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Two experts – two perspectives on the metaverse

The metaverse will change our communication, tech companies agree. What consequences will this have for the furniture industry now and in the future? We asked a journalist who is intensly involved with the topic and a Chief Metaverse Officer of a renowned agency how they assess the situation. 

Aug 30 2022

Both experts, both children of the 1990s, agree on how they would explain the Metaverse to their grandparents. Thomas Riedel, the host of the Metaverse podcast, sees it as a world you can immerse yourself in: "The Metaverse is the internet immersive. We still look at monitors and displays. But the Metaverse surrounds us! With augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) glasses, we can move around in it."  

Christopher Werth, Chief Metaverse Officer at the agency VOK DAMS Events & Live-Marketing, sees the metaverse as the next stage of the Internet, its further development. "We are moving away from screens. With AR and VR, we have the opportunity to go three-dimensionally into the Metaverse, interact within it and experience brands and products in a way we haven't known before."  

And then comes a statement that brings us back to the universally known ground of facts: "There is no Metaverse yet! There are currently only VR worlds!", Thomas Riedel clarifies. "As long as these are not interconnected, so that we can move from one beautiful new VR world with our avatar into the next, there are only VR simulations. But even these offer companies and users many new possibilities," he is convinced. 

It will take many more years and technically complex developments to build the Metaverse, he says. "It is anything but trivial and requires the cooperation of many people and corporations. But every company that claims to be active in the metaverse today does so solely to attract attention. But it's basically using single, small platforms where VR simulations are happening." 

Nevertheless, Christopher Werth is also convinced that we are moving towards this: "The big tech companies are investing large sums in the metaverse right now. There's a development going on that you have to deal with – no matter what industry you're in."  

In the current white paper "Marketing Goes Metaverse", VOK DAMS provides an insight into the possibilities, opportunities and potentials that the metaverse offers for marketing and especially for event marketing. What do decision-makers in the industry think about the metaverse - hot or hype? You can download the white paper free of charge here: https://study.vokdams.de/de/marketing-goes-metaverse

Time to jump on the metaverse bandwagon? 

Should small and medium-sized enterprises jump on the metaverse bandwagon? Thomas Riedel remains quite calm about it: "We are not yet at the point where companies can miss out. It's not like the mid-1990s, when suddenly everyone realised that you had to have a homepage, or like 2005, when everyone had to register with Google Maps to be found. We are a long way from that!" 

However, Riedel advises companies to look into the possibilities and developments: "It's basically smart to be aware of tools, tactics and methods that you can work with most effectively. And with AR and VR, the furniture industry can already do a lot today. The best-known example is IKEA with its AR app, which allows you to project furniture into your own home (see online magazine, at imm-cologne.de).

"This is a technology that one suspects will be a metaverse access technology," explains Riedel. He says it makes sense for furniture manufacturers to systematically capture their furniture, store it as a 3D model, and store the data in such a way that it can be used for many different programmes as well as AR and VR apps. "This can bring your own furniture into the metaverse at some point - but is also interesting now – like IKEA." 

Christopher Werth's recommendation goes in a similar direction. He advises companies to take a close look at the metaverse and consider how they can best use it strategically, especially because it will also change consumer expectations and behaviour. 

But: "How do you become metaverse-ready?" asks Riedel with a laugh and answers the question himself right away: "By setting up your own digital structures in such a way that you prepare the data for different task fields and make it accessible. Companies will have to decide later which fields of activity are important, but keep your eyes and ears open now." 

Gather information and wise advice 

Currently, there is no central place or website that reliably informs companies about the future of the internet or the metaverse. "It's currently an El Dorado for windbags," warns Christopher Werth. Dubious offers and money-making are booming. 

To get an overview, he recommends Matthew Ball's book "The Metaverse And How it Will Revolutionize Everything", published in 2022. He thinks it is important "to approach the subject and, above all, to try it out for yourself to get an idea. That helps to analyse what it can mean for your own company and business model."  

"Applying 3D, VR and AR right now makes sense. These techniques are going to get much more extreme and better! Soon you will be able to walk through furniture worlds, design them, get pieces from them for your own home – and maybe someday for a flat in the metaverse. 

Maybe there will be imaginative, virtual furnishing, like in the game 'The Sims'." He considers the prospect of the catalogues of the future to be more realistic and just as pleasurable: "They'll be great! You'll be able to walk through them, look at everything at your leisure, bring the furniture home virtually to see how it looks there."

The Metaverse is a great opportunity, says Werth, whose employer VOK DAMS specialises in events and live marketing: "Bringing brands and people together – we've been doing that with offline events for decades. But more and more often also digitally. 

That's where the Metaverse offers exciting opportunities to present your own brand in a new way and to stage unexpected WOW moments and experiences." What these can and cannot be is often the topic of Riedel's podcast. As a media professional, he looks at the topic from a different perspective. 

Crypto – buzzword and bad-boy tool 

"I warn about anything that has to do with 'crypto'. There are 'bad boys' out there who want to take a lot of money from many people with the buzzword metaverse," warns Thomas Riedel. This often has "grandparent scam level", he says, and tells of companies being offered pictures for sale that are supposedly the Metaverse. 

NFTs also fetch horrendous prices because providers promise that their value will increase greatly in the future (read more about NFTs and metaverse in ambista-magazine here). "I advise everyone to keep their hands off anything to do with crypto. Because it has nothing to do with the metaverse." 

He is convinced that cryptocurrencies are meaningless to the Metaverse: "The narrative that you will pay with cryptocurrencies in the Metaverse comes from crypto people and is fundamentally wrong! You can easily and securely pay on the internet today. It will work just as well in the Metaverse. Payment is a solved problem that crypto doesn't need to solve with complicated blockchains."  

What is the cost of the meta-world – or preparing for it? 

Thomas Riedel strongly warns against spending money on metaverse platforms. "Anyone can buy virtual land or real estate today on Sandbox or Decentraland, for example. But they have an incredibly poor visitor rate and don't convert at all. In my opinion, everyone who offers something like this wants to rip off money from the companies!" 

What is quite conceivable for him, however, is that in the future people will set up VR worlds for which they will buy virtual furniture and clothing. "But these assets will then cost one or two euros, just like in today's online games. So if someone offers metaverse property or expensive designer products as NFTs today, it's red alert and lace up your wallet!" 

For Riedel, the best offers that companies can use to prepare for the Metaverse are free: "Many programmes that are used to develop furniture work with 3D models. You can upload this data to 3D apps, many of which are free, to experience furniture in three dimensions." 

The expert for online media recommends furniture manufacturers to look for platforms on the internet where free VR worlds exist and upload their own data, i.e. furniture, there. "On spatial.io or altvr.com, anyone can experiment completely free of charge and upload and experience their products in 3D. The advantages: You make your own brand and products visible on the platforms - and: It's all free of charge!"

And what if the Metaverse is not going to happen at all? 

"The Metaverse will come," Christopher Werth is convinced. However, it is not yet possible to predict exactly when it will be: "Even programming legends like John Carmack do not currently want to commit to a timeframe for when the metaverse will be part of our world."  

Media professional Thomas Riedel thinks it is possible that the Metaverse will not make it into reality, but is happy about the current hype: "We are learning so much from it right now! AR and VR are becoming more and more important because there are so many useful and practical applications for them. 

Even if the Metaverse will never exist, a strong XR world is emerging from it, based on and combining AR and VR. This is already important for the furniture industry and will become more and more important." 

Author: Christine Sommer-Guist

Journalist Thomas Riedel looks into the future of the internet together with experts in his Metaverse podcast. © Simon Veith

 

 

 

 

Christopher Werth is responsible for Metaverse and innovative live campaigns at VOK DAMS Events & Live-Marketing. © Victoria Tomaschko

 

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