Students are excited and optimistic about what the metaverse may bring

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Written by Christina Flores Chan and Matthew Davison

Long before metaverse became a common term, Michael Bergman, associate professor at the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) School of Performance and director of research at the Technology Research Lab in Performance, was incorporating it not only into his own storytelling, but also into his teachings.

During the university’s time online during the pandemic, Bergman said he took the opportunity to explore other avenues of performance besides the show’s usual theatrical performances. He began using virtual reality (VR), a computer-generated experience that immerses users in a simulated environment using a headset, as a virtual stage for his students.

“Taking into account aspects of landscape design, lighting design, sound design, we basically create this environment in virtual reality, and then we have actors in it,” Bergman said.

For certain projects, the actors would perform the live broadcast using their own headphones and the audience would join through virtual reality. “The fun aspect about it is that you can do things in virtual reality and in the metaverse that you can’t do in real life. So all of a sudden, we can jump between floors, you know?” Bergman said.

“Actors can change the whole scene and we are now in a completely different environment. It takes a lot of the magical aspects of theater and performance and gives us another tool to make that really immersive.”

For some students, the term metaverse may be a foreign concept — a word associated with the neon green coding language of the matrix Or remind us of a dystopian future where society only exists online. For others, the word may be as important as the latest name for the tech company Meta, formerly known as Facebook. And as it happens, none of these guesses will be out of reach.

“You can do things in virtual reality and in the metaverse that you cannot do in real life.”

“Metaverse”, according to Forbes, is an umbrella term for online virtual worlds that can be accessed through 3D and immersive technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Various applications of the metaverse work to simulate and augment the physical reality in which society currently exists.

For example, while Bergmann’s virtual stage has helped students increase their education in the physical world through online learning, other spaces simply aim to provide users with a digital alternative to the analog alternative.

These digital spaces are made possible by blockchain technology, which is identifier By International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) as a decentralized database that collects, records and tracks all digital assets and transactions, such as the trading of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) located over the network.

“If we don’t deal with the metaverse at this point, we’re behind”

By trading NFTs, virtual real estate, and cryptocurrencies, users of the metaverse can spend and earn capital in the digital space. Brands like Gucci And the nike It has already released costume designs tailored to digital images, while the National Football League partnered with Ticketmaster earlier this year to present the NFT tickets Celebrating the 2022 Super Bowl.

It is expected that these areas will continue to grow. September report by globaldata The metaverse market size is valued at $22.79 billion (or $31.1 billion Canadian) in 2021 and is expected to swell to $996.42 billion by 2030.

According to another article in Forbesthe ultimate goal of the metaverse is to create a “single user experience,” allowing participants to travel and experience destinations around the world through VR and a headset or communicate with other users in ways that simulate real-life interaction.

For Bergman, one of the only setbacks to using advanced technology for performance has been the challenge of making virtual reality headsets more accessible to members of the public. He believes, however, that in a few years, metaverse technology will become more common.

“It’s still kind of a niche market because of the hardware requirements. Once hardware is ubiquitous, that will open the door to the people who make this space and the people who handle it,” Bergman said.

So far, he said, his students have been excited about the performance possibilities in the metaverse, especially in education. “If we don’t deal with the metaverse at this point, we’re behind.”

Sabrina Padilla, a fourth-year marketing management student, said she’s noticed that her classmates at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) are interested in metaverses, too.

“[The metaverse] It is an area of ​​great interest for innovative students, particularly in the fields of business, finance, and technology,” Padilla said. “Although I cannot guarantee its success, it has great potential for growth.”

“Right now, it looks like it’s Poptropica or Club Penguin.”

Padilla recalls analyzing the experience of interactive design for furniture brand Ikea, IKEA Creative, In class. The software allows users to visualize what selected products will look like in their homes by using their phones rear camera to place furniture in a space of approx.

“When you get the app, you can see and visualize the products as if they were right in front of you. It creates a more dynamic environment for people,” Padilla said.

Once developed, digital-focused companies hope the metaverse will become a source for shopping for both digital and physical products, as well as using them for services like education and doctor appointments, according to Reader’s Digest.

Currently, the virtual space is mostly used for games, an activity that students participate in in their spare time. Ben Chandler, a fourth-year sports media student and captain of the National Hockey League esports team at TMU, believes that gaming in the metaverse still has room for improvement.

“There are definitely some great parts, but in terms of the practicality of competitive gaming, being in virtual reality [and] “Being in the metaverse doesn’t add much to the experience,” Chandler said.

poll conducted by globantInc., a technology company that helps companies transition to the digital realm, found that 52% of gamers in the US believe the metaverse will change the industry landscape and 41% believe it will have a positive impact.

Chandler added that because it’s still new, most games in the metaverse are more like the ones in a virtual meeting room, like Zoom, rather than the immersive experience that video games provide. “Right now, it’s as if Poptropica or Club Penguin has been uncovered.”

“You never know how complementary that can be [to] The way we live 15 years from now.”

One of the main ways that games are changing is through the continuous development of NFTs. According to the digital business consulting firm EYItems within games that have been purchased or earned, such as weapons or skins, convert to NFT. This allows players to acquire, create, develop and sell virtual properties.

Chandler said that while he won’t invest in NFTs for now, he believes this aspect of the virtual world could explode as games continue to grow within the metaverse.

Padilla shared the same opinion with her fellow student about the potential of the metaverse, across all its industries and purposes.

I compared the ever-growing digital sphere to the Internet in the 1990s: a new technology that has yet to be explored but that will soon become a transformation of human life and interaction around the world.

“The only thing constant in our world is that it changes,” she said. “People should be open to learning more about metaverses,” Padilla said.

“You never know how complementary that can be [to] The way we live 15 years from now.”

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