Metaverse: from the promise to the new reality and what you can do now

Despite all the stories of late, the metaverse still seems to be in the future for “normal” e-commerce businesses. However, the transition from today’s Web 2.0 to the three-dimensional, interactive web can already begin. Find out what’s coming and what you can do now here.

For the first time since the dawn of the Internet, we are about to leave behind the 2D paradigm and immersive Web 3.0 to enter. As with many hype, the arrival of the metaverse is accompanied by a lot of excitement. It seems that the current reality is about to be replaced by something radically new and all-encompassing. How can organizations and digital creative agencies successfully take the first steps in the Metaverse from this new perspective and with your feet on the ground?

In 1962, Mort Heilig attempted to replicate the complexities of the real world in his Sensorama machine. He used 3D images, smells, chair vibrations, stereo sound, and wind to immerse users in another reality.

What is the metaverse?

To properly understand the concept of the Metaverse, it is good to know something about the history of the Internet. Web 1.0 was described by the “inventor” of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, as the read only-web that played mainly on the desktop. We are now in the twilight of Web 2.0, which revolves around social interaction primarily through mobile devices, and on the eve of Web 3.0. The three dominant features of Web 3.0 are, by the tabs, “algorithmic”, “decentralized” and “immersive† In other words: smart (because it is based on AI), transparent (because it is anchored in block chain) and three-dimensional (through the application of increased and virtual reality† In this article we limit ourselves to the latter property.

Connection between the virtual and the physical

A second phenomenon that is often mentioned in the context and at the same time as the metaverse is spatial computing† Where metaverse refers to the immersive web, refers spatial computing to the way we interact with the Metaverse. In a hybrid world of Interface and physical reality, we increasingly direct interactions through physical gestures, eye movements, and our voice. This means that the metaverse is more than a virtual web. Clear connections are made between virtual and physical reality.

Games as a view

Platform games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox give a good idea of ​​what the metaverse is and will be outside of the context of gaming. Generations X, Y and Z spend much of their time in these online social hangouts that some even see as the new form of television and Netflix. The first steps into the metaverse that are now ‘regular’ news can be seen on gaming platforms. A historical milestone was the appearance of Travis Scott in Fortnite during the pandemic.

Gaming platforms like Fortnite and Roblox provide a good look at the Metaverse.

Virtual clothing, art and ABBA

The universe of Demna Gvasalia, the artistic director of the Balenciaga fashion brand, is also expanding into the Metaverse. She released a collection to dress up your avatar in Fortnite. Now there are fashion designers who focus solely on creating digital fashion.

Not only in the world of games, but also Sotheby’s auction house is working on the metaverse: “The Sotheby’s metaverse is a home for this new artistic movement that is built on the foundations of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.” The rebirth of Abba acting in the form of avatars on a physical stage with a physical audience and the new positioning of Facebook, now called Meta, undoubtedly point to a new revolution, the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.

Comprehensive or practical addition?

What is striking is that the metaverse is seen as something radically new and absolute that replaces everything that came before and will change our reality and our digital life forever. In a column in De Volkskrant, researcher and journalist Mirjam Vosmeer pointed out that the desire to temporarily stay in a virtual environment has existed long before today. She refers to the classic novel. the magic mountain by Thomas Mann from 1924, in which the eccentric residents of a luxury sanatorium in the Swiss Alps view photos of exotic destinations with stereoscopic devices after dinner: an escape from reality and a kind of first virtual reality experience.

Not too long ago, we were in Second Life cleaning every night to earn credits to buy clothing for your avatar. There is an enormous attraction for a projected reality. A second observation and perspective that Vosmeer makes is that, according to her, it seems that the adventure of the metaverse will continue to consist of encounters between digital avatars in games and meeting rooms. The latter refers to Skyline Workrooms, meeting in virtual reality. It is the first big step that Facebook is taking now to enter the Metaverse.

Despite all skepticism, the concept of “metaverse” indicates a direction, it is literally the point on the horizon towards which we inevitably go. In the next section, I explore how we can put the metaverse into practice here and now and prepare the web for the metaverse.

Take your first steps into the metaverse

A higher contrast between artist impressions from the immersive Web 3.0 and the current average cross-section of electronic commerce or informational digital platforms is hardly conceivable. Many websites still look flat and quite static. We run into ‘walls’ of products and content panels, certainly not a world we can enter.

The current hype of the metaverse may be a catalyst for breaking the current 2D paradigm of the website. The flat website, which once began in the Web 1.0 era as “put the folder online,” can now give way to more spatial experiences. Often the Interface seen as a framework, a kind of painting, within which the content presented must fit perfectly. But Interface now it has become a world that you can enter, without borders and without limits, especially with a VR headset. It’s time for a new generation of digital designers to abandon the 2D paradigm: the website as a collection of flat A4 sheets linked together.

1: WebVR content

To create immersive content that can be displayed in the browser without plugins and other restrictions, digital designers can use accessible frameworks such as WebXR API, WebGL, Three.js, and A-Frame. The relatively simple code can be combined with more advanced 3D objects from 3D software like Blender. Fruit within reach for brands that already have many 3D models available and want to make them accessible to a larger audience (with VR headsets). The products of the web store can be offered in a virtual reality view. Even without a VR headset, WebVR provides a spatial experience where you can navigate with keyboard and mouse (desktop) or through gestures (mobile). Spectacular virtual renderings of the pavilions can be seen on the website of the current world exposition in Dubai.

2. Immersive brand experiences

Where magic is needed, such as a campaign or product experience, the application of VR is a no-brainer. Like no other emerging technology, virtual reality satisfies the basic need to escape from reality for a while and immerse yourself in a fairytale world like the inhabitants of the sanatorium in the magic beerg did it. De Bijenkorf recently introduced a beautiful WebGL-based digital experience, “Admire and Amaze,” in which De Bijenkorf takes you on a journey through a kind of fairytale forest through the products.

3. Immersive brand utilities

A more practical alternative is immersive brand utility, a functional application based on AR or VR that promotes the brand in an instrumental way. IKEA has been offering the option for many years to project furniture into your current living spaces through AR. The app offers lasting practical value for both the brand and the consumer. Fashion house Dior offers an AR filter on Snap with which you can try on and share designer sneakers. The metaverse can also be that simple and practical.

4. Immersive user experience

gaming-interfaces they consist of a three-dimensional world and a flat graphical layer that provides orientation, state, and navigation. Also websites, unlike the usual completely flat design, can follow this combined 2D-3D interface model. This is how we go from websites to web spaces without literally involving virtual reality. In this way we prepare the web for the metaverse. That OS Apple uses spatial presentations of, for example, open browser windows.

5. Game platforms

As stated earlier in this article, gaming platforms offer a good idea of ​​what the metaverse is already and what it will be outside of the gaming context. Therefore, it is a good idea as a digital designer, product owner o CMOs spend time on platforms like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft to understand audience dynamics and follow initiatives from progressive sports and fashion brands.

6. Crypto

There is a lively trade in clothing and accessories for avatars. DRESSX sells metafashion those of AR Try it onThe application can be tested. The Zepeto gaming app offers endless options to customize your avatar. in the zepeto clothingapplication that can easily avatar clothing create and sell. Sansar and The Materialized are other popular digital clothing marketplaces.

Although the focus is currently quite strong on fashion and accessories, it is useful and fascinating for a product manager or CMO to think of metaverse product propositions as an extension of the physical product range and to experiment with this on a small scale.

Conclution

For the first time since the dawn of the Internet, we are about to leave behind the 2D paradigm and immersive to enter web 3.0. Like many hype, the metaverse is presented as something radically new and universal. Therein lies the risk that many organizations will see it for a while. However, many first steps in the metaverse can already be taken.Ready making today’s websites often still flat.

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About the author: Henk Haaima is Creative Director of the Port of Havana.

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