The metaverse is a virtual ecosystem of interconnected worlds, where users can create, explore, and interact with people from around the world. Sometimes described as the ultimate form of social media, the medium in fact has the potential to become so much more.
Recently, there has been a debate around whether the metaverse could represent the future of professional in-person events. But which events specifically? Well, there is probably no sense in limiting the use-cases, especially since we’ve already seen large-scale events such as concerts take place in VR; but at a glance the most obvious examples include conferences, lectures, B2B marketing events and trade shows.
Breaking New Ground
It is thought that the advancement of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies could enhance the live event experience by offering attendees a more immersive and rewarding experience. Rather than having to physically attend events in person, it might soon be possible to navigate them via a headset and digital avatar.
One of the major pros of deploying such ground-breaking technology is convenience: using VR/AR would allow people to attend an event from anywhere in the world. You could pitch up at a conference in London, a meeting in New York, or a trade show in Singapore without leaving the comfort of your Seattle living room. You could also attend dozens of different events at once without having to frantically race between them all.
The convenience doesn't just lie in getting to attend a variety of events. You would also save yourself time, since you wouldn't need to get dressed up for each event. You (or your employer) would save money on plane tickets and hotels. Another advantage concerns inclusivity: those who are too ill to attend an event, including disabled people, would still get to participate.
In recent years, we've seen a lot of talk about virtual and augmented reality technologies, but these innovations are not just for video games. They could easily be applied to live events: imagine, for instance, that you can explore a car show-room in virtual reality before test-driving your choice of vehicle in the metaverse. Of course, there are some challenges around this kind of technology, not least the fact that VR headsets are currently expensive.
There might also be legal issues about streaming content from events via VR headsets, since it's unclear whether or not copyright laws will apply in such cases. Moreover, there is the matter of privacy; if you thought social media was a bad actor when it comes to data, just wait till platforms are gathering information about your biometrics and facial expressions.
While the metaverse could undoubtedly bring many benefits to the event experience, there is simply no replacing the value of face-to-face interaction. We are a social species, after all, and technology cannot be our first port of call whenever we want to communicate. Perhaps the solution will lie in blended spaces, with a mixture of in-person and VR events taking place throughout the year.