Phygital, Interoperable, Immersive: Visions for the Metaverse | Part One

Two viewpoints from Mark Rolston and Ida Kymmer

We had a chance to observe two different visions of the metaverse during the last week of our asynchronous conference.

The first one, where the metaverse is a digital overlay of the people, places, and things that we interact with in the real world, was shared with us by Mark Rolston, the founder and chief creative of product design consultancy argodesign. For Mark, the metaverse doesn’t necessarily mean a departure into a 3D world, but a focus on our actual world and the ways to facilitate our navigation through it with the use of AI and computing. “The hopeful future of computing is less about building a new world in the computer. It’s about adopting the computer to the real world,” he says.

A particular role in this vision is played out by spatial computing which allows us to passively and actively consume information by wearing an AR device, not only in the normal line of sight, but also integrated into that line of sight.

A concept crucial to this vision is placefullness, or the idea that the whole world is unlocking itself through information visible to us all around when wearing a smart AR device — “our homes, the places of work, and the places where we take care of each other, places where humanity happens in its most intense forms.”

That way, the metaverse takes all the knowledge that computing and AI have processed, and lays it on top of the world. So when we, as customers, are looking at an object in our reality, everything that the business world has learned about it can be laid on top of it.

“We’re putting on some very big pants when talking about AI, mixed reality, and having access to computing everywhere”—Mark Rolston

And on Thursday we literally had a chance to jump into the second vision and visit a metaverse created by the team at Journee — The Metaverse Company. From its early stages of creation Journee was inspired by art that triggers imagination and stunts. So a guide through their metaverse, built for brands like BMW and Adidas, was a full-blown 3D experience of navigating in a digital world where nature, architecture and objects co-exist in surprising ways and forms — as you can see from the screenshots shared in our Discord channel.

Seeing a golden elephant on the beach after listening to a Coldplay concert in a metaverse created by Journee

How will these two visions coincide in the Web3 space? According to Ida Kymmer, strategic business development manager at Journee who guided us, that won’t be a problem — both will exist, depending on the customer needs.

“Let’s just wait and see which technologies are going to develop to be so effortless that we want to engage with them”—Ida Kymmer

And in our #houseverse space exciting discussion around these two visions has unfurled:

One participant asked: “Will the metaverse be something we will go to to escape from reality, or will it be something being intertwined with our real world to make the reality better?” They also asked: “People are already overwhelmed and constantly distracted by all the notifications and “to do’s” permanently popping up. Will this vision of using AR help to solve that problem, or will it be another additional layer stressing us?”

Check out Mark Rolston’s extensive responses on new technologies trying out higher thresholds of users’ attention, computing’s engagement with abstractions, and his hopes for “seeing new patterns of computing used to enhance our connection with the world”, in the screenshots below:

A conversation has also sparked around the role of architecture in the metaverse, in our #currently-reading channel. Do we need buildings in the metaverse? One could argue we don’t, seeing as there are no bodies, no weather, no limited footprints within costly land. But there are also “arguments for keeping some familiar elements from the real world in virtual spaces, in particular since our real bodies are under the influence of earth gravity,” as one of our users replied. Should designers of virtual spaces include architects? The design of a space communicates its intent, and we, as humans, are affected and shaped by it, be it our “real” world, or a virtual one. “I do think we need ‘bodies’ in virtual spaces, including VR, but those ‘bodies’ do not need to resemble our physical selves or even be humanoid in shape. Humans have an amazing ability to embody pretty much anything”, this user wrote.

Some useful links have been shared on the subject:

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Katia Zoritch, writer at the House of Beautiful Business

Beautiful Business in Web3 is the first community-run, asynchronous conference on the future of humanity, technology, and business in a decentralized world. It is run by the House of Beautiful Business in partnership with Hotwire, a global PR and communications consultancy.

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The House of Beautiful Business is a global platform and community for making humans more human and business more beautiful. www.houseofbeautifulbusiness.com.