Metaverse hangout in Orlando a sign of what’s to come

I recently jumped on my VR headset, a Meta Quest 2, in a virtual hangout with Orlando Tech. Let’s go ahead and hashtag that one “2022.”

It was not my first time in The Metaverse, thanks to a Foo Fighters’ post-Super Bowl performance in February.

But it was the first time I could hear interactions and watch speakers I knew IRL hold court in a virtual meetup.

One thing that needs to be clear is the difference between VR and The Metaverse because, at first glance, they are hardly discernible.

However, the agreed-upon difference appears to be that VR is the tech for creating 3D virtual environments with specific functions.

Experts define the Metaverse, meanwhile, as an “open, shared and persistent virtual world” people can visit virtually, according to numerous online sources.

About seven years ago, an Orlando company launched virtual meeting spaces but more on that later.

Metaverse a team effort

The Orlando Economic Partnership, which launched the effort to have Orlando become known as The MetaCenter, on Aug. 1 helped sponsor a meetup of the VRARA using the ENGAGE XR platform in virtual reality – er, The Metaverse.

I have one word to say about it: Wow.

They really pulled it off and the meeting was fantastic.

I enjoyed visiting this new-age looking meeting space, which appeared to be floating in space.

LINK: I’m a huge believer in Orlando’s opportunity as The Metaverse emerges. 

I liked interacting with people I know IRL but with my tiny, 4-foot-tall avatar.

Quick aside: I’m short but I’m not 4 feet tall. I tried to create an avatar with no height but, when you do that, you default to 4 feet tall. I’ve fixed that now but let’s say I tried to remain virtually seated at all times. But I digress.

The meetup was led by John Cunningham of Orlando’s Unity office.

He has done some great work for the VRARA, building some momentum that has been fanned by the community’s efforts to become “The MetaCenter.”

One of the better-known figures in the all-in-on-the-Metaverse crowd, Cathy Hackl, was among a handful of speakers who talked about how the new emerging world will impact communities and industries.

She was joined on the speaker list by Alan Smithson of MetaVRse, Dilmer Valecillos of Learn XR and Chris Madsen of the ENGAGE platform.

In addition, the Orlando Economic Partnership had two people chatting.

The discussions were somewhat expected for a Metaverse-related meetup.

It was about the technology’s future, how Orlando fits into it and why the ENGAGE platform should be the one to run it.

But beyond that, it was a peek into what’s possible with The Metaverse.

So, what’s possible in the Metaverse?

Now, let’s be clear.

This isn’t Orlando’s first foray into this world.

In 2017, I interviewed Full Sail University Hall of Famer Chance Glasco about a company he started called Rumii.

The general premise was the creation of virtual meeting spaces for businesses.

Sound familiar? The Aug. 1 room essentially mimicked this product.

Perhaps the company was ahead of its time.

Still, the execution during this meetup was fantastic, not to mention, offered something I have never seen at any meetup in my years of attending: dancing dinosaurs.

Once the formal portion of the meetup ended, the room lit up in bright flashy lights, as dinosaurs, dragons and other creatures came around.

A DJ started up, creating a virtual dancefloor for our avatars.

My little guy had a blast, creating new moves that IRL me could never pull off – even though it was merely doing the movements I was doing in my living room.

The ultimate takeaway that I had with this experience was much like others in the space.

I enjoyed my time there. You can see more HERE if you’re curious.

The technology continues to improve every time I use it.

Accessibility also keeps getting easier now that dedicated businesses have created apps that can host these meetups.

And, well, there is no “but” here. The experience worked.

The Takeaways

One second, I’m sitting quietly in a virtual chair watching as if Ms. Hackl sat onstage in front of me, speaking about a relatively new topic and where it’s headed.

The next, I’m standing up, getting some exercise in with a few silly dance moves as a dinosaur roams alongside me.

Both activities, if you ask me, are what is going to make Metaverse-based experiences appealing, plentiful and enjoyable.

It may be a while until we see The Metaverse as we all foresee it.

But these incremental micro-jumps in the technology that show off what can be done today will convince a lot of people that it’s on its way.

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