FEED Autumn 2023 Web

Peter Vindevogel The Park Playground CEO

How do you define the metaverse? This is a definition I’ve heard and that I like the most when talking about the metaverse. You could say we first had the internet, then with the introduction of mobile applications and a shift to smartphones, we created the mobile internet. We’re now going to face creating the internet of place. ‘The internet of place’ means evolving from a world where interactions we have with the internet go through a screen on a computer or mobile, to a world where the difference between the digital and physical environments are more subtle. We’re getting a more intertwined reality of the real and digital worlds. The metaverse is about the more advanced mixed worlds of the digital and the physical that can give real value to the digital interactions we have today. What is your top example of a metaverse landscape or use case? Center Parcs has started to invest heavily in 360° video recordings as opposed to VR or AR to create immersive experiences of the bungalows in its European parks. Its website has become more experiential, where you can walk through rooms, click on doors and virtually go through the park to feel the environment. The company initially tested it with one park and has since expanded it to the rest – as it saw sales conversions double since the implementation.

What effect can we see the metaverse having on businesses and media at present? When looking at the possibilities of the metaverse and the technologies empowering it – AR, XR and VR in particular – the world of media and entertainment is always one of the first places that adapts and creates new experiences with state-of-the- art technology. We’re seeing that you can create immersive experiences that are more impressive than you could create on a classical TV or cinema screen, and the metaverse can carry people further away than standard media through immersion. In journalism, VR is referred to as the empathy machine. Instead of watching the news, you could be fully immersed in the action, which is more evocative. The metaverse is also impacting training for businesses. Employees can follow digital training sessions in AR or VR, which are more engaging and impactful. For example, virtual- reality goggles are being used to teach people how to operate a fire extinguisher. The training simulates the behaviour of fire in a practice scenario for a safe and realistic virtual training experience. Metaverse technologies are allowing businesses applications to create complete digital twins of existing environments. They can create prototypes at a lower cost because they can build them digitally, which gives them more possibilities to exploit.

What impact will the metaverse have on future generations? It’s difficult to underestimate the impact the metaverse will have. It is similar to asking people back in 1995 how they think mobile phones will impact their lives; everything that we will be conducting in the future through our phones, such as booking a trip, will be done in just a few clicks. There will be several interactions that we’ll make which will make the digital interactions better and more qualitative. The future of metaverse technologies will remove traditional interfaces. In the first phase, you were able to go to one of the many physical shops that were brought to your home and you had to use an interface to interact with it. The metaverse will allow you to interact with all the shops of the world, and the interface will be closer to your own, real-life interface, perhaps with a shop assistant to help you. How can M&E businesses use the metaverse to boost success? These businesses are the front- runners of everything that will happen. What’s already clear is, no matter how you define it, the metaverse will create better, more qualitative interactions through higher engagement and empathy. One thing that’s crucial for the broadcast, media and entertainment trades is empathy, being transported away by your favourite entertainment. The metaverse offers the unique opportunity to broaden the world of intellectual properties, which should be capitalised on. You can extend TV programmes to virtual worlds, which previously would have been impossible due to production limits and costs. By creating an experience likened to a TV show, you can extend its IP franchise to a broader and more engaged audience.



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