The metaverse sounds like a science fiction game, and it really is. Based on 3D gaming technology, a new Internet is emerging in which we can exist virtually. Time for an introduction. “Virtually walking somewhere and experiencing something works better for many young people than reading a vacant text.”
At the Virtual Job Fair, young people sit together as avatars in the central room, swarming over the various exhibitors. Candidates are matched in advance with openings from major brands such as Randstad and Heineken brewer.
This Sims-esque environment is still a long way from the metaverse Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg envisions with Meta. It outlines a virtual world in 3D, in which our avatars do the same as in real life: socialize, work, go shopping. But also fly and touch someone in real time on the other side of the world.
The first contours of this new virtual world are gradually becoming visible. The technology—sensors, VR/AR goggles (and lenses!), screens, gloves, and vests—is advancing by leaps and bounds. With a forerunner like Decentraland, you get a down payment. there via the ethereum blockchain (ethereum is an open source platform and mining network for various cryptocurrencies, including its own cryptocurrency ether) or have a real job built in a software casino.
Whether it takes five or twenty years, that metaverse will come, says Tom de Koninck, an adviser to TNO in the field of social XR and virtual reality. TNO is already doing a lot of work with the building blocks of the metaverse: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). De Koninck himself is investigating social virtual reality or the animation of, for example, Teams meetings. “We can already realistically represent people as a kind of holograms. You can see objects in the virtual world and do something with them. That has value in business. Think of job interviews or contract negotiations. Or training courses where it is important that certain actions are carried out correctly. The technology is there, but the quality and ease of use still needs to improve. Much of our research also focuses on the safe use of data. How can you show users in a safe way?”
Outside of TNO as well, De Koninck knows, many companies create game-like environments where people communicate and collaborate. “They are still separate environments, where you log in and log out. The idea behind the metaverse is that there will soon be a single environment with free roaming between all those worlds.”
That does not mean that the Internet will disappear, he continues. “The metaverse is a supplement. The old Internet will still be more suitable for applications than searching for information on Google just as quickly.”
What will the temporality sector of the metaverse notice? Will all physical employment agency offices disappear and just be in the metaverse? Will the avatars appear soon at the introductory meeting? As with all new technology, it’s hard to imagine exactly what something like this would look like. Because who would have predicted the smartphone and Whatsapp with the arrival of the World Wide Web? Or that social networks like Linkedin and Facebook would dominate our lives and work?
TNO employee De Koninck suspects that companies will soon have their own meta-place where they can host clients virtually. The big brands already have that place, like Nike that launched Nikeland, with the Roblox gaming platform.
One of the Dutch startups that will provide these metaplaces is Your Open Metaverse (YOM). It will be a kind of platform a la YouTube, says CMO Aragorn Meulendijks. But where YouTube is a centralized platform, YOM opts for a decentralized model, an open metaverse. “We delivered the platform empty. It eventually becomes the property of the world, of the people who create things and manage tokens in it. YOM, together with its sister company Beemup, works as a kind of 3D agency: we win from the experiences we invent and build for customers.”
The escape room to replace the job interview: you can see how people work together and how they communicate.
Anything is possible in the metaverse.
Meulendijks regularly receives questions from companies about what can be done with the metaverse. “Everything really. Soon we will launch the ‘virtual twin’ of a young DJ on our platform. She can give concerts and meet and greet. Her audience can support her with tokens (nfts) issued on our platform and thus participate in her race.” Another example is a recruitment agency with which Meulendijks talks about an escape room, which replaces the traditional job interview. “In that escape room you can solve complex problems, but you can also see how people work together in a team, how they communicate and what role they play. It’s a whole new way to meet and select candidates. You also save travel time.” Similarly, Rutger van Zuidam and his company Odyssee are pioneers in creating commercial metaverse applications. During a conference, they had teams floating around a huge space in a brainstorming session. “As one team got closer to the final solution, it began to float higher. This is how you create healthy competition.”
Walking through vacancies in 3D
It was Mark Zuckerberg’s ominous words during the Meta rebranding that suddenly pushed young entrepreneurs Cas Geven and Nikesh Mandrekar in the direction of the metaverse. “Since that day we have been extremely interested,” says Geven. “We were already working on e-learning at the time, but we immediately saw the potential of new technologies like VR and AR.”
A first product that his company Metaverse Solutions has delivered is 3D vacancies. Mandrekar: “On the basis of a video and an instruction, we build a 3D workplace, where the candidate can walk and perform actions. This work environment can be used to prepare job applications, but also to train and train staff.”
In this labor market, where you as an employer have to be distinctive, this is an opportunity to interest young people, Geven knows it. “Young people like that game environment. For example, they can mount a heat pump or place traffic signs through their remote control. If they achieve results during the preparation, they will also go to the job interview with more confidence.”
In this job market, this is an opportunity for employers to interest young people.
Experiencing something works better than vacancy text
Virtually walking somewhere and experiencing something works better for many young people than reading a vacant text, says Mandrekar. “There are many words in it, which may not be understood by everyone. In addition, with a text like this you do not eliminate prejudices about certain jobs. You do if you take them by the hand into your world and let them experience it.”
Geven: “Young people just out of school are often very afraid to call or take the lead. But someone who finds that terrifying may be that valued welder or other employee your company so badly needs. As a company with an average age of over forty, you have to enter the world of young people. They feel comfortable in that virtual gaming environment. We then bring our product to the target group via social media.”
In two years you will be able to walk in 3D in one of every five vacancies, they hope. “You can write a text that says ‘you get a good salary and good colleagues with us’, but you don’t attract young people with that anymore.”
This article, written by Annet Maselandis published in the digital magazine Flexmarkt from April 2022.
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