Updated: Apr 5, 2022
We kick started 2022 by breaking into the Metaverse. How trendy.
Metaverse has been a buzzword across all sectors lately, and it is no different for the event industry. But what exactly Metaverse is and how it might impact the experiences we curated for our audience is still a debate with reasonable arguments from both sides.
In a true #EventProfsBreakShit fashion, we decide to give it a try with our own hands. On January 27th, in collaboration with Allseated, we stepped foot onto their virtual platform, EXVO. No doubt it generated a lot of interest. We ended up having two events. One at 4pm Singapore time (GMT+8) for the APEC and EMEA audiences, and then at 11am ET for the North America group. Both events were well attended.
You were “in” an event, not “watching” an event
Allseated did a beautiful job at designing the environment. It was certainly not your typical webinar-ish experience, but more an immersive gaming experience. You can walk around with the digital twin and start a conversation by approaching others. You were “in” an event, not “watching” an event. The event environment had lounges, exhibit booth samples, a theatre hall, and even an island bar in the middle of the hallway. Apparently, there was a hidden bar, but I never found it.
It helped the participants imagine what they could create with their own events. “Our take on the virtual event is different from others. We want the experience of a live event to be embedded into the virtual environment”, said Dor Hershko, Head of Design. Well said.
What Allseated created is one of the key attractions of what the Metaverse claimed to deliver. According to an article on WIRED, “[the Metaverse] doesn’t really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift on how we interact with technology.” It is exciting to see event technology companies like Allseated invest in these areas and continue to polish its solution to the industry.
Allseated EXVO is also solving one of the barriers to trying the Metaverse. It is a 100% cloud-based platform, which eased the concerns of many organizers that the Metaverse is something only for companies with a big budget. You don’t need to download any software, nor need a virtual-reality (VR) gadget.
No fatigue but dizziness
But the weakness was also noticeable.
There were many comments on the avatar design, and most of them were not pleasant. “If this is the digital twin of me, I hope it looks more like me, not a white robot.” and similar comments we saw on a few occasions. It was good to upload your photo onto the avatar, but the backend setting wasn’t dynamic enough, so some mentioned that their photo was stretched. These were all added on to not a good experience.
Allseated created some cute movements that the avatars can do, such as dancing or high fives. But it was sadly reported by some Mac or Edge users that it doesn’t work for them.
Viewer experience was another hot discussion. Many people reported they felt dizzy during the event while avatars passed through each other so fast that they didn't know where to look. This was a buzz killer because one of their main selling points is networking, with the idea that the audience can interact with each other just like in an actual event. Unfortunately, the reality was everyone was moving like Super Sonic, and unless you were Barry Allen (the Flash), you probably would be overwhelmed faster than in a crowded ballroom. It might help if the user can control the speed or adjust their viewpoint.
Finally, the biggest challenge was the internet bandwidth and browser capacity. Because EXVO is a cloud-based platform, it does not require the user to install any software. But on the other hand, it solely depended on users’ internet connection and browser settings. Many participants reported issues with lagging and buffering or even continue to receive error messages that prevent them from having a smooth experience. This is certainly not an Allseated issue but a legitimate question for every event planner when they consider introducing an immersive virtual experience to their audience. Until the infrastructure is up to speed, it is hard to consider Metaverse as a practical element when designing the event.
Based on the post-event survey, over 50% of the attendees were impressed with the platform. It was clear that EXVO has a wow effect as we saw comments from attendees requesting to get in touch with sales right away. This is the first time we had such a high level of positive reaction at our event. But we also noticed that an equal percentage of the attendees doubt that they would use it right now, and it might not yet be the right time to consider including Metaverse experiences in their events.
We want to thank Allseated again for allowing us to experience your platform in a no-filter way. We cannot wait to see all the improvements you may make in the near future to bring the Metaverse one step closer to reality for the event industry.