Lately, there’s been plenty of talk about the metaverse, what it could mean for the future of work, and how it might impact a hybrid workplace. Even before Facebook’s rebirth as Meta, it was a hot topic among the extended reality community.
It’s the subject of many a think piece - and if you’re interested here are some we found particularly insightful, from the likes of Forbes, Wired, VentureBeat, Harvard Business Review, and more, including Bill Gates himself, and, of course, Meta. And while there’s some healthy scepticism in some of the pieces, there’s plenty to indicate that “something metaverse-shaped lying in the relatively near future is an idea worth taking seriously”, as The Economist puts it.
Right now, there’s no consensus on exactly what a metaverse might look like. Some are describing games like Fortnite or Roblox as metaverses in their own right. And the sheer amount of computing power needed for a true Ready Player One-style metaverse is a way off yet. And that’s to say nothing of the hardware most will require to enter a metaverse, like headsets, motion capture tools, and so on.
Still, with all of this exciting talk about the metaverse, we at Igloo have been thinking about how we fit in with whatever a metaverse (or indeed, metaverses) could look like.
The metaverse without a headset
Many of the articles discussing the metaverse have flagged the same question - even if you have a VR headset, how long will you want to wear it for? Is it realistic for people to wear one for multiple hours a day? And is it possible for everyone to wear headsets?
And it’s a question we’ve already answered, with our Igloo Shared VR technology - taking any digital content and putting it into a shared, physical space. As you probably know, we’ve always described it as being like stepping inside a giant VR headset.
So, when a metaverse arrives, we can offer a way to get inside without the need for the headset.
A content-agnostic window into the metaverse
It’s unclear right now how open a metaverse - or metaverses - may end up being. Certainly, at the moment, there are many discrete virtual reality and augmented reality applications out there. And while the ideal would be a metaverse open to everyone, ‘like the town square’, we could be a way off from it.
But whatever metaverse(s) might look like, we’ll be able to create a window into any of them. A key quality of our Immersive Media Player is how it can integrate with any tool or software application - it’s important to us that it’s content-agnostic and can work with whatever tools our clients may choose to use.
It's something we've worked on before with applications such as The Wild or Connec2, providing a way to connect with VR headset users in the same virtual space. And we're working on what the experience is like for those headsets users when interacting with the Igloo - watch this space for more.
The metaverse can transform the workplace
This is where we really see Igloo technology coming into its own.
However the metaverse ends up looking, it’s still likely that people will want to come together in a physical space for at least some of the time. For example, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is redesigning some of its campus space to reflect new ways it can be used, such as bringing everyone together for a design session, or for orientation.
Many organisations are looking to create offices that are a destination for employees to come in and collaborate in ways they just can’t at home, without being present together. A physical workspace or workplace should offer a hub for very specific purposes.
And that’s just how Igloo immersive spaces can be so effective, by allowing companies to create unique collaborative spaces that can get teams right inside any of their content - and to get right inside the metaverse. It means that work done in the metaverse can easily be carried over from a physical collaboration session to continued work remotely. And, should there be colleagues who can’t make it, they can still participate in the metaverse.
It’s already happening - check out this piece from Jason Warnke on Accenture’s virtual office and how it uses its Igloo rooms to access the space.
However the metaverse evolves, it’s clear that the world is on the verge of another big shift in the way we collaborate - and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on how we’re going to contribute.