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Leslie Shannon | How the Metaverse will Mimic The Physical World

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Welcome to exchange where we discuss what’s next for intentional experience design with expert change agents. This season focuses on demystifying the Metaverse and explaining how the foundations of this emerging reality will change how we all come together. In this podcast summary, we’re visiting with change agent, Leslie Shannon, Nokia’s Head of Innovation and Trend Scouting.

Does the Metaverse exist?

Where we are with the Metaverse right now is where we were with the internet in 1993. So, it exists. It’s certainly not anything like its future format. In 1993, we didn’t even really have a good search engine for the internet. It was just a bunch of unconnected webpages and email. That’s where we are on the Metaverse. There’s no connective tissue yet, but the individual areas that will one day be connected and form this grander fusion of the physical and the digital, which is really where all this is going, there’s plenty of those elements. The elements are there, what’s missing are the things that connect the elements together.

What will it take for mass adoption of the Metaverse?

Well, it’s really a hardware game at the moment, the same way that you couldn’t access the Internet without a computer, the same way that you couldn’t access the Internet without a computer you can’t access the Metaverse without your laptop. Moreover, the hardware of the VR headset is critical. The hardware needs to support the virtual reality and augmented reality experience where we have that union of the physical world around us and the visual digital elements showing us the unseen, making the invisible visible for both information and entertainment. That’s the bigger play, the more important one because that’s actually where we start moving away from smartphones toward head-mounted devices that become our main computing interface. This is something that’s going to develop over the next decade.

Connectivity is key. As it evolves, the Metaverse will rely on organizations providing business-to-business networking solutions. Nokia sold its handset business, and phone business to Microsoft almost 10 years ago. Since then, Nokia has been a business-to-business network company. It creates the communications networks behind enterprises. Nokia’s interest in this is building the connectivity for this because you need fabulous connectivity to make any of this work. The next wave beyond virtual reality headset adoption, which may not actually happen, is the big game is augmented reality headset adoption. AR and VR will shade into each other. The big game is augmented reality headset adoption. AR and VR will shade into each other.

The thing with virtual reality is when you put on that headset as wonderful as it is, as immersive it is, and as life changing as it can be, you’re cutting yourself off from the physical world. You are consciously taking yourself away from everything else. It’s like going to a movie theater where you have a wonderful immersive experience, but after a couple of hours, you come out again. So, this idea that we’re going to do everything in that version of the Metaverse – no. There’s a fatigue. It’s too much cutting off from everything else.

What problem does the Metaverse solve?

There’re all kinds of fabulous technology out there, but it doesn’t get popular unless it solves a problem. In the virtual reality version of [the Metaverse], we’re entering a world where getting on a plane and going to see people face-to-face all the time may not always be the best solution in terms of sustainability and putting carbon into the atmosphere. Meeting other people all the time in a two-dimensional screen has its limitations too, especially if you’re dealing with creative collaboration or something very sensitive where you need to see a lot of body nuance. Meetings in virtual reality are much, much better than a two-dimensional meeting in Teams or Zoom. Those are excellent tools, but for collaboration, particularly in three-dimensional spaces, there is nothing better than being in a fully realized three-dimensional world, talking, working with other people’s avatars through the virtual reality headset. It catches your head inclination, even if it’s not catching the subtleties of your face and the way your hands are moving, you can get a good idea of how somebody is thinking and moving. It’s surprisingly good given that it’s only three movement points on the person’s body.

The Metaverse is about experiences

Studies show that, as human beings, the way that our brains work, we form memories in virtual reality in the three-dimensional space very similarly to the way that we form memories when we’re in the physical world. But if we’re looking at a two-dimensional screen, that forms a different kind of memory. Having the experience of being in VR, in terms of how your brain perceives it, is very close to being in the physical world.

Why is the Metaverse inevitable?

We are always finding new ways to reach out to each other. And this is a way that we can erase time and space distances and be with each other in a way that actually has meaning.

What’s the best part of what the Metaverse is or will be?

Freedom to do things and freedom from things. In a digital world, everything is possible.

What would it take for people to want to work in the Metaverse?

We are going to need to have a hardware change.

What’s a positive change to the world through the adoption of the Metaverse?

Better understanding of other people and cultures.

Is there anything people should be worried about with the onset of the metaverse?

Privacy issues.


Guest Bio – Leslie Shannon

5G, augmented/virtual/mixed reality, visual analytics, next-gen gaming, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more. As Nokia’s Head of Innovation and Trend Scouting, Leslie Shannon spends her time looking at emerging technologies and how they’re going to change our lives.

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