- Organizations are finding new ways to leverage the metaverse for real-world applications such as product development and onboarding of new employees.
- Aquent has created an internal Metaverse Innovation Team, launching a Metaverse Practice at Aquent Studios to design metaverse experiences for clients.
- The Metaverse Practice is piloting a program at Aquent Talent to showcase creative talent in the metaverse.
- Companies should start experimenting now in the metaverse to get ahead of the learning curve to gain a competitive advantage.
Listen: Aquent enters the metaverse.
The metaverse promises virtual places where we socialize, shop, play, and even go to the office. Yet today, it is made up of pieces that don't quite fit together. It's as if a big sign that says “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” stands at the entrance. But even in its current state, companies are leveraging the metaverse to get real work done.
For example, Mercedes-Benz announced at CES 2023 that it is partnering with NVIDIA to create a digital twin of the automaker's entire manufacturing operations. These digital twins have the potential to increase operational efficiency, repair speed, and communication with remote stakeholders. Mercedes employees will be able to see how machines and even people on the floor are working in real-time and will also be able to simulate new floor layouts for different vehicles.
Many companies are also getting into the metaverse by onboarding new employees in virtual spaces customized to match the brand they represent. Cohorts of new employees are learning about the organization's values and getting to know each other by participating in an unforgettable experience that cements their identity with their new employer.
The metaverse is rapidly changing the landscape for the world's leading companies. It might be overwhelming to make sense of the flurry of tokenization, augmented reality, digital twins, virtual reality, AI tools, AI plugins, and metaverse destinations. However, these technologies are linked by a common thread. They enhance our ability to share information and collaborate with one another across vast distances.
Part 1: Visual computing disrupts communication technology
In the 1960s, a researcher at Stanford Research Institute named Douglas Engelbart had a vision. He believed that if every human on earth could connect together with computers and combine their intelligence, we could solve the biggest challenges facing humanity.
He dedicated his life to this vision and built a team at the Stanford Research Institute to advance it. Together, they made two iconic contributions to computing.
- In 1968, they made computing visual at a time when computers were programmed using punchcards and patch cables. In a presentation that is now referred to as “The Mother of all Demos,” they demonstrated the mouse and cursor, word processing, hyperlinks, and even video conferencing while navigating a shared document.
- In 1969, they developed modern internet protocols and launched the internet connecting four university computer systems distributed around the United States.
Doug didn't see a difference between networking and visual computing. The concepts had to work together if we wanted a shot at connecting every mind on the planet.
Today, 4.6 billion people have access to the internet. That is 62% of the global population, and we are closer to achieving Doug's vision.
The metaverse will make computing even more accessible. Computing is transitioning from a flat display filled with symbols to a world that immerses the user. Like the physical world, the immersive world is intuitive and makes interaction effortless.
“The metaverse will take computing from a visual medium to one that can be inhabited spatially.”
The internet is still in its early stages. Everyone in the world is not online. And we have yet to discover all the uses that could benefit humanity. The metaverse will change computing from a visual medium to one that can be inhabited and where both digital and physical assets can be bought, sold, and traded.
Part 2: Aquent enters the metaverse
Last year, Aquent Studios launched the Metaverse Practice for all of Aquent. The practice delivers industry-leading design for metaverse experiences and can work as a full-service solution, co/creation partner, manage metaverse functions, and more.
As we got ready to build our Metaverse Practice, we took steps to prepare Aquent for the metaverse. We started with a pilot program for a team of senior leaders and a few early adopters in our organization. The program was dubbed the Metaverse Innovation Team (MIT).
Every two weeks, the team dons a virtual reality headset and meets in a metaverse conference room. Their computers connect to the experience, so they can each see their screen floating in front of them. Built-in hand tracking frees their hands up to type and use a mouse while allowing others to see their hands gesture in virtual reality. The person presenting connects their laptop to a virtual projector in the room and shares their screen with the group, while directional audio makes it easy to tell who is speaking based on where the voice is coming from.
In the conference room, you feel like you are physically there with your coworkers. Even though they look like cartoons, they are 3D, appear solid, and move like themselves. Biology kicks in, and you're making eye contact. You still have your sense of a personal space bubble, and interactions feel much more immediate and present than video calls.
The Metaverse Innovation Team's work has been critical in developing Aquent into a metaverse-native organization positioned to help our clients as they take steps into the metaverse.
Part 3: Showcasing Aquent talent in the metaverse
Other teams at Aquent are also finding new ways to put the metaverse to work. Aquent is piloting a program to showcase its expert creative talent to clients.
Metaverse Senior Designer, Giovanni Castillo, says, “In the past, a freelance designer might have a beautifully printed book of work that you could flip through with them as they talked through their design process. In a remote environment, emailing over a few images from a portfolio just doesn't carry the same weight. The metaverse showcase allows the artist to fill a gallery with their work.”
As part of the program, select Aquent Talent clients attend special showcasing events in the metaverse that feel much like a gallery opening. Joining the experience is as easy as clicking a link in an email, and headsets are optional. As each person enters the space, they choose and customize an avatar. When they enter the space, they see Aquent's branding in the gallery and are greeted by Aquent team members. They can take a tour of the gallery, and the designer can talk through each display, tell the story behind the work, and answer questions about their process. In the remote working world, a metaverse portfolio review is a memorable experience.
Conclusion: Augmenting work with metaverse computing
It's time to bring your workforce into the metaverse. There are a number of emerging jobs in the metaverse. Innovative organizations are launching pilot programs and finding new ways to unlock value. Laggards will struggle to catch up because they won't have an experience base to build on. This is the moment to launch strategic metaverse pilots for specific teams or work streams. Lessons learned will drive future programs and hedge your investment when you are ready to scale.
Aquent Studios launched the Metaverse Practice to guide our clients in building and executing a metaverse strategy. Connect with us to learn how we can help you leverage the metaverse to retain a market-leading position in your industry.
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