Is Metaverse the future of the events industry?

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Metaverse, a nascent technology concept, is quickly attracting the attention of American and European business leaders, who see it as a plausible solution for interacting in 3D spaces in a way that goes beyond the realms of current virtual collaborative solutions.

Now, with the predicted rise of metaverse technology, which uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, digital avatars, and spatial audio to help people interact in 3D space, virtual events and meetings will become more immersive and engaging, as in -meeting people. No wonder business leaders and marketers are thrilled.

Promising technology

Tech industry dean and founder of Microsoft Inc. Bill Gates wrote in his year-end blog that within just 2-3 years, most virtual meetings “will pass grids of 2D camera images to the metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars”. He claimed that metaverse technology will allow people to have their own avatars that could meet in virtual space. Using VR glasses and motion capture gloves will accurately capture expressions, body language, and voice quality to replicate the experience and feel of in-person meetings.

Prior to Mr. Gates’ aforementioned proclamation on the Metaverse, last October, Facebook had already announced the transformation of its entire corporate identity to revolve around the Metaverse. In 2020, Disney even promised to build its own version of the metaverse to “enable storytelling without borders”. Recently, McDonald’s filed patent applications in the United States for the creation of a store, the very first in the metaverse. Some mega sporting and entertainment events such as Australian Open, Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2022) and many others are also pivoting to Metaverse. In February, elements of the Metaverse were even added to the show during New York Fashion Week.

Clearly, the metaverse as it emerges seems to have its application and benefits in many unforeseen ways, but the resulting outcome of this nascent technology may be riddled with some initial teething problems, as seen in the case of Samsung’s first attempt in the metaverse – the event encountered serious technical problems

Disadvantages: Indian context

The novelty of the metaverse may entice many to try this new technology initially, however, once the novelty wears off, the metaverse may actually have a slow start in India compared to the adoption of virtual events over the past last two years.

Moreover, the adoption of new technologies in India is usually delayed by at least 1-2 years compared to developed markets like the United States, so the metaverse might not be an exception. Since most of the metaverse technology develops in the United States, the costs will initially be high, until Indian players start designing, manufacturing and supplying hardware and software for this technology in the country of origin. ‘origin. Initially, with few service providers, the costs of such events will be higher and adoption may therefore be slow.

Additionally, few people will want or even afford to invest in expensive headsets and other AR/VR hardware that support metaverse events. On top of that, the minimum bandwidth required to join a metaverse event is quite high, over 30 Mbps per system, which not every Indian household has.

Conclusion:

Metaverse events are an attempt to blur the difference between virtual and in-person events and allow much larger groups across geographies to converge, interact, attend seminars, workshops and panels or even to be part of entertainment events.

Since technology enables networking, collaboration, branding and lead generation on a much larger scale without the need to invest in logistics like attendee travel and accommodation , this can lead to a better ROI on marketing spend.

On the other hand, planners also need to consider the likelihood that once the novelty wears off, the metaverse may be just another one that adds to attendees’ screen fatigue.

All in all, it can be safe to predict that the metaverse will find its usability more in the B2B segment in India, which has better infrastructure compared to B2C. Over time, as the technology becomes inexpensive with more vendors joining the bandwagon, the metaverse could become a cost-effective solution for experience creation and connectivity.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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