Limitless Design in the Metaverse

Zack Lennon / MARCH 2022
Limitless Design in the Metaverse Zack Lennon / MARCH 2022
Let’s take a moment to imagine. (I’d tell you to close your eyes, but that’d make it hard to read.) Imagine attending a soccer game where you can change your view from row 205, seat 16—the seat specified on your ticket—to field level front row, anywhere along the sideline with the click of a button. Now another click, and you are viewing the game from the center of the field. Click again and you’re inside the goal box. One more, and you’re sharing a player’s perspective in real time.

This is the Metaverse, and it’s only the beginning.

Facebook announced their rebranding as Meta in October 2021. Immediately, Nike filed several new trademarks. McDonalds did the same thing just this past month. It’s not surprising that these successful companies want in on the virtual universe. Avatars will need cool kicks and apparel and the minds behind them will need sustenance. (McDonalds will allow virtual orders to be delivered to doorsteps irl.)

Virtual trends in recent history serve as evidence that this is going to be a huge market. Take Twitch, for example. Their 7-day average for viewership was less than 100 thousand in 2012; now, it’s nearly 3 million. There are more than 171 million VR users worldwide. 14 million VR and AR devices were sold in 2019 and the number of VR/AR devices shipped worldwide is expected to increase to 68.6 million units in 2023.

If you aren’t convinced yet that it’s worth investing in this market, consider the possibilities it creates for the user.

When we watch a sporting event on TV, the camera angles and the replays displayed are chosen for us. In the Metaverse, we can review that close call from every angle. We aren’t waiting for the highlight reels; we’re creating them.

Similarly, attending a concert would allow for an up-close experience with the artist. What about a private serenade in the comfort of your living room? Not to mention social interactions with others in attendance is possible even when, in the real world, they are on the other side of the globe.
Let’s take a moment to imagine. (I’d tell you to close your eyes, but that’d make it hard to read.) Imagine attending a soccer game where you can change your view from row 205, seat 16—the seat specified on your ticket—to field level front row, anywhere along the sideline with the click of a button. Now another click, and you are viewing the game from the center of the field. Click again and you’re inside the goal box. One more, and you’re sharing a player’s perspective in real time.

This is the Metaverse, and it’s only the beginning.

Facebook announced their rebranding as Meta in October 2021. Immediately, Nike filed several new trademarks. McDonalds did the same thing just this past month. It’s not surprising that these successful companies want in on the virtual universe. Avatars will need cool kicks and apparel and the minds behind them will need sustenance. (McDonalds will allow virtual orders to be delivered to doorsteps irl.)
Virtual trends in recent history serve as evidence that this is going to be a huge market. Take Twitch, for example. Their 7-day average for viewership was less than 100 thousand in 2012; now, it’s nearly 3 million. There are more than 171 million VR users worldwide. 14 million VR and AR devices were sold in 2019 and the number of VR/AR devices shipped worldwide is expected to increase to 68.6 million units in 2023.

If you aren’t convinced yet that it’s worth investing in this market, consider the possibilities it creates for the user.

When we watch a sporting event on TV, the camera angles and the replays displayed are chosen for us. In the Metaverse, we can review that close call from every angle. We aren’t waiting for the highlight reels; we’re creating them.

Similarly, attending a concert would allow for an up-close experience with the artist. What about a private serenade in the comfort of your living room? Not to mention social interactions with others in attendance is possible even when, in the real world, they are on the other side of the globe.
Online shopping, at present, gives us 2-D images to choose from. Retail in the Metaverse is going to allow us to see the product in use—to test the product—virtually. Our avatars will depict our exact measurements and be able to try on clothes without the need for us to leave our homes. We’ll be able to grab that tool and give it a whirl before we calculate shipping cost.

With all of these consumer experiences in mind, think about architecture as we know it. Then, whatever you have in mind, try your best to let that go.

Design in the real world is limited. It’s limited to gravity, has to meet codes, must consider cost of materials, human space requirements, etc. But, design in the Metaverse? The possibilities are endless.

Of course, in a consumer market, developers are going to be aiming for something lucrative. Ad space is everywhere, but now, we don’t have to print the poster, or put up the billboard. Instead, we put in the code to have these things displayed in a virtual space. Brick and mortar is no longer needed to create a virtual storefront. Nothing is stagnant, and I’m not just referring to animation. A storefront display can change day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute. Most likely, it will be targeted depending on the audience viewing it.

While some sort of boundary or enclosure needs to exist for a “space” to be perceived, the flow of a virtual crowd requires no actual space in the Metaverse. So long as the images we want to be viewed are present, they can be viewed by whoever, whenever, and simultaneously “alongside” countless others with no health and safety regulations to uphold—an especially attractive notion in the age of Covid-19.

In my mind, the most exciting element at hand is the capability of the user to control their own experience. With the click of a mouse or a button, the movement of a limb or finger, or even a blink of an eye, they can alter what they see, what they hear, their environment in its entirety. It moves design from a one size fits most model to a choose your own adventure story.

There’s certainty that virtual environments will become more and more a part of life as we know it. At X-Identity, most of our team members have architectural backgrounds but, taking stock, we work almost exclusively in digital format. As virtual environments gain traction, we want to make sure we’re ready to create experiences that leave an impression on viewers in both real and virtual spaces.
Online shopping, at present, gives us 2-D images to choose from. Retail in the Metaverse is going to allow us to see the product in use—to test the product—virtually. Our avatars will depict our exact measurements and be able to try on clothes without the need for us to leave our homes. We’ll be able to grab that tool and give it a whirl before we calculate shipping cost.
With all of these consumer experiences in mind, think about architecture as we know it. Then, whatever you have in mind, try your best to let that go.
Design in the real world is limited. It’s limited to gravity, has to meet codes, must consider cost of materials, human space requirements, etc. But, design in the Metaverse? The possibilities are endless.

Of course, in a consumer market, developers are going to be aiming for something lucrative. Ad space is everywhere, but now, we don’t have to print the poster, or put up the billboard. Instead, we put in the code to have these things displayed in a virtual space. Brick and mortar is no longer needed to create a virtual storefront. Nothing is stagnant, and I’m not just referring to animation. A storefront display can change day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute. Most likely, it will be targeted depending on the audience viewing it.

While some sort of boundary or enclosure needs to exist for a “space” to be perceived, the flow of a virtual crowd requires no actual space in the Metaverse. So long as the images we want to be viewed are present, they can be viewed by whoever, whenever, and simultaneously “alongside” countless others with no health and safety regulations to uphold—an especially attractive notion in the age of Covid-19.

In my mind, the most exciting element at hand is the capability of the user to control their own experience. With the click of a mouse or a button, the movement of a limb or finger, or even a blink of an eye, they can alter what they see, what they hear, their environment in its entirety. It moves design from a one size fits most model to a choose your own adventure story.

There’s certainty that virtual environments will become more and more a part of life as we know it. At X-Identity, most of our team members have architectural backgrounds but, taking stock, we work almost exclusively in digital format. As virtual environments gain traction, we want to make sure we’re ready to create experiences that leave an impression on viewers in both real and virtual spaces.
January 2022

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