As some readers might remember, in the early days of the internet it was really hard to understand what this new, strange thing called ‘the world wide web’ was. We can now watch old archival footage of experts trying to explain the internet to the public and chuckle at their baffled expressions. For the common person, it was nearly impossible to fully understand how the internet would forever change every aspect of their life.
We are in the very early days of the Metaverse, so in the same way as the birth of the internet, there is no single, all-illuminating way to define it. Now that we are fully accustomed to the internet and technology has skyrocketed since then, it is a little easier for us to imagine what the Metaverse could be, than it was for people back then to understand the idea of the internet.
Video: “Ready Player One” the 2018 sci-fi film, offers a stylized and dramatic glimpse into the future technology and the idea of the Metaverse.
Basically it is the term used to describe the anticipated next incarnation of the internet, and where all our advancements and increasing familiarity in social technology is organically leading us. The term Metaverse combines the Greek word ‘meta’ meaning ‘beyond’, and the suffix ‘-verse’ from ‘universe’.
We must emphasize that the Metaverse will not replace the internet, but rather simply expand it. At the moment we have ‘access’ to the internet through our computers and mobile devices. The Metaverse will allow us to be ‘within’ an embodied or 3D version of the internet.
Here is a definition by Matthew Ball, a prominent thought leader in the space:
‘The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, data, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence’.
It is important to remember that how the internet was understood in the 90s is a lot different than it is understood by us today. Despite all this talk about the Metaverse, it doesn't technically exist yet. We don’t know what it is because the technology is still advancing in its direction, and we as a society are still learning how to use the Metaverse through our familiarity with social technologies.
By that last part we are referring to the idea that as a society we are not fully capable of using and embracing the Metaverse just yet. To summarize an example by Matthew Ball, the very first Apple iPhone did not need to have a dedicated ‘home button’ at the bottom. Having it there was not about technology capabilities - it was about our user capabilities at the time. It was not till a decade later that we were ready to adapt to having no dedicated ‘home button’ on our smartphones.
The short answer to that is both. AR is an interactive experience of a real world environment with those real world objects enhanced by computer-generated information and graphics. The game Pokémon GO really helped to bring the concept of AR into the mainstream all over the globe.
On the other hand, VR is a completely simulated and enveloping experience into a computer generated environment, that can be either similar to or completely different from the real world. VR tech companies such as Oculus, as well as the gaming industry, are again leading the way on our understanding of virtual reality.
The Metaverse will likely be a communal cyberspace, which connects augmented reality and virtual reality. This combination is referred to as mixed reality (MR).
Video: Microsoft Mesh is an example of an emerging mixed reality product.
The Metaverse is not a user-generated virtual world or virtual world platform. For example, Facebook is a social network focused on user-generated content (UGC). The Metaverse will not be solely driven by UGC experiences and it is not a social network.
The Metaverse is not a video game. Of course, there will be games in the Metaverse, but it is not the Metaverse itself.
The Metaverse is not software like Unreal, Unity, WebXR or WebGPU. This is similar to the internet being more than just TCP/IP, HTTP, or a web browser.
Yes, you will be able to enter the Metaverse as an avatar. Thanks to the gaming industry, we have become increasingly familiar with the idea of an avatar that represents our physical presence in a digital space. Those avatars may look a little different than we think of at the moment. Perhaps they will be a more realistic representation of our physical appearance and less cartoonish. Or maybe your avatar will look any way you want it to.
The evolution of the Metaverse is ever growing and all the components have been slowly - and then very rapidly - coming together for years now. The first mention of the idea of the Metaverse was in the early ‘90s, and the ‘00s - ‘10s have seen an increasing rate of developments and milestones within the space - even if some of them barely got off the ground.
Over the last few years there have been many platforms and innovations that have been constantly trailblazing and pushing the boundaries to bring the real world and virtual reality spaces together, and thus, organically forming the Metaverse.
Together with crypto-currency, NFTs are making way for a revenue model for Metaverse. Non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, are rapidly increasing in popularity and social acceptance. NFTs are collectible digital assets that can be owned in that digital form. Anything that exists in a digital form can be sold as an NFT; like digital art, video, music, even Tweets and more. And just as it were a real-life object, the value of an NFTs can go up in time. The same way that Bitcoin is ‘digital money’, NFTs are ‘digital objects’.
The wildly popular virtual reality game Fortnite by Epic Games, hosted a concert experience of rapper Travis Scott in April 2020. It was attended live by approximately 12 million Fortnite players, with a further 3 million viewing it via stream. This empathizes how the gaming industry has been and continues to bring virtual reality experiences to the mainstream.
Video: Trailer for Travis Scott’s Astronomical on Fortnite
We have also seen the rise of ‘ubiquitous computing’. This brought about the ability to access the internet through everyday objects such as speakers, refrigerators, watches or a pair of glasses. Back in 2013 ‘Google Glass’ tried to show us how to access the internet hands-free with smart glasses. However, as a society, perhaps we weren’t ready to embrace it. Same goes for the launch of Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ in 2016. Fast forward to 2021, and the launch of Facebook and Ray Ban’s ‘Stories’ smart glasses. Although it is not there yet, these glasses are seen as taking another step towards augmented reality glasses that seamlessly overlay graphics onto the real world. The development of this tech will be important for the Metaverse.
Video: Marketing campaign for Facebook and Ray Ban’s ‘Stories’ smart glasses.
This is all to say that the Metaverse is being formed and introduced all around us. In 2021, so called ‘big tech’ such as Epic Games, Microsoft and Facebook have all announced their intention to actively develop towards the Metaverse. In the next few years we can expect some big strides to be made towards it. However, when will society at large fully embrace and understand the Metaverse? That may take a little longer.
At Happily we anticipate that the Metaverse will enable the ultimate experience of a hybrid event as the real world and the digital space will harmoniously meet inside the Metaverse. The onsite attendees will have a seamless augmented reality experience, and the virtual attendees will have a truly amazing virtual reality experience.
Virtual sets and costumes are going to be bigger and better than ever. We can all flyyyy now!
Collaboration will be easier. We won’t just be sharing ideas and data, we’ll be building and playing with them in real-time, from anywhere with digital projection and natural language processing combined.
Physical demonstrations of products will be more enhanced with added layers of information. You’ll be able to see inside the tiniest products, put heavy objects in motion with ease, and test products in a variety of environments.
Image: A behind-the-scenes shots of Billie Eilish's WHERE DO WE GO? virtual concert performed live from the company, XR Studios LA.
XR is part of the augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) world of evolving technologies. XR stands for extended reality and combines virtual with a real-world environment. This means that a human can exist within a virtual space, directly feeding into their own experience of that pre-designed environment. So, again, no uninspiring green screens here.
XR technology means that the virtual space is designed first, and then the filming of the talent is done within that extended reality environment. Not the other way around. The talent can then see the virtual extended reality environment they are in, allowing them to work within that space and fully perform and be present in the moment. It also allows for more integrated lightning, camera movements, object placement, and all those little filming details that make a shot feel 1000% more realistic.
Video: Katy Perry on American Idol performing live with a custom XR experience from Silent Partner Studios, with set designed by Yellow Studio. Discover the behind-the-scenes into Katy's XR performance here.
XR borrows and adapts technologies and software developed by the gaming industry. Software such as Unreal Engine, which allows a complete animated 3D world to be designed.
This custom 3D environment is then placed in real-time on large LED screens that make up the film set and studio. Using cutting-edge camera tracking technologies from companies such as Stype, the movement of the camera is directly connected to the 3D environment on the LED screen. The camera becomes a view into this 360° space, similar to the perspective experienced by a player in a game.
Video: ‘Why 'The Mandalorian' Uses Virtual Sets Over Green Screen’ via Insider
For the future of events, XR has many exciting possibilities for our clients As an events company that thrives in the space where technology and creativity meet, here at Happily we are excited to bring this ‘Hollywood magic’ of XR to our virtual and hybrid events, and make this tech accessible to our clients.
Depending on whether you are looking to go ‘Full Mandalorian' or something a little more low-key, Happily can help you take advantage of the virtual-first wonder of XR.
The future of work will mean transforming underutilized physical spaces into the foundation of your remote office environment. So basically, if your office has a conference room that is barely used these days, why not turn it into something way more useful and practical - like, your own custom broadcast studio.
With your own Happily XR Studio you could professionally film and broadcast from your office at a moment’s notice. This will give your brand full control over the production environment to generate better creative, increased content and enriched storytelling.
As a Happily XR Studio is fully customizable to the space, goals and budget of an organization, each one will be unique. We would love to chat to you about what a Happily XR Studio could look like in your office space, as well as our Happily team of specialists for on demand support, so get in touch with us today.
A tagline of NOWHERE is ‘experience online events with real life feels’ and that is really what is going on; it is a platform to connect in immersive 3D worlds that prioritize face-to-face conversations, and re-creating in-person interactions in a digital space.
Yes - it is brand spanking new! As a company they are still in their beta stage. They are open to feedback to continue to develop, build and refine the platform for the needs of event professionals and the events industry. So, we are eager to watch it grow, and flourish as a product.
There are no apps to download, it is all web browser based, and hosts and guests can find all they need at urnowhere.com. You create a ‘space’ with a ‘station’ (venue) and you can pick a templated ‘environment’. Similar to Zoom, you can invite people as a guest, or as a host.
Currently there are 6; Blackbox, Cherry Clouds, The Base, Arco Santi Vaults, 6th Boro, Golden Pines. All the environments seem to be built with a certain type of event in mind (eg. a presentation, a reception, a party...).
There are no avatars here. Your live video is streamed into a little pod-esque shape, like a wondrous floating head, and this is referred to as your Orbit. When a first time user is invited to a NOWHERE space, they will fill out an ‘Orbit Card’, which is basically their profile, with all their contact details ect. These ‘Orbit Cards’ act as digital business cards that are collected and stored away when you interact with someone.
Just like in real life, the further someone is from you, the less you hear them. This happens in NOWHERE too. If you move your Orbit away from someone or a group of people, the less they can hear you, and the less you can hear them. At the same time, it does well to create that ‘conversation buzz’ of a room, and be able to approach a group engaged in conversation.
The rim around a person's Orbit will light up when they are talking, and there is a 'God Mic' function that enlarges a person's Orbit and has them clearly heard by all, no matter where the audience is in the environment. This allows a 'keynote speaker' feel and brings the focus to a person/s within the group.
Yep! It will project into the sky like a hovering cinema screen for all to gather around and look up at. In NOWHERE this is referred to as a ‘Movie Screen’. It includes audio sharing which you can customize the audio range as ‘Near’, ‘Global’ or ‘Far’. Please note, only the host has access to this feature.
Absolutely. There are some basic Mobility Settings that allow you to increase or decrease the speed in which you can move through the environment, as well as the speed in which you can turn around.
We have all the basics you need to start using this view for all your Zoom related activity. Plus, we have some inspiration for how it can be used as a quick and easy way to add some pizzazz to a virtual event.
It is a large global virtual background that allows the host to gather multiple participants together into the one screen or ‘scene’ as Zoom calls it. At the same time it erases the background of each participant in the Immersive View.
The Immersive View is only available to those with the latest version 5.6.4 (765).
Please Note: Participants who have an older version will not be able to experience the Immersive View when it is enabled. Instead unsupported participants will see the Gallery View or Speaker View as usual, and those with the update in the meeting will view these unsupported participants in the Immersive View scene with their original, solid backgrounds.
Like most other features on Zoom, only the host can enable the Immersive View in a meeting. The co-host and other participants will not even see the option on their screen under ‘View’.
If you’ve got the latest Zoom update and you are the host of the meeting, simply click ‘View > Immersive View’ and a new window should open up.
From here you can browse a collection of scenes to be ‘immersed’ into. Each scene will have a maximum number of people that it can accomodate, which is indicated by a little number in the bottom right hand corner of each thumbnail. The maximum that an Immersive View can hold is 25 participants.
Please Note: All other participants who you did not select to be in the Immersive View, or if there are more than 25 attendees, will be placed in their usual little boxes above the Immersive View. And by the way, this does not mean they are automatically muted.
You can place participants in view automatically or manually. Clicking ‘manually’ will allow you to elect which participants you want to immerse, which is ideal for keynote speakers and panel discussions.
There are currently 8 scenes to choose from, plus the host’s own video stream. They include an ‘art gallery’ (5 seats), an ‘auditorium’ (25 seats), a ‘boardroom’ (6 seats), a ‘fireside chat’ (2 seats), a ‘cafe’ (2 seats), a ‘classroom’ (25 seats), a ‘kitchen’ (2 seats) and ‘learning pods’ (25 seats).
You can add your own custom background image to use and in this view you can move participants around and resize them, which is perfect to create a custom branded space. Please Note: You can only add custom images, so you will need to use OBS for video.
Image: The 'Fireside Chat' Immersive View
As the host, you can not be visible in the Immersive View and run your OBS at the same time. This is only an issue for video and if you want to be seen. If you add a custom image to the Immersive View without OBS as mentioned above, you will not have this issue.
No, not within Zoom. When you record a meeting in the Zoom system the Immersive View will not appear, instead it will be recorded in Gallery or Speaker. The view that is recorded will depend on your recording settings, or the view that was used before starting the Immersive View. If you really want to capture the Immersive View in a recording, the way around this is by using a screen recording program, like Quicktime.
As host, you can easily revert back to Speaker or Gallery View, or change the Immersion View scene, at any time without disruption.
It is currently not available in Breakout Rooms.
For best results, participants should have a plain background with a solid color; a basic green screen would be ideal.
For even better results, participants should have their camera far enough from their body that it does not cut off any parts eg. shoulders, top of their head, gesturing hand movements.
GIF: Star Wars watch party using OBS and the Immersive View
You can have all the keynotes speakers (or perhaps a special guest and an interviewer) in the one screen to simulate a ‘main stage’ format, in which the rest of the participants (the audience) are focused.
There are now even more opportunities to add custom branding graphics to Zoom, meaning a touch of personalization, such as brand colors or logos, are streamlined for hosts.
Imagine participants dropping into a customised digital space with a fully branded backdrop for a fun and quirky photo op with others, or by themselves.
You can have the reaction to a video or movie of participants right there on the same screen and more integrated than ever. (Although, remember we mentioned you will need OBS for this.)
As there is now more interaction with participants - you can move them around, drop them into scenes and resize them, for example - there is plenty of opportunity to have some fun and create a dynamic experience.
Plus, he introduces us to his startup, CLIP, a revolutionary device that will be a must-have for the urban commuter and anyone wondering how they can help the environment in their daily life.
Image: CLIP Co-founders Somnath Ray and Clément de Alcala
Having grown up in India, Som understands just how bad air pollution and urban congestion can get. When he found himself living in New York City he decided to start using biking as his primary mode of transport. Biking is awesome for a daily commute. It is way better for the environment than cars and they do wonders for easing traffic congestion. However, biking every day is not always easy. It can get real physically taxing and motivations can wax and wan, so that is where the pedal assist of an electric bike makes all the difference.
As a concept, the pedal assist of e-bikes makes the biking experience easier, quicker and ensures you don’t arrive at your destination all puffed and sweaty. However, e-bikes are not accessible to most people; they are expensive, they are heavy and their value means they often get stolen. Also, as Som points out, most of us already have a bike; personalized, wonderful bikes with diverse designs that reflect us. This is where CLIP comes in.
CLIP is a clean mobility startup that is creating a portable e-motor device to easily attach to any bike, instantly turning it into an e-bike. Founded in 2018 by Som Ray and Clément de Alcala, they want to democratize access to the benefits of an e-bike, and build an option much more low-cost, user-friendly and accessible. Plus, empower urban commuters and city dwellers to take on biking and significantly slash our impact on climate change.
Image: CLIP prototype on urban bike
As a sustainability conscious company ourselves, we loved that Apple products are now made with 100% recycled aluminum. Circular economy for the win! However, what we really wanted to highlight was the flawless event production of this 2021 Apple Event with so many beautifully executed best practices that we do here at Happily.
Storytelling is emotive, powerful and a format that is universally understood. Crafting the flow of the entire event and consciously planning an overall arch will help you find opportunities to bring a story together, connect with your audience, and build a solid structure for the event. We have storyboard artists and scriptwriters at Happily who are experts at curating an event to bring that cinematic and polished feel.
For more on that, check out this past LinkedIn Live with Kevin Cohen, Creative Director, Stungun Productions.
Combining strong elements of motions graphics and curated sets enables you to seamlessly bridge the real world with the virtual. We do custom motion graphics for our Happily events, with this more and more becoming a standard. This also includes translations between presenters or items; static transition slides feel like a presentation, motion is cinematic!
We love the rainbow!
This transition, though!
Something a little more simple, but still awesome.
By creating a simple one-way content website for your event and all the details, it can live their forever and feel timeless, acting as a base source for the product launch. When people watch the playback on the site it may kill that all important ‘this is something fresh, brand new and so exciting’ product launch buzz by including past comments and audience engagements that happened during the original live broadcast.
You don’t need a platform to create engagement around a broadcast, as chatter and conversation can happen on Twitter and other socials. Also, we can put YouTube live chat on a microsite so your comments can be consolidated in one place.
Each presentation sprinkled with short 30 - 60 second commercial-style videos to add more action, and successfully tease and recap product unveiling. This is also a really clever way to present the same information again in repetitive and refreshed ways for retention.
We loved meeting Carolyn, Cindy, Navpreet (and all the other included Apple staff) as they enthusiastically spoke in technical detail. This gives you a chance to form a personal connection with the audience, showing off the passion of the people who have helped bring the product to life. Plus, it can be a great opportunity to proudly display the diversity in your company.
Of course we know that for most people, speaking in front of a camera is not as easy as the Apple employees made it look. At Happily we can bring in speaker coaches for the more camera shy folks who may not be familiar with presenting in a situation like this. The goal being to give people the confidence and personalized advice they need to shine. We did this for a fundraiser with 826 Valencia by bringing their program managers on camera. It was something they had never done before and absolutely loved it.
Companies fly Amy Jo all around the world to have her teach them the Game Thinking process, but about three years ago she decided to go exclusively online as she saw her teams achieve more progress with her clients in online workshops that she facilitated. In her conversation with our CEO Sarah Shewey, Amy Jo shared some lessons learned from helpful tips on how she structures her own workshops to maximize small group learning online.
Turn your all-day workshops into a sprint: a dedicated period of time with a key focus that has a beginning and an end. During a sprint, independent work is supported by daily touchpoints with the group. Sprints help big goals feel less overwhelming and empowers participants to feel confident that the outcome of one sprint will lead to the foundation of the next. It takes a bit more upfront work to layout all the content, but ultimately a sprint achieves better results and is much easier to fit into busy workdays for your executives.
Be clear on which parts of your event are in broadcast mode (eg. one presenter to many listeners) vs discussion mode (eg. small group sessions with participation). A helpful exercise is to think about the interactions you want participants to experience with each “Aha!” moment and then decide whether or not you want that to be open for broadcast or discussion.
With workshops, broadcast mode is often much better delivered in pre-recorded, micro-learning segments of no more than five minutes made available for replay. Discussions are also best when done in groups of four to eight, so that everyone can have a chance to speak up. Be sure to design your docs and templates for the screen rather than a printed page, taking aspect ratio into account when you layout your slides.
As Amy Jo explains, game thinking is “developing the right products for the right people and having it drive engagement with a coherent customer journey.”