This is still a very solo user experience at heart as users wait for mini gratification when their posts receive views, likes, shares and comments from other users. This is not true social interaction and quite often it’s all manufactured based on false perceptions with many posts containing posed or staged photos and including somebody elses reposted thoughts to make them sound wittier than they actually are.

Where Facebook/Meta are being very smart is in knowing that XR “Augmented & Virtual Reality” Immersive technologies are a great way of bringing people together in a truer sense than what is currently possible using standard screen technologies and this is why they have completely moved into this area of technology. The sense of “presence” being in the room with somebody is achievable using VR devices such as the Quest 2 today and even though avatars don’t look realistic yet you do get a sense of the person controlling them and it makes for a much better communications experience then simply interacting via video screens.

Where does ENGAGE fit in?

Just as the internet is not one single website or web service the metaverse is not something that Meta/Facebook are building alone. If we compare where we are today to the emergence of the world wide web back in the mid 90’s many people would have thought incorrectly that the world wide web was being built by AOL alone as the vast majority of early users were on their platform to surf webpages. We are seeing the same happen today as many journalists hear the term “metaverse” and assume its Facebook.

The internet evolved past AOL quickly as companies and organizations wanted to build different web technologies and have additional control over security and services. We are going to see exactly the same in the Metaverse where we will have different providers competing against each other and  specializing in different areas such as metaverses for dating, sports, games, entertainment, enterprise and education. This is where we come in as we built our platform for enterprise and education applications from the very beginning and have had special focus on security and safety to ensure we have solid foundations going forward. This makes us stand apart from much of the competition as their whole focus has been on quick user acquisition where we have had a focus on user quality. The key to success in this space is building community with engagement and the quality of your users is what is most important to us for enterprise collaboration.

What is muddying the water right now is the amount of competitive multiplayer video games tacking on the term “metaverse” to inflate value where in fact they are no different to video games of the past such as Grand Theft Auto who one could argue has a much stronger case then many of the “metaverse” companies today. People need to look past the term “metaverse” and see what’s really going on in the background. Not every video game, or crypto scheme is a metaverse play just as Meta is not the whole “internet”.

All true metaverse platforms will eventually be cloud rendered and linked together providing seamless exploration between virtual worlds just like we seamlessly transfer between websites using hyperlinks. You will simply walk between one world to another using portals and this is something our ENGAGE platform provides today linking different applications together even if it’s limited to VR applications on the Oculus store for now.

Another future benefit of cloud rendering is the ability to reduce the XR headset to the size of standard glasses or even contact lenses as all graphical processing is done remotely and the headset only needs to provide a display removing the need for GPU, Cooling and CPU in the device itself. This will increase comfort and quality of experience as avatars will be photo realistic and virtual worlds can be infinite and displayed in high fidelity.  

History Repeating Itself

History has a tendency of repeating itself as humans are creatures of nature and we will default into what we know as a “safe path” to take or to put it a better way the “perceived” right path to take. If we once again look back at the mid to late 90’s during the .com bubble many companies paid large fees to purchase the right domain name for them and ended up with nothing to show for it.

In many instances they created a simple website or even a single webpage and placed their logo on the page along with a phone number with a statement “ Call us to do business “ and used this as their web strategy. This was old thinking for new technology and the companies who truly got what the web was all about flourished and those who didn’t – “didn’t”.  Look at success stories such as eBay, Amazon, Netflix and Youtube and the effect they have had on retailers, media corporations and the movie industry.

We are seeing the exact same pattern repeat itself in the “metaverse” with many big name brands building virtual worlds which are simply little more then branded bill boards inside video games and calling this our metaverse strategy. These are wasteful marketing opportunities that are already looking dated and being ripped to shreds on social media and news outlets as they are populated by 12-year-olds who like nothing better to do then to troll the adults in the room.

Here at ENGAGE we don’t have all the answers but what we do and do really well is to listen to our clients and ask the big questions first before building anything.

Questions like:

  • What outcome are you seeking by building your own Metaverse world?
  • Is this a marketing play to say your first in your industry or something more?
  • Are you trying to test a new business use case?
  • Is this a use case to save money by providing a service differently?
  • Is this better then what you currently do?
  • Do you even need to do this?

Not every business will benefit from a metaverse play today just as not every business will benefit from an extensive web presence. Metaverse will not replace everything you do just as the web has not completely replaced retail stores and other industries. You can today easily purchase clothing from sites like Amazon but there is still real benefit and want for people to go into a physical shop and trying before you buy in a tailored retail experience. Think fitting on a wedding address it’s an event more then a purchase and not something most would typically do online.

Metaverse will be the same where areas such as training, development and remote communication will be transformed completely but people will still want to travel to real locations for holidays and attend real concerts. What successful metaverse companies need to do is to provide experiences that people can’t get in the real world that either enhance an experience or make things cheaper, easier or faster to achieve.

The Real Use Cases

One area we are seeing extensive growth is with digital twin replacements for remote collaboration as the workplace is moving to a remote hybrid model which was kicked into overdrive due to COVID lockdowns over the past 3 years. This is extensively being led by big tech companies today but we are seeing this spread in use to customer services and other office employment industries.  

In the post COVID lockdown world of today many organizations are now struggling to retain staff as they try get them back into real world office environments causing what many are calling “the great migration” where current and potential employees prefer to move to companies that do offer remote work options.  Employees simply do not want to go back to pre-COVID work conditions where they have long commutes and have the need to pay high rents to live in cities closer to their jobs. They have found many benefits in the work from home model and got used to it over the past 3 years however it also raised some well-known limitations.

Zoom fatigue is a real issue and the endless need for meetings by poorly informed managers making the new remote work environment feel very isolating to some especially those who are being micro managed. In pre COVID times an employee would walk into a physical building and be trained directly by HR professionals and then meet their teammates to construct peer support groups within the organization and make new friends. This all lends itself to feeling part of a wider family and in turn make it a much tougher decision to move to a new employer once you are embedded within an organization.

During COVID lockdowns many companies still had to hire new employees and they found that employee churn was a real issue where new employees would stay for training and could end up leaving after 6 to 12 months because of the feeling of isolation. We have helped many a global organization with this issue, with employees experiencing onboarding in immersive environments and holding daily stand-ups and large group meetings within our ENGAGE platform. 

Whiteboarding, Product Demos, Meetings and Training and Development are the key areas we see used within our platform on a daily basis and even some of our perceived competition use us for professional meetings within the metaverse on a regular basis.

VR/AR is not the Metaverse

Most journalists and media will try tie the wider adoption of VR/AR headsets to the success or failure of the metaverse. This is very far wide off the mark as VR/AR is a medium to experience the metaverse with and not the metaverse itself. You can explore the ENGAGE metaverse on any of todays computing devices such as phones, tablets, PC’s and Mac devices however we do recommend you try use a VR device where possible to get the full immersive effect. Trying to tie the success of VR adoption to the metaverse is like trying to tie the success of the internet to a single device such as an iphone. The internet is much broader in scope then mobile supported websites and the “metaverse” will evolve in the same way pushing the boundaries of communication and connection in our daily lives just as the current internet has today.

An evolving world and technical lexicon

Anybody that calls themselves a metaverse expert today is inflating their perceived knowledge to others in this space. The truth is there are no experts in this space yet as nobody knows with certainty what’s going to happen and it’s pretty much the wild west in this space currently just as the internet was in the mid 90s. We at ENGAGE listen to our clients requests better then most anybody else and make recommendations based on our past wins and failures and look back at the history of communication and the internet to fill in the gaps when and where we find them and we find them regularly due to the amount of new use cases we see coming into our inbox on a daily basis.

As a company we have to pick and choose our clients wisely and deploy resources smarter than the competition who are running after quick marketing dollars which are not really advancing their company or the industry. You will hear a lot of noise on social media and news outlets about this industry and hear buzz words such as Web3, Total Immersion, Avatar Engagement but look past the headlines and look at the companies who are trying something outside of marketing stunts and you will see the next Metas, Amazons, eBays and Netflix coming out of this industry. The future is what we make it as a society and the team at ENGAGE are trying to guide many of the fortune 500 companies we work with on a strategy for future growth and not short term marketing gains.