2021, another challenging year for so many. Whilst the Pandemic has thrown at us more than a fair helping of hassles, it also saw the 'coming of age' of the immersive technologies as businesses, brands and blue-chips realize the need to communicate, interact, engage, teach and learn in a digital world. The 'M' word found its way into common language....
VINTEC were delighted to start 2021 with a unique project for automotive brand Nissan, the launch of its all new Qashqai over VR to the major press, unprecedented and enormously well received culminating in us receiving two awards at the close of this year. As a wee treat to myself (Scottish mother...) I ventured off in support of my local cinema on Boxing Day to immerse myself in the latest installment of a firm favourite, The Matrix, Resurrections. The following is not a line by line review of the film (which is absolutely fantastic by the way) Instead, I'd like to share with you some highlights which seem to relevant, pertinent and even in some way warnings to the fast moving immersive world we see forming about us. Most in the Immersive Tech industry, ourselves included, predict 2022 will be a very, very significant year for the trailblazers, forward thinkers and organisations planning today their digital presence in the Metaverse (there I said it.... two paragraphs in!)
So, for the 'blue pill' kinda folks, thank you so much for reading this far and best wishes for 2022. Those reaching to the red pill... "welcome to the real world"... or 'not' real world.... err metaverse (sounds so much better when Larry Fishburne says it!) Here are three takeaways from the film which I think have relevance over the coming twelve months.
'Not The Metaverse' It surprised me that the film did not mention (at least I do not recall hearing) the word metaverse... Good, as this has become something of an over used and misunderstood word. The film of course centers around the entire human race being enslaved as nothing short of battery cells and mind-fed digital pulses of their entire existence, "do you think that's air you're breathing?" I picked up on a something said by 'the analyst' brilliantly played by Neil Patrick Harris, rather gloomily describing this 'current version' of The Matrix as one which holds mankind in fear of loosing what they have whilst holding them desperate for a better existence he declared that the earlier version of a near perfect world was simply not bought into by Humankind!
Lesson: Let's not make metaverse spaces too polished, too perfect, too sterile. Let human anarchy play some part of the creative process here. When I think back to childhood holidays, I don't recall picture perfect scenes, spotless accommodation and flawless dining (my holidays were none of those things.... still aren't) but I was 'me' and I was allowed to 'experience'. Our metaverse spaces must center around human experience, interactions, engagement they must leave memories so that we shift away from 'internet consumption' and into 'metaverse engagement', this is how guests will remember you, your message, your story. Also very noteworthy was the seamless way that holographic avatars teleport between 'real world' and meta highlighting the relevance for XR within our developments enabling shared experiences regardless of geo-location.
Blame it all on AI In a very obvious nod to the original film Morpheus the 2nd declares "it was at some point early in the 21st century that we celebrated, we marveled at our brilliance, the creation of AI. We are not sure when.... the machines took over!" This blog is to short to fully explore this fascinating statement but my takeaways from this and other Hollywood dystopian miseries suggest that AI must be built to 'know' that it is not 'human' to know that it is principally and foremost to 'serve humans' and must not bring harm or ruin. In fact, it all comes down to the three principles brilliantly penned by Isaac Asimov, yet its his later addition of a forth (preceding) law or zeroth law which really captures the fundamental backbone essential within AI development "A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm". One might put forwards for example a AI to solve toxic gas emissions, ultimately caused by humans.... eradicate all humans right...! Of course we at VINTEC are very much in support of all developments in AI but are mindful of the enormous ethical, political, humane responsibilities its creators have to balance.
'The self projected digital representation of ones self'
As companies such as ourselves build digital spaces, places of interaction and digital trade, commerce and communication it is wise to give thought to our digital avatars. Interestingly, the film does not use the word avatar.
I'm looking forwards to seeing how we express our digital representations of ourselves, my avatar is already a little taller, younger and less grey!! Joking aside, the movie is groundbreaking in its use of Metahuman software from UnrealEngine producing young, current and old versions of Keanu, which is real, which isn't? In a promotional piece by Epic Games Keanu Reeves speaks about his own 'digital self' being managed by an agency to protect 'it' from misuse, miss selling, inappropriate political or social statement etc. He candidly remarks that agencies already exist for professional artists and that the digital representation, managed by the artists team form part of the estate, effectively living on past the grave. This will have profound change to future of 'celebrity'. Already, during 2021 we've been building Metahumans used as brand ambassadors, front of house etc. we expect to witness a population of digital humans 'born' over the coming year or so.
The Immersive Tech industry is set for very exciting growth and development, we may even begin to see wearable XR glasses within the next 12/18 months, as they improve these are likely to move us away from our smartphones and into a meta-world, 'Matrix-lite' if you will... 2022 will be a very, very significant year for the trailblazers, the forward thinkers and those organisations writing their next chapter of history today.
The VINTEC team thank all of our supporters and look forward to breaking new ground in the year ahead, very best wishes for 2022, "welcome to the real world".
Author: Vincent McAtamney | December 2021
Vincent has over 30 years’ experience using technology and AV experiences to move and connect people. He is the founder of Immersive Technology content creators VINTEC. He consults with public sectors and businesses to solve common problems, increase engagement and productivity using immersive and new technologies.