Hey Metaverse Seekers… Been There, Done That

Design and Architecture Have Been Living With Oculus for Years

Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes

Websters defines the Metaverse as "a theoretical or emergent networked online space with digitally persistent environments that people inhabit, as avatars, for synchronous interactions and experiences." Interesting choice of words, including "theoretical", which in itself means, "consisting in theory; not practical." That being said, buckle up because by pure definition, what we’re dealing with, talking about, and attempting to practice is all theory.

But in fact, that's not true.

We’re seeing calls to adopt the Metaverse, or something like it, everywhere. According to The Business of Fashion: "brands need to develop technologies that help evolve today's unrefined virtual experiences into mature, immersive realities."

We're sure they're right about many 'brands' out there, but for some, including ours, this is old news. Within the design and architecture world (that of immersive physical experience creation), the idea that people can inhabit a virtual world that's used "for synchronous interactions and experiences" and "immersive realities" is very much alive and well and has been for well over a decade.

Ryan Joy, Director of Visualization Experiences at WD Partners says, "We’ve been creating virtual experiences for clients since 2008… guess that makes us the OG of the Metaverse."

So, you just have to ask, where’s everyone been? Could The Metaverse have learned something from design a long time ago?

"Design and architecture firms' job is to 'build it before you build it'" says Ryan. "We create 'transactional moments' for customers without having to drive through a snowstorm to do it." Right on, Ryan.

Years ago, while strolling through a newly WD designed physical space with the client's CEO, I asked her, "Is this what you expected?" She looked at me and said, "This is exactly what we expected. We walked through it countless times on the way here!" She was right. We had walked through the space before, and in a very Metaverse-like way; she was the Avatar, the space was immersive, and they were synchronous for months.

In 2008, we walked a famous outdoor company's client team through a 3D space with VR headsets on. We reproduced products on the shelves (sound like an NFT to you too?), and included exact lighting levels, lighting fixtures, and aisle spaces in the environment. We created a real shopping experience. During our walk through, we even suggested that this could be a new way for customers to shop (and buy) their merchandise from the comfort of wherever—even the side of a mountain if so desired. And that was only 2008!

Design and architecture firms may not be the master of Metaverse, or bigger and smarter than the Metaverse itself–we're aware of the importance of timing and zillion dollar global marketing power. But the technology to interact with new, exciting environments doesn't exist solely in the hands of Silicon Valley megacompanies tech giants owned by billionaires who sell hand sanitizer at a premium when the chips are down. In fact, "synchronous interactions and experiences" have existed where they belong (and started) for quite some time now; that being, with the teams and companies that created them. It’s what we do!

Imagine being able to walk into renderings for the next generation of your store or explore a 3D version at any point in the design process before ever breaking ground. Our in-house 3D artists, motion graphics designers, video producers, and interactive developers help make that possible. By marrying 3D modeling and animation, game engine development, and video production with architectural design, we can experiment boundlessly with innovative solutions, enhance and optimize every stage of concept and construction, and bring your plans to life in rich, realistic detail. And that, my friends, is the OG Metaverse. So, if you're interested in making Meta happen or "building it before you build it," reach out!

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