I first heard about the Metaverse at Comic Con a few years ago where I took a workshop on it. There was so much excitement in the room. There were people from the film industry, the gaming industry, conference attendees who were curious what the term meant. Once it was a little more defined, I was in. I have always been interested in the interaction of technology without sitting in front of a computer. The idea of having a digital self (avatar) that can move between scenarios (worlds) seemed liked a lot of fun to be fully immersed in technology. After getting a virtual reality (VR) headset, I was fascinated and delighted. The metaverse is still in its infancy, but the idea of moving between worlds and talking to other avatars in the worlds sounds incredible. When I first got the headset, I would get motion sickness pretty easily, where I had to remove the headset for a few minutes and get re-oriented before putting them back on. Then I learned if I sit when using the goggles, I don’t get motion sickness at all. Now I can play.
Because the metaverse isn’t quite ready for prime time, I continued to learn about VR, VR applications, gaming, artificial intelligence, and related emerging technologies. That led me to building a company called TrainingLab. It is a VR application designed to provide soft skills training for employees in organizations. This is an easy way to start working with VR while we wait for the metaverse to evolve. Some of the skills that are covered in the application are communication, leadership, teamwork, etc. We go to conferences and have attendees try the application and they are delighted. Most of the time, it’s the first time they have experienced VR and actually learning in the environment is a novel way to train skills that require actions. In our application, the users have to talk and practice newly learned soft skills with AI characters in a VR environment. It’s completely free from and the user is given a scenario and situation where they can learn and display a particular part of a soft skill. In the communications area, the first skill to learn is active listening. Every time the user demonstrates that they are actively listening, they get points to let them know that they have used the skill. At the end of the session, the user is given feedback.
I am very excited about the future and the promise of emerging technologies. Once the metaverse starts becoming more mainstream and the hardware is less clunky, we will be interacting with technology very differently. VR is already being used for training – especially in the medical industry.
This is the perfect blend for all of my interests and expertise. Soon I will be able to do Human Factors Engineering (HFE) for medical devices using VR, XR (extended reality), AR (augmented reality) and/or MR (mixed reality).
I can’t even imagine how all this would work in the metaverse. It will all depend on early adopters such as myself to shape how this new technology evolves. It is an exciting time. I like that VR forces the user to be fully immersed (similar to being in a movie theater) and away from distractions that can be caused by the cell phone. For now, I will stick with VR technology and continue bringing it to more people and learn how users interact with it and how those interactions can be improved.