As I strolled through my own private convention hall, marveling at my own mostly tiny accomplishments, I thought, “I could get used to hanging out here in the Meetaverse.”
No, it’s not a spelling mistake. Meetaverse, from Allseated, is a browser-based 3D meeting platform. Meetaverse builds these bespoke 3D spaces for conferences, businesses and meetings. Or it will be after the platform launches this week. The company told me that they already have a catalog of hundreds of scanned and 3D rendered sites and 10,000 3D objects that they can drop into the 3D environment.
As the name suggests, finished Meetaverse spaces have a metaverse flavor. They’re virtual 3D environments that include avatars, activations like articles you can dive into and read, videos you can watch, and, as I’ve seen in my own space, brand details. To make me feel more at home, Meetaverse filled my space with details about me: there were walls with my photos, social media stats, and articles I’ve written.
The avatars – including mine – looked like a cross between EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E and a 1960s TV. The top half of each avatar is filled with a screen showcasing a live video feed for each participant in the meeting. There was also a bunch of NPC avatars floating around just to fill the practically cavernous space. To the left of my browser screen was a more traditional Foursquare live video feed of me and the three Meetaverse representatives: Marketing Director Cal Nathan, Marketing Director Nick Borelli, and Project Facilitation Manager Lauren Holley.
Unlike Metaverse, Meetaverse is designed for browsers, not VR headsets (although Mettaverse has worked on Oculus-compatible versions for a while). They want it to work on any browser, but told me that, for now, the experience is better on Chrome. Watching the platform build my Meetaverse 3D space reminded me of the VR 1.0 meeting rooms of the late 1990s. Yet the graphics and movement through these spaces have never looked better.
While not exactly a realistic rendering of a conference room, the Meetaverse looks nice and well laid out. There was an entrance area, a reception section, breakout rooms with semi-translucent glass walls, and a large presentation area.
I first tried using the on-screen navigation buttons and then my mouse to move around but it was hard to control my movements. At the Meetaverse executive’s suggestion, I switched to the arrow keys on my laptop and found the movement intuitive and relatively smooth. I didn’t like, however, how after releasing an arrow key you continued to advance virtually a step or two – the leaders insisted this was by design.
While you can walk through solid objects (again, another conscious design decision), there’s no way to quickly teleport from one location in the Meetaverse to another (you can, however, move in and out of entire Meetavers events or meetings). I was wondering if, in the case of a busy Meetaverse lounge, you could hit the tab key and jump from booth to booth. Borelli insisted that would kill off some of the system’s serendipity.
While my demo space was a conference room, Holly told me the first use case was just meetings, much like the ones you might have in Zoom or Google Meet. I asked them if their approach was overdone.
“It’s more on the experiential line than other platforms you mention. Adding more experiential elements makes it easier to oasis away from those types of atmospheres [ike static Zoom and Google Meet]“, said Nick Borelli of Meetaverse.
Alright, of course. I can see Meetaverse making a meeting more fun, but all those weird 3D avatars can be a bit distracting.
Meetaverse can create an environment in three to four weeks and will charge $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 know if I can start giving tours of my own Meetaverse.