In this episode of the DevReady Podcast, hosts Andrew Romeo and Anthony Sapountzis have an insightful conversation with Alan Smithson, Co-Founder at MetaVRse which is a proprietary, code-optional web platform that makes it easy to create and share interactive 3D experiences instantly. Alan is also the Host of XR for Business Podcast. Listen in as the three of them talk about the future of technology and the limitless possibilities that exist for those willing to embrace creativity.
“A minute of footage was like ten thousand dollars just to stitch together.” – Alan Smithson
Know of the iconic performance by the French DJ and pioneer of electronic music, Jean Michel Jarre on the 31st of December, 2020 where he performed live in a 3D visual reconstruction of the emblem of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris? Well, that immersive event that was available on the social VR platform VRChat, accessible via a personal computer or in virtual reality for those who have a VR headset was made possible courtesy of Alan and his team.
During this conversation, Alan shares how this all started; with him realising how truly transformative technology could be if only one were willing to look for possibilities. As Alan recounts, the path wasn’t easy and it was strewn with setbacks. Back in the day, the phones used would overheat rather quickly. Adding to it was the problem of having to manually stitch the seams of screens that overlapped because of having to use seven cameras. And if that weren’t enough the go pros would fail, the battery would die—it was a battle to make it all work.
But they did not give up and came up with solutions so much so that they shot a ton of footage and even built a library of content. All that paid off when they were featured by Samsung and eventually went on to pitch the idea of a VR photo booth to Samsung. Looking back, Alan knows that he has come a long way and along the way, since 2015, when MetaVRse was born, the company has done well over 120 projects and has claim to eight World-firsts—AR sandbox being one of those. As the company grew, so did the challenges, two of which he highlights as being:
1. Asset Management at scale for enterprise
When they started out there was no system for digital asset management system for 3D content.
2. Content Creation
There was no easy way to create the content. It was expensive and there were only a few people in the world who knew how to do it.
Faced with the challenges, they set out to, overcome those as well. They set up a web AR project and realized a few key points: it has to be web, it has to be easy to use, and it has to not require code. As a result, an accelerator called XR Nights was set up—where there were 65 mentors from around the world and 160 companies applied. Among many successes, Alan takes an example of a company that was able to trigger AR with no loss of functionality. Amazed at the endless possibilities his company worked with theirs for nine months to finally reach the conclusion that the companies had to be merged: the former had a core engine that was able to render millions of plugins in a mobile browser and the latter had a brand and loyal customers. That is the origin story of the MetaVRse engine which fared well even during the pandemic as it was very showable on screen. As Alan states, the pitching was easy over Zoom and they had around 2500 meetings with customers. That ability to pitch gave the company not only customers and revenue but also insights into what enterprise customers needed and wanted from a product.
“The future belongs to everybody and the more people that can create the more it will be created in the ways we want it to be and not just created by a bunch of big corporations that see ‘this is how we are going to do it’.” – Andrew Romeo
Alan goes on to talk about their work on two verticals: training and marketing and how the end goal is to create value for customers. Like Canva allowed everyone to be photoshop wizards, with the MetaVRse engine, the goal is to allow everyone to be creative. As he puts it, ‘In the hands of the creators, it can get really crazy.’ He wraps up the conversation by saying that the future belongs to those who are willing to be creative as that is the only way to make a future that we want and not that is handed down to us by corporations.
· Touch Screen Technology
· Virtual Reality
· Overcoming Challenges Faced
· Building World-Firsts
· Working in Training and Marketing
· Creating Value
· Being Creative
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