As I walked through my own private conference room, marveling at my own mostly miniscule achievements, I thought, “I could get used to hanging out here in the Meetaverse.”
No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Meetaverse, from Allseated, is a browser-based 3D meeting platform. Meetaverse builds these tailor-made 3D spaces for conferences, companies and meetings. Or it will, after the platform launches this week. The company told me it already has a catalog of hundreds of locations they’ve scanned and rendered in 3D, and 10,000 3D objects that they can drop into the 3D environment.
As the name suggests, the finished Meetaverse spaces have a metaverse flavor. They are 3D, virtual environments with avatars, activations such as articles to dive in and read, videos to watch and, as I saw in my own space, details about the brand. To make me feel more at home, Meetaverse filled my space with details about me: There were walls with my photos, my social media stats, and articles I’ve written.
The avatars — mine included — looked like a cross between EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E and a 1960s TV set. The top half of each avatar is filled with a screen with a live video feed for each meeting participant. . There were also a number of NPC avatars floating around to fill the virtually cavernous space. On the left side of my browser screen was a more traditional foursquare live video feed of me and the three Meetaverse representatives: Chief Marketing Officer Cal Nathan, Marketing Director Nick Borelli, and Project Facilitator Manager Lauren Holley.
Unlike the metaverse, Meetaverse is designed for browsers and not VR headsets (although Mettaverse worked on Oculus-friendly versions for a while). They want it to work in any browser, but they told me the experience is best in Chrome for now. Watching the platform build my 3D Meetaverse space reminded me of VR 1.0 meeting rooms of the late 1990s. Still, the graphics and movement through those spaces have never been better.
Although it is not exactly a realistic representation of a conference room, the Meetaverse looks good and uncluttered. There was an entrance area, a welcome area, breakout rooms with semi-transparent glass walls and a large presentation room.
First I tried using the on-screen navigation buttons and then my mouse to move, but it was hard to control my movements. At the suggestion of the Meetaverse exec, I switched to the arrow keys on my laptop and found movement intuitive and relatively smooth. However, I didn’t like the fact that after you released an arrow key, you kept taking a few virtual steps – the executives insisted it was intended that way.
While you can walk through solid objects (again, another design conscious decision), there’s no way to quickly teleport from one place in the Meetaverse to another (you can dial in and out of entire Meetaverses events or – meetings). I was wondering if in case of a busy Meetaverse fair you could press the tab key and jump from one booth to another. Borelli insisted that this will kill some of the system’s serendipity.
While my demo room was a conference room, Holly told me that the first use case is just meetings, just like the ones you might have in Zoom or Google Meet. I asked them if their approach is exaggerated.
“It’s more along the lines of experiential than other platforms you mention. Adding more experiential elements facilitates more of the oasis away from those kinds of atmospheres [ike static Zoom and Google Meet].” said Nick Borelli of Meetaverse.
Okay sure. I can see that Meetaverse makes a meeting more fun, but all those 3D and eccentric avatars can be a bit distracting.
Meetaverse can build an environment in three to four weeks and charges $15 per head (with a minimum of 500 users). The price per seat drops if you sign up for more than a year.
In the meantime, I need to figure out if I can give tours of my own Meetaverse.