The metaverse, a shared virtual space that people can access via avatars, has many uses. Virtual real estate markets, shopping, and working are all key components of these domains. But perhaps no use case is more potent than the simplest — getting together with your friends or colleagues.
That exact situation happened in December of 2021 when a Harvard Advanced Management Program class reunion seemed destined to be nixed. The reasons are familiar: a global alumni base, people with full-time jobs, and a travel situation fraught with COVID. So the event organizer turned to a simple solution: Mesmerise, a metaverse built with virtual reality.
Sean West, an alumnus who sat on the Board of Mesmerise, put together the event. The company shipped Meta Quest 2 VR headsets to 90 alumni across 28 countries before they all gathered in a shared virtual space to interact. According to some, the metaverse worked as a venue, allowing people to interact in groups and one-on-one.
The alumni could catch up, talk about their school days, and even do some networking. There were, however, some restrictions. The organizer kept the reunion to 90 minutes to prevent fatigue. At the end of the event, the organizers told participants to stay in touch, either the old-fashioned way or through the metaverse.
Although the metaverse may never fully replace in-person meetings, West believes it is inevitable that more people will use the technology for such purposes. And while the technology has a way to go — headsets can be heavy, and in certain situations, the motion can induce a queasy feeling — researchers are rapidly improving it. Soon, this metaverse use case may become its most prominent.
Virtual Reality Technology Use Growing in 2022
Virtual reality, the technology that fuels the metaverse, has seen growth in 2022, and the companies using it have been a surprise. Here are two examples of VR uses this year.
Recently, Fender and BMW announced that they partnered with Meta to create VR experiences. These experiences involve using sound and motion to create engagement, and both are quite creative.
Our second story comes from the world of luxury jets. Here, Airbus decided to employ virtual reality to entice people to design the interiors of their own virtual jets. People could craft the perfect window seat, add a full bathroom, and even change the material of the seats.
Virtual reality headsets are becoming more popular, with 14 million units expected to sell in 2022, an uptick of 36 percent from 2021. And there are more options on the market, even though the Meta Quest 2 headset continues to lead the way.
With the technology starting to catch up to the hype, it may be soon when we see further adoption of VR and the metaverse, much to the chagrin of some critics.