How Metaverse Drives Business Development

On September 30th, Charles Onstott and I had a capture session at CALIBER Systems. It’s not like our other capture sessions because we held it in the metaverse. Charles Onstott, CTO of CALIBER, joined me, the Director of Business Development and Capture, and other participants to schedule our meeting in Meta’s Horizon Workrooms. We’re excited to see what all the buzz is about. Speaking to colleagues in the government contracting industry, I’ve heard that this is the first capture session in the Metaverse.

Charles and I disagree on the metaverse. In some ways, it appears to be the most overhyped technology of the year. Elsewhere, we can already see some immediate applications, and we can see some potential for future use of this technology. I think Augmented Reality (AR) will beat Virtual Reality (VR) – especially in a business setting. I bet 80% of people will use AR and VR the same way they use the internet today. The other 20% would fully embrace it and live in the metaverse – similar to today’s gaming subculture.

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

Like many hyped technologies, Metaverse has no clear definition. Metaverse is a combination of “meta” (meaning transcendence) and “universe”. Many tech companies, such as Microsoft, Meta, Nvidia, and Unity, have their own views on what Metaverse is.

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

Capturing meetings in Metaverse

Charles and I donated our Meta Quest 2 headsets from our home office and then had several other CALIBER team members join us from home via the Meta Horizon Workrooms web browser. We experimented with this approach to understand the advantages and disadvantages of collaborating in a virtual space in order to advise CALIBRE’s clients on using the technology.

The meeting experience at Meta Horizon Workrooms – once we got everyone into the space – was actually pretty neat. There are some bugs and it is not easy to get into the studio. Charles and I felt that participating in a workspace with a 3D headset made the experience more immersive and realistic than a 2D web interface. Meta tracks body and facial movements to reflect this in Meta Workroom, so you can see facial expressions in real time as you look at your colleagues. The studio makes it easy for us to involve colleagues remotely without headsets. They can basically see the Teams meeting view of our Workspace, and they can see Charles and I sitting at the meeting table.

In Workrooms, there’s also a virtual whiteboard that Charles uses to write some notes about capturing meeting goals. This is done using the Meta Quest 2 controller, which turns into a virtual piece of chalk that you can use to draw on the board. Just like in a real conference room, you have to walk up to the board in person. For my capture briefs, I show slides from my computer, which appear on a virtual whiteboard. It’s a very engaging discussion, and more interactive than a normal Teams meeting, as it involves walking to the whiteboard and interacting with your teammates in avatar form.

Charles and I are interested in another capture session in the Metaverse to see how the technology is evolving, but mostly because it’s good to have multiple formats between face-to-face meetings and Teams/Zoom meetings. Plus, Horizons work sessions are immersive. Given that we live in a 3D world, it feels more natural than a 2D web interface. If we get to the point in the future where this technology can help us build real relationships with our geographically dispersed customers, the potential and business case for our industry will be enormous.

Overall, Charles and I can see some promise in the Metaverse, but the experience is reminiscent of the early days of web browsing. We can see how it will lead to better results, it’s not quite there yet, but we’re excited to see where it goes.

Ashley Nicholson is currently Director of Capture at CALIBER Systems.

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

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