How the Metaverse Can Fuel Business Development

On September 30, Charles Onstott and I held a capture meeting at CALIBER Systems. It wasn’t like our other capture dates because we held them in the metaverse. CALIBER CTO Charles Onstott worked with me, director of business development and capture, and other participants to schedule our meeting in Meta’s Horizon workrooms. We were excited to see what all the fuss was about. Anecdotally speaking with colleagues in the government contracting industry, I have heard that this is the first time a capture meeting has been held in the metaverse.

Charles and I have mixed views on the metaverse. In some ways, this seems like the most overhyped technology of the year. In other ways, we can already see some direct applications and can see some of the technology’s potential for future use. I think augmented reality (AR) will beat virtual reality (VR) – especially in a business environment. I bet 80% of people will use AR and VR like the internet is used today. Another 20% of people will fully embrace it and live in the Metaverse – much like the gaming subculture today.

But wait, what is Metaverse and how can it be used for business development?

Like many touted technologies, there is no clear definition of the metaverse. Metaverse is a portmanteau of ‘meta’ – meaning beyond – and ‘universe’. Many technology companies, such as Microsoft, Meta, Nvidia, and Unity, have their own perspectives on what the metaverse is.

Then you have authors like Matthew Ball, who in “Metaverse: How It Will Revolutionize Everything” outlines a very comprehensive definition of the metaverse. Ball’s metaverse is like the “matrix” from The Matrix or even the “metaverse” from Snow Crash, another 3D world that is highly immersive, simultaneously connecting millions of people in real time. Cathy Hackle, a leading expert on the metaverse and author of Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Limitless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World, argues that the metaverse is the “convergence of our digital and physical lives,” but acknowledges that the definition is evolving.

Catch the encounter in the Metaverse

Charles and I put on our Meta Quest 2 headsets from our home offices, and then I had several other CALIBER team members join in from their homes via the Meta Horizon Workrooms web browser. We tried this approach to see the advantages and disadvantages of collaborating in a virtual space to advise CALIBRE clients on the use of technology.

The meeting experience in the Meta Horizon workrooms – once we got everyone together in the space – was actually pretty neat. There are a few bugs and it wasn’t easy to get into the workroom. Charles and I felt that participating in the workspace in a 3D headset made the experience much more immersive and real than a 2D web interface. Meta tracks body movements and facial movements to reflect this in Meta Workroom, so when you look at your colleague, you see their facial expressions in real time. Workroom allowed us to easily allow our colleagues without headsets to participate remotely. Essentially, they had a Teams meeting view in our workspace and could see Charles and I sitting at the conference table.

There is also a virtual whiteboard in the workrooms that Charles uses to write some notes on the capture meeting objectives. This was done using the Meta Quest 2 controller, which turns into a virtual piece of chalk that you can draw on the board with. Just like in a real conference room, you have to physically go to the board. For my capture briefing, I presented slides from my computer and they appeared on the virtual whiteboard. It was a very engaging discussion and much more interactive than a normal Teams meeting as it involved walking up to the whiteboard and engaging more with your teammates in avatar form.

Charles and I are interested in holding a Metaverse capture meeting again to see how the technology develops, but mainly because it’s nice to have some variety between in-person meetings and Teams/Zoom meetings. Also the Horizons workshops are fascinating. Given that we live in a 3D world, it feels more natural than 2D web interfaces. If in the future we get to the point where this technology can help us create real relationships with geographically dispersed customers, then the potential and business case for our industry is huge.

All in all, Charles and I could see some of the promise of the Metaverse, but this experience was reminiscent of the early days of web surfing. We can see how this will lead to something better, but it’s not quite there yet, but we’re excited to see where it goes.

Ashley Nicholson currently works as Director of Capture at CALIBER Systems.

Charles Onstott is CALIBRE’s Vice President, Chief Technology Officer.

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