Mediaweek

Meta head of innovation Jason Juma Ross discusses the metaverse

Meta collaborates with brands on a range of innovative and creative technology to pioneer the revolutionary space as it grows and evolves.

media week was one of the first press to visit the Meta Experience Center at the Sydney headquarters in Barangaroo.

Meta’s head of innovation, Jason Juma Rossspoke about the opportunities in the fast-growing field, the potential in various industries and the tech giant’s recent partnership with Foxtel Group.

What is the metaverse and what does it offer?

Meta describes the metaverse as “the next evolution in social connection and the successor to the mobile internet” and a place to “hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more”.

Ross noted that exploring the metaverse is a “natural evolution” for the company as the area develops and expands. He said: “The metaverse is much bigger than technology, AR and VR, and extends to more areas like education and other industries.”

The tech giant also described it as digital spaces where people can seamlessly move and connect with others, even if they are not in the same place. To help cross over into those digital spaces, the MetaQuest 2the tech giant’s VR (virtual reality) headset from A$479, and Ray-Ban Stories from A$449.

The recently released white paperThe Potential Global Economic Opportunity of the Metaverse, noted that the metaverse economy could be worth more than $3 trillion in a decade.

Industries that will experience near-impact growth from the metaverse economy include gaming, social media, e-commerce, and live entertainment. An example highlighted by Ross was a person who connected with a friend through social media, attended a concert together, and later bought merchandise from the event.

The fast-growing field can also offer a lot of interactivity and engagement in other areas, such as the workplace. Meetings can be held with team members in different locations through Meta’s Horizon Workrooms. Meanwhile, architects and designers using Arkio can collaborate to create rooms and buildings through VR.

While the metaverse is in the early stages of growth, Meta is working with policymakers, experts and industry partners to build it responsibly. The technology giant has invested $50 million in global research and program partners to ensure that people-centric technologies are developed responsibly with people’s security and privacy.

One of the Australian beneficiaries of the investment is Project Rockit, which examines how young people feel about their relationship with AR and VR and how they can create safe online social communities.

The other is the Australian National University which examines the structure of the metaverse and the interplay of its technical, social, cultural, regulatory and environmental elements.

The metaverse, marketing and Meta’s partnership with Foxtel Group

The metaverse is leaving its mark on the marketing industry. Hyundai Australia used an augmented reality (AR) filter on Instagram to give car buyers the spatial audiovisual sound experience of the N Series.

Potential buyers can take a virtual tour of the vehicle by scanning a QR code. The experience provided real-time translation and performance simulation without specialist equipment. From there, customers could seamlessly schedule a test drive.

Meta also recently teamed up with Foxtel Group and used the metaverse to highlight Fox League’s new show, benjichosted by retired NRL star Benji Marshall.

In the recently released episode – available to stream on Kayo’s facebook and Instagram – Marshall interviews Cooper Cronk in a Meta Horizon Workroom customized with digital memorabilia from Marshall’s career.

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Metaverse episode of Benji with host Benji Marshall and his guest Cooper Cronk

Jacqui Abbottgroup director of content communications at Foxtel Group, said: “The way the public discovers content and news is changing every day. Social platforms like Meta are constantly evolving and we want to be at the forefront of that change.

“We had the chance to do something innovative and fresh by promoting one of our new signature weekly NRL shows, Benji, and the metaverse provided the perfect environment for experimentation.

“Working with the Meta team to get hands-on with VR technologies and capture our on-air talent in conversation throughout the football season has been excellent, and we look forward to seeing the fans respond,” she added.

Ross acknowledged that more projects were in the works and that he continued to explore and develop capabilities in the area, particularly working with entertainment companies.

Dipping my toe in the metaverse

It was then time for me, a casual and very simple gamer, to go into the metaverse and test the Meta Quest 2.

I had heard of the metaverse before and briefly discussed it with Ross event† I was intrigued by the potential of what it had to offer, but had to see it to believe it.

Ross and his team took us to the Meta Experience Center and showed previous models of the headset.

The current Meta Quest 2 is a much slimmer and slimmed down version of its predecessors. It was also a far cry from the early version of VR – a harness-like device with a large headset that showcased old-school 3D graphics.

I mounted the Meta Quest 2, and after the initial set up and getting familiar with the hand controls, I got into the metaverse.

I tried First Steps — a fun game that was a great introduction to VR for the uninitiated like myself — and danced with a robot before taking a bike for a test ride. The phrase “like a kid on Christmas Day” is probably the best way to express the fun I had.

After removing the headset, I was back in the real world. I was impressed with how rich, engaging and interactive the visual and physical experience was.

Using Meta Quest 2 was a fun foray into the metaverse. This world will only thrive if other tech companies create ways to make the metaverse accessible and broadly appeal to all types of consumers.

At the end of the metaverse experience, Ross noted that the Meta, like many other tech companies, is still learning about what can be done in the metaverse and looks forward to working with partners to make the future a reality.

Top image: Jason Juma Ross

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