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What a conference in the metaverse looks like

Mytaverse conference hall
Virtually there.
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published Last updated

Remember in-person conferences? It wasn’t so long ago that attendees would fly to far-flung destinations with promises of inspiring conversation, networking, free food and maybe even a good panel or two.

Then along came the pandemic and shifted in-person events to Zoom and other digital platforms which felt, well, flat.

Responding to the clamor for engaging meeting solutions during the pandemic, Mytaverse, a remote meeting and virtual showroom platform, has developed an array of immersive virtual spaces to cater to every type of meeting. Environments designed by the Miami-based start-up’s team of coders and trained architects include a gold-toned plenary hall, an outdoor amphitheater, and a suite of lobbies to foster chance encounters among participants.

“We really wanted to design for serendipity which is something we lost,” explains Kenneth Landau, Mytaverse CEO and co-founder. “This is a technology that allows people to get together when they can’t be in the same place, even after the pandemic.”

Participants can customize their avatar’s appearance and choose to project a photo or live video of their faces.
A chance encounter with peers en route to a meeting.

No VR headset needed

Participants don’t need a VR headset to use Mytaverse, but it takes a bit of practice to set up your avatar and get acquainted with keyboard commands to get around.

Jaime Lopez Villegas, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, says meeting in virtual spaces is one cure for Zoom fatigue—the physical and mental exhaustion caused by video conferencing. “Here you are more relaxed because you can just refresh your view by just turning around and looking out at the water outside, for example,” Villegas says, pointing to a window overlooking a simulated seascape when we met in a Zaha Hadid-inspired lobby on Mytaverse.

“Looking at scenery helps a lot when you’ve been in a three- or four- hour conference. This is why people can play video games all day long but they can’t stand to be on Zoom call for that duration,” he says.

Audience members at a plenary, identified by their names and photos.
A virtual panel during a business aviation conference last year.
Microsoft’s Kence Anderson on the virtual stage at PepsiCo’s conference.

Convening in fully-developed virtual environments could help participants build richer memories of the events and people they encounter at the conference, suggests Brian Kean, Mytaverse’s marketing chief. “We develop a spatial memory; there’s depth, there’s sunlight, maybe a waterfall,” he says. “You somehow feel that we’re really in the same space together.”

Avatars don their company logos in a networking session.
A crowd forms for a demonstration at an exhibitor booth.

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