The Metaverse is evolving into a sophisticated and accepted environment. New expressions and experiences in business, culture and communications are quickly changing in a high-speed Internet and 5G wireless world.
[Listen to the podcast version of this post here]
Human acceptance of this new digital frontier has been accelerated by working remotely in an upside-down COVID19 world. Facebook’s $10B investment in Metaverse research along with its name change to Meta sets the tone for everything that’s coming. Humanity’s expanding need to connect, communicate and do business with each other around the world is simply fuel on the fire.
This post focuses on the result of my research on how I can use the Metaverse for work (I’m a lawyer) and meet and interact with potential clients, clients, and third parties. It’s also based on my actual use of the platforms.
By the way, I host a regular “Metaverse Meetup” each week. We try out new features and different platforms together. Every now and then I have a special guest join us. All you need is your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop of Oculus to join us. Get on my update list for a weekly reminder with private link. Also get the info at my Discord community.
While doing the above, I focused on tapping into the power of virtual reality (VR) to host work-related small and large meetings and presentations in spaces that allow for maximum engagement. This post isn’t about gaming or silly cartoon character virtual experiences. It is about building and expanding your practice and brand in this new space. I enjoy the gaming side of VR, but not when I’m representing serious clients in high-stakes litigation matters.
With the above in mind, I share what works for us and break things down into easy-to-follow steps so that you can quickly dive into the Metaverse. Within a week, we’ll be able to enjoy follow-up conversations in our respective VR offices and conference room (hereinafter our “VR space”).
There are multiple Metaverses to choose from to set up your VR office. After trying numerous options, I’ve selected the following two platforms.
I wanted to plant my digital flag in metaverses that looked professional and offered all the tools I needed to have meaningful conversations and engagements with clients and third parties. I demanded a superior initial experience and an environment that was top-notch and didn’t look like I was trying to practice law or consult in a silly digital game.
These are my three choices as of the writing of this post. I’m sure more options will come along, but for now, these are the top two options I’m using, enjoying, and recommending. If something new and better comes along– and it probably will– great! We’ll all have an excellent solid foundation moving forward.
Please note that both of these metaverses allow you and your clients to use a phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. The audio and video work just fine, and frankly, I like giving clients the option to participate with me in the Metaverse using devices they already own. The less friction and easier it is for others, the better the experience for everyone.
Spatial.io and EngageVR.io (Updated 12-27-21)
The two most professional Metaverses I’ve found and am impressed by are Spatial.io. and EngageVR.io. They both offer free and affordable paid plans and are great places to get comfortable in the VR space. You can participate in public spaces or set up your own private spaces. On both platforms, I’ve set up a private conference room and private presentation room (stage and audience) to meet potential clients, existing clients, experts, friends, and other third parties.
The following portion of this post focuses on Spatial. I wrote it before I came across EngageVR. Having said that, may of the same principles apply to EngageVR that I share in the Spatial discussion that follows. Make sure to set up accounts with each platform.
To get started, go to https://spatial.io on your phone, laptop, or desktop and create an account. While I recommend starting with your laptop or desktop, you’ll also want to download the Spatial app to your phone.
Follow the instructions to create your profile picture and place it on your avatar body. You can change your picture anytime, so don’t spend too much time trying to get things to look perfect. Because you’re using the Metaverse for business, I highly recommend using your real name so people can recognize you and refer business to you. Call me old fashion but when it comes to interacting with potential clients, “Galactic Warrior Lawyer” isn’t going to make the same initial professional impression as simply “Mitch Jackson” or “Mitch Jackson, Esq.”
Quick Tip: My new LinkedIn Newsletter is a must read for anyone interested in the Metaverse, Web3, Law and Tech. Matt Fortnow, co-author of “The NFT Handbook- How to Create, Sell and Buy Non-Fungible Tokens” gave my newsletter two thumbs up!
I cover the basics in this post (it’s all you need), but I want you to know there are good “help and tutorial” videos linked at the top of the Spatial browser window.
Moving Around in Spatial
Take an hour and get familiar with moving around in the Metaverse. Explore the public spaces and get a feel for how you can move your avatar around with your mouse and keyboard.
On my Mac keyboard, “W” moves me forward, “S” moves me backward, “A” to the left, and “D” to the right. Click and hold down on your mouse while dragging to change views/perspectives for different perspectives in a space. You can use the scroll feature on your mouse to bring your avatar closer or further away from you. You can also bring your avatar so close that you create a first-person view (it’s like you’re looking through the eyes of your avatar). You simply tap and swipe your phone screen on your smartphone to move around. After a few minutes, you’ll get the hang of it.
Note that you have a mic and video on/off option at the bottom left of your screen when using your laptop or desktop. I recommend leaving both on because it makes for a better user experience in the space. You’ll also see a control panel with a settings option depending on your plan. Take a few minutes and see what options you have and can use.
If you have an Oculus, you should turn it on, and within the Oculus space, search the Oculus apps for the Spatial app.
Once you enter the Spatial Metaverse via Oculus, you can move around via the hand controller by pointing to where you want to go and pressing the flexible toggle stick (and then letting go) to “jump” to where you want to go in the space. Rotating this stick around in circles moves your avatar in a 360 (or you can turn your body 360 degrees). Don’t worry, after a few sessions, the control of your avatar becomes second nature.
Settings and options are all available to you, regardless of how you’re using the Metaverse, via the control panel at the bottom of your screen. If you’re on the Oculus, you simply swipe each end of the settings bar away from each other to expand, enlarge and use the screen.
You can share documents, photographs, videos, notes, and almost anything else you’ll need for a meeting from this screen. My Pro plan allows me to have complete control of the room, including muting the room and removing people from the space. Before hosting an actual meeting, take some time to play around with these items and options to get a feel for your new tools. Again, the more you use these features, the easier everything will get.
Eventually, you’ll want to set up a private meeting or conference room, aka spaces. Simply use the available templates for an easy and fast experience. It only takes about 30 seconds to set up a private space.
These spaces are where I’ve been hosting my private meetings. I discovered one tip: if you’re sharing a private space with someone for a meeting (it’s like sharing a Zoom link via email or text), make sure you do this. Go to the share button in your private space, select the “edit” button and change the share setting to “anyone with a link” (or whatever option is best for this particular space). This way, when you share the link with a client or friend, they can join you without having to be part of your team. It makes the entire process easier for everyone.
You can get crazy in Spatial.io and have third parties create custom spaces for you and your firm. Right now, I’m just sticking with the beautiful free and easy-to-use template meeting spaces. Visit the Spatial.io website “help and tutorial” resources and videos to learn more. I also spent about an hour at its Youtube channel, which was helpful
Final Thoughts about Spatial
I believe the beautiful and professional graphics and environments in Spatial allow us to make an outstanding first impression and come across as professionals.
Also, note that when using your Oculus to enjoy Spatial, you can use the Oculus “share” (take a picture or record a video) and record the entire Spatial event. Once done, you can export your photo or video from Oculus to your Google Drive or other services and then use the content any way you want for marketing and branding. Spatial allows you to “integrate” with many top applications and platforms. Check the settings on your desktop for options.
Spatial also has a selfie stick in its tools menu that allows you to take pictures of yourself and others in your space. The selfie sticks are a great branding tool, so place selfie sticks around your spaces and encourage your audience to put them to use and share on social media. They can do this by selecting the “share” option after taking the selfie. You can find selfie pictures you’ve taken in the “content” section of the Spatial app on your laptop or desktop.
Please feel free to ping me if you want to jump into Spatial and kick the tires together. I can usually put 15-20 minutes aside to experience the Metaverse with an old or new friend!
Facebook/Oculus Horizon Workrooms
Horizon Workrooms (beta) is the VR space for teams to connect, collaborate and develop ideas together. You can meet teammates across the table, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
We’re using this technology for everyday internal meetings with clients and small groups. We’re also using this technology to meet with a client, potential client, or expert witness. Right now, Facebook/Oculus Horizon Workrooms (hereinafter “Workrooms” are in beta and free.
While at the time of this post, the avatars do not let you add your face to the body like Spatial, the platform, tools, and high-quality overall experience make it easy to embrace this platform and dive into the power of this VR experience.
Just so you know, we’re using both platforms and, as things now stand, using Spatial for group meetings and presentations and Workrooms for internal everyday work needs. After a few weeks in each space, you’ll figure out which space is best for you. You can start here.
Just like Spatial, you can use Workrooms on your laptop or desktop. For the best experience, use your Oculus. A good overview is here.
There are a couple of downloads you’ll need to do the first time you use Workrooms. In addition to signing up via the link above, you’ll also want to download the Oculus Remote Desktop app to your computer to view and share your computer screen in your VR workroom. You’ll find this option/link in your Workroom interface, which is also your home base for scheduling and inviting others, and teams into specific Workrooms.
The final step is as follows. If you’re using your Oculus from within the Oculus app, you’ll need to search the Oculus apps and download the Horizon Workrooms app from the Oculus Store.
Quick Summary re Workrooms (because I know it’s a bit more complicated than Spatial.io– but well worth the effort)- You have set up an account in Workrooms. You’ve downloaded Workrooms to your laptop or desktop. You’ve also downloaded the Oculus Remote Desktop to your laptop or desktop. Within Oculus, you’ve also searched for and activated the Horizon Workroom app.
Now that you have everything downloaded, to use Workrooms, start things up in this sequence. Doing so should help make sure everything will run correctly.
#1: Start the Oculus Remote Desktop app on your computer.
#2: Log into your Workrooms account.
#3: From your Oculus headset, open the Horizon Workrooms app.
Yes, this is a bit involved, and that’s why I wanted you to start with Spatial.io. However, once you do get Workrooms set up the first time, you’re good to go moving forward.
Workrooms work by creating and sharing a link (link Zoom), and you hold a meeting. You can also invite team members to join you from within the platform itself.
As with Spatial, I’d play around with the features and get comfortable with things before hosting an actual meeting. You can share items (documents, PDFs, images, videos) and write/share on a large whiteboard. Your guest can participate from anywhere via their laptop, desktop, or Oculus.
You can select your computer and bring it up in front of you during a virtual meeting. After a few sessions, I figured out I could change the size of the screen, which helped when reading a PDF. Selecting your computer makes it feel like you’re sitting at your desk, working and interacting with others.
One common question I had is whether or not others can see what’s on my virtual computer screen that I bring up in front of me? After reaching out to a few experts, the answer is they can not. What’s you have displayed on your desktop is for your eyes only.
There’s an option that allows you, while using your Oculus, to see through your VR world to your actual desktop so you can use your keyboard and mouse. It’s easy to use once you get the hang of things. The result is that you’re working in a beautiful virtual office with other people on your team from across the street, other side of town, or maybe even on the other side of the world. While doing so, you’re able to use your keyboard, mouse, and desktop computer. Sharing options are vast. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
The Oculus Quest 2 Headset
At this point, I have to bring up the Oculus Quest 2 (hereinafter “Oculus”). You can improve your metaverse experience by about 95% using a headset like the Oculus.
You can purchase it first, set it up, get comfortable with how it works, and then link to the metaverses I recommend below or, you can buy it later. While you can create and enjoy the metaverses without your Oculus, I’d order it right now if I were you.
After all, the Oculus headset technology creates a unique and almost authentic experience for everyone involved and makes moving and using your Metaverse easy and enjoyable. While multiple headsets are available, I recommend the Oculus for its ease of use, high quality of experience, and low price (around $300). While the head strap that it comes with is OK, I do recommend the Oculus Elite Strap for Enhanced Support and Comfort ($50).
The Oculus pairs easily and quickly with Spatial and Facebook/Oculus Horizon Workrooms. Each platform walks you through the process in just a few steps. If you experience any connection challenges, both sites have excellent “how-to” instructions in their FAQ.
Navigating through the Metaverse with Oculus is easy and pain-free. The hand controllers allow you to make selections, grab objects, and communicate with others in a very natural way.
Look, there are many options in the Metaverse, and the number will only increase over time. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for all of us. As of today, my choices for a professional working environment are Spatial.io and Facebook/Oculus Horizon Workrooms.
I understand and appreciate the popularity of other platforms like Decentralland, Sandbox, and Roblox, but right now, I’m not comfortable with these spaces looking more like games than professional work, meeting and presentation environments.
Because the graphics are professional and access to these metaverses can be made via your phone, laptop, desktop, or an Oculus, Spatial and Workrooms have my attention and have earned my praise.
When used the right way, I believe the Metaverse is a “next level” tool to engage, communicate, and close more deals without traveling, being away from your home, office, or family. I also believe the Metaverse is an option more and more clients will use in the next 3-5 years. Bringing this option into your firm, business, or practice today, will help you learn how to use this technology at your convenience, position you as a leader in innovation, and accelerate your future success.
If you want to test either of these platforms out with me, send me a private message, and we’ll make it happen. If you’d like to stay on top of the latest tools, tips, and approaches (like this post) when it comes to legal/biz in the #metaverse, #web3, #vr, #NFTs, and tech in general, and also connect with others who can answer your questions about this technology, please join us in my mastermind or in my free Discord.
Well, that’s about it. I’m off for an early IRL sunrise paddle down at Dana Point Harbor.
Stay safe, enjoy the journey, and make each day your masterpiece!
My Club on Clubhouse
Two Good Posts
Please give some thought as to how the below technology can pair with the metaverse experience.
As humans, we can perceive less than a ten-trillionth of all light waves. “Our experience of reality,” says neuroscientist David Eagleman, “is constrained by our biology.” He wants to change that. His research into our brain processes has led him to create new interfaces — such as a sensory vest — to take in previously unseen information about the world around us. Please see this TED presentation by David Eaglemen, “Can We Create New Senses For Humans.”