With its 3D virtual universes, metaverses is expected to redefine remote collaboration by providing an engaging and immersive user experience. At the moment, the offer remains modest and basic functionalities.
of metaverse will he be able to recreate the social connection enhanced since the generalization of remote work? Alone in front of his screen, the associate connects the visions without favorable moments for informal exchanges between colleagues. The famous coffee break, essential for the cohesion of a collective, becomes a distant memory. By immersing the employee in a virtual universe, the metaverse holds the promise of a more engaging and employee-friendly experience. Objective: find online the sense of presence specific to the physical world. By replicating bits of office life, it lets you meet a colleague in a hallway before joining them in the boardroom.
Already, a number of HR use cases are emerging in the metaverse, such as ia leadership job interview remotely, create an onboarding course (the recruit discovers his future working world recreated virtually), hold comprehensive training courses or organize team building. The dimension of cooperation seems, on the other hand, still embryonic.
The market offer remains, in fact, evolving. If Meta unveiled its Horizon Workrooms solution this summer, Microsoft is playing for time. Presented in November 2021, its offer Network for teams expected “during 2022”. Meanwhile, it is the pure players, mostly American, such as Engage, Virbela, Engage or Glue that occupy the field. Their worlds are very similar, populated by avatars who, although “personalized”, are similar to characters from video games. At best, the participants’ faces are pasted onto these Sims-style silhouettes from passport photos. For more realism we will have to wait for the integration of holographic technologies such as Cisco is considering it with its Webex hologram solution.
A falling wow effect
As for Horizon Workrooms’ avatars, they reproduce the gestures of their owners well, but the metaverse of Meta requires wearing a virtual reality headset. Devices that can be prohibitive for cost reasons, at the scale of a company, but also for user experience. Seasickness, losing bearings in space… The immersive experience becomes physically demanding after half an hour. Meta offers to join him on a date virtual reality through a video call, but the experience is no longer the same.
In terms of functionality, the platforms mentioned above offer ready-to-use or customizable universes composed of rooms of different formats, from individual offices to amphitheater and, of course, meeting rooms. Video streaming, whiteboard, screen sharing… Essential features for remote collaboration are present. For the manipulation of 3D objects (a use case eagerly awaited by manufacturers), however, it will be necessary to wait for the integration of mixed reality technologies such as HoloLens from Microsoft.
For Arnaud Rayrole, managing director of the firm Lecko, the wow effect around the collaborative metaverse is already dead. “Based on feedback from our customers, this is clearly not their priority and the user experience is not as smooth as advertised. Of course, use cases are emerging above all in the field of events to organize, for example, seminars. On the other hand, holding repeated meetings in the metaverse still seems futuristic”, the consultant analysed.
“Whatever we say, the metaverse will fit into our daily professional lives, through porosity with general public uses”
The subject, according to him, is above all driven by big technology and does not correspond to the expectations of work in the hybrid mode. “Leaders have the desire to improve social connections, to reduce the distance between employees, and this does not seem to include collaboration in virtual universes”, weighs Arnaud Rayrole.
While the motivation for this back-to-school period is energetic prudence, the development of particularly hyper-energetic immersive universes goes, moreover, in the opposite direction of history. In the face of increasing cyber threats, data security does not seem to be a priority for platform publishers.
However, Arnaud Rayrole says he is curious and on the lookout. “Either way, the metaverse will become part of our professional daily lives, through porosity with general public uses. If I had been told a few years ago that animated GIFs would appear in social networks company, that would seem incompatible to me. Same for the metaverse, it’s only a matter of time. You have to be interested in the topic, experiment even if you don’t see immediate use cases”, analyzes the general director of Lecko.
A 2D retrogaming universe
As a specialist in corporate social networks, Jamespot already offers its clients the opportunity to gradually increase their power in virtual universes. In late June, the French publisher launched Jamespot.land, its corporate metaverse. No additional hardware or software required, its 2D interface, powered by the WorkAdventure open source rendering engine, works on any terminal.
The learning curve is particularly steep. In this universe that takes the look and codes of retrogaming, the arrows on the keyboard are enough to move your avatar forward in the village, in the cafe, in the workspaces or in private offices. Meet a visitor, chat bubbles pop up, enter a meeting room, and a “video” session begins.
“It’s a question, like in the coffee machine, to provoke casual meetings between, for example, a system administrator and a marketing manager.”
With this first version called to get rich, Alain Garnier, the founding president of Jamespot, aims to “demystify the concept of the metaverse which can carry negative projections with disembodied universes and the mandatory wearing of a virtual reality helmet” . Jamespot.land aims, instead, to recreate the connection by providing a common space where employees meet.
By allowing people to wander from one space to another, Jamespot also wanted to reconnect with the logic of informal meetings. “It is, like the coffee machine, to provoke casual meetings between, for example, a system administrator and a marketing manager.” A company can appropriate the space by choosing a base map that symbolizes its indentation, zen, nature or futurism.
In the coming months, Jamespot will enrich its metaverse with dynamic features such as a Kanban board or split screen. The publisher will also open an Amphitheater space to host events with external speakers. “Unlike Meta, we start by offering private and secure spaces before gradually opening up to the outside world,” concludes Alain Garnier.