What is metaverse?
The Metaverse is a collective virtual open space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality.
In the metaverse, the users create their own avatar which interacts with the other components of the metaverse, including the surroundings and other users. It is a 3D spatial construct, as compared to the regular internet which is linear or 2D in its interaction. Metaverse can be explored through a combination of various technologies like AR and VR, through devices like phones/tablets or through a VR headset.
In the metaverse, through AR, the objective is to project graphics as a layer on top of the real world using headsets like Microsoft hololens.
Through VR, the users can explore the virtual space through an avatar and perceive the simulated environment in almost the same way as the real world. The company Meta is also working on designing a glove that will enable users to touch and feel the sensations from virtual reality.
What do we all do in the workspace?
Metaverse has pertinent use cases as far as creating a virtual workspace is concerned. Let’s consider the journey of any employee. The employee generally follows a set of activities in a regular workspace:
- Travel to workspace
- Clock in, show ID, and authenticate their identity
- Traverse through the office and go to the cubicle/cabin and get started with the new day’s work.
- Daily routine team meetings or scrum calls
- Brainstorming sessions with a whiteboard to document all ideas
- Strategy meetings for decision making
- Hanging out with peers in the cafeteria
- Clock out and head home
How will metaverse mimic real workspace?
Metaverse can influence each and every employee action mentioned above in a virtual workspace.
Virtual workspaces through Metaverse completely eliminate the need to travel to the workspace. Also, the logging in and authentication process would remain the same as it is for any website on the internet.
Similarly the “going to cubicle/cabin” part is redundant as the employee can conveniently work from home.
The real experience begins from the point where the employee can interact and traverse in a virtual office workspace and head to a conference room or rendezvous point for daily meetings. They can easily interact with their team remotely through their avatars, share work updates and get feedback, almost face to face.
The real use case where metaverse can really make a difference is the brainstorming sessions. In my opinion, brainstorming sessions require a free flow of ideas, feedback, and physical mobility to get into serious thinking mode and get out feasible ideas and associated strategies to execute them.
This is quite a blocker when such sessions have to be held through video conferencing where the free flow of ideas and an ambiance to think as a group is quite limited, and in many cases impossible.
Metaverse solves this problem as even remotely, employees would be able to move and interact freely, plus digital and persistent whiteboarding would make it possible to save and catalog all the ideas and strategies from the brainstorming sessions.
Additionally, the metaverse holds the key to transforming how the data and models are presented. Through AR, data can be projected directly as a layer in the real world. This has the potential to display more complex data in a much better way than 2D screens. Also, for careers like designing, metaverse could be a game-changer as the designs could be viewed and modified in 3D, giving a much better understanding and visibility of the models and data
Also, through metaverse, peers could hang out in the virtual workspace mimicking the real-world experience. This would be quite an innovative solution to get rid of the video conferencing barrier while still working from home.
So, to summarize, the employee could take off the VR headset while working or eating and put it back on whenever they have to attend any meetings or hang out with peers.
Virtual Workspaces using Metaverse also hold the potential to eliminate the need to travel for many career options where people need to interact face to face with each other. For example, any foreign investor for a startup would want to meet with all the founders face to face, to access not just the business model but also the confidence and body language of the CXOs. As of now, this requires that the entire group of founders have to engage in inter-city or sometimes foreign travel for face-to-face meetings. Through metaverse, since the avatar personifies the user, their voice and body language would be palpable even though the meeting is happening remotely.
Challenges to virtual workspace in the metaverse
There are several challenges that have to be overcome before Virtual workspaces become a reality. The biggest challenge is preventing data leaks. Metaverse could very well contain data about a user at a much more intrinsic level than any social media could, like the user’s voice, body language, etc.
Another major challenge is preventing the creation of bots. This is an extremely important and sensitive issue. Metaverse enables the user to interact freely with the other elements in the virtual space. If by any chance, some malicious operator is able to get their hands on the user data like voice, body language, avatar styling, etc. and are able to create a bot user using that data, it is a serious risk to the user’s personal privacy as well as to the other users in the virtual workspace.
The bot could potentially steal the company’s confidential information and misbehave with other employees virtually, putting the original user at risk of being fired or sued.
Also, another possible challenge to the virtual workspace using metaverse is the prevention of weird anomalies like portals, backdoor access to multiple workspaces, and any activity which defies the laws of physics.
Virtual workspaces using metaverse can be a reality only when all of the above issues are resolved without any room for error.
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