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Meet me in the metaverse. Really?

The metaverse is quite the hype, but our associate partner Rik Mulder is convinced it will play a big role in how we collaborate in future. In a new longread, he explores the opportunities and risks of virtual reality for ever more hybrid and remote work.

First, he takes a sidestep into philosophy, inspired by Reality+, a new book by New York University professor David Chalmers. This centres around the question whether people can ever regard virtual reality as real and valuable. Spoiler alert: the well-reasoned answer is yes. Rik explores these concepts by applying them to his Canadian road trip this summer and his son’s online life.

More prosaically, he then looks at what is already possible in VR today. Both Microsoft with Mesh and Meta with Horizons Workrooms are betting big on virtual collaboration. Their respective CEOs Satya Nadella and Mark Zuckerberg just announced a partnership at last week’s Meta Connect conference.

The latter also showed off his new, sleek Meta Quest Pro headset and much improved avatar technology: legs will come soon; mind-blowing photorealistic Instant Codec Avatars are still some time off. Apart from the tech giants, a slew of start-ups, including EngageVR and Glue, are also busy in this field.

Rik concludes that widespread adoption of VR for business may not be imminent due to the still pretty rudimentary virtual employee experience and a high cost of headsets. But technology is advancing at breakneck speed. VR’s time will come sooner than we think, so it definitely pays to start experimenting.

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