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Exploring the Metaverse concept at KMWorld Connect 2021

Extended reality (XR) includes 360-degree imagery, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and spatial computing. These immersive technologies are starting to merge to bring the Metaverse concept to real life while storming most every industry to provide many new methods to communicate and collaborate in this space.

Chad Mairn, librarian, innovation lab manager, St. Petersburg College, discussed the possible new ways to work remotely, connect with groups, collaborate, and innovate during his KMWorld Connect 2021 session, “Extended Reality Tech Update: Next-Gen Collaboration.”

“With the Metaverse we can almost walk inside the web,” Mairn said.

Economists believe that VR and AR technology will generate new economic opportunities around the world, Mairn explained. However, Zoom fatigue is a serious thing until you get into more 3D interactions, he said.

Though Facebook has rebranded its parent company to Metaverse, the term has been around since the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Mairn noted. Highlights from the Facebook Connect conference included interactions in virtual reality such as partaking in hobbies to attending meetings at work. Digital humans or avatars are also prominent along with a way to interact with your surroundings through augmented reality.

An example of this is a more sophisticated version of the Google Glasses. He predicted we’ll begin to see movement to visual search through our eyes.

“We’re 3D creatures, we live in 3D space, we work in 3D,” Mairn said.

Though he predicts AR and VR are the future, there are many pitfalls that have to be addressed including the prevalence of misinformation.

Another example of this technology is Microsoft Mesh. This enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere, on any device through mixed reality applications. He said the natural evolution of this will migrate to our workspaces.

“We all are going to be able to participate in this space,” Mairn said.

Other interesting use cases for VR include translation serves for the deaf or hard of hearing, virtual reality for the blind, designing art, and more. AR and 3D objects can be embedded into online documents thanks to a “model viewer” web component. This can transform research papers/presentations, he said.

KMWorld Connect 2021 is going on this week, November 15 -18, with workshops on Friday, November 19. On-demand replays of sessions will be available for a limited time to registered attendees and many presenters are also making their slide decks available through the conference portal. For more information, go to www.kmworld.com/conference/2021.

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