Steve Jobs
Snobal Weekly

When VR Might Cannibalize Your Existing Business Offerings

“They need to consider exactly how it might cannibalise their existing business offerings.”

That’s how one Snobal team member described a conversation a while back with a large organisation looking to have some of their training packages adapted to VR so as to complement existing in real life training and development offerings.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (0101). “Motivating Thoughts of Steve Jobs”, p.29, Prabhat Prakashan

When Current Plans and Products Are ‘Aging Out’

The driver was that organisation was aware its existing offerings may be aging out. Now now. Not next week. But disruption was coming down the line and they wanted to be prepared. Innovation was happening in their sector through the use of digital including VR. VR also provided exciting possibilities through enhanced engagement, convenience, data, availability and cost.

Innovator’s dilemma happens when a good business overlooks apparent smaller but potentially disruptive opportunities in favor of its existing high-margin business.

Currently the organisation delivered all their training on site, using real actors, costumes, script design and a location – with props. It required trainees to travel to a location, spend a day out of their workday on site receiving the training. The training was expensive and time consuming to deliver. What’s more it wasn’t scalable.
The organisation were excited about VR giving them a huge competitive uptick. It would potentially place their expert content onto a national stage with the ability to unlock customers nationally, thereby penetrating into new markets. But underneath the discussion on the potential was a note of fear.
How would they package the VR training with their existing offering? What would they keep, what would they let go? If they were going to provide VR of one training package, then why not all?
How could they best offer a blended experience? Adapting all or a large part of their training to VR meant they wouldn’t need any or as many actors or coordinators. What would this mean for their training team and learning designers? And what did this mean for the business as a whole?

When a ‘future focussed pivot’ is best

The issue came down in one sense to strategy. Or rather what to do when a strategy no longer serves an organisation and needs to be reconsidered – or replaced.

Take Ford.

As this insightful article on business improvement from management consulting firm Kaufman Hall articulates, in 1908, Ford first produced the Model T automobile tailored to the broadest market. But then over 100 yrs later, in 2018, Ford announced that it would stop making all U.S. internal-combustion sedans except the Mustang.

All organizations… need to confront the fact that no strategic plan lasts forever.

Why? Why did this world leading brand decide to ditch its core strategy? To stop producing something that had been a core of its history? The answer, as the article outlines – a ‘future-focused pivot’. To electric vehicles.
Ford looked at its business, its core product, its offering and the market. It looked at what was successful and what needed to be left behind. It made a decision and moved forward.

Drivers to Update Strategic Plans

Often common business practise says changes to strategy plans can be signalled by four key drivers:
1. Funding environment changes
2. Policy environment changes
3. Competitive environment changes
4. Leadership changes
We’d like to add one more.
5. Technological changes

What struck you most about Ford’s pivot and what lessons this might give to organisations looking to harness new technologies such as VR/AR? We’d love to hear.
And if you’re interested in reading more of the Innovators Dilemma check out this article.

In case you missed it

Measuring the Metaverse: Meta has partnered with with the research arm of The Economist the Economist Impact to undertake a “foundational research program” – The Inclusive Internet Index (#3i), to support the development of an “indicator framework that measures metaverse readiness at the country level”. More

The Metabanks are coming: a new Deloitte report cautions banks to prepare for the next paradigm shift finding that “the evolution of customers’ behaviours, combined with generational change and technological evolution, is pushing banking boundaries beyond 2D digital”.More

Read more
Snobal Weekly

Why NFPs Might Want to Consider Virtual Reality for Fundraising


HUMAN EMPLOYEES ESSENTIAL: We thought there was only one type of employee – the human one. But apparently, there are at least two according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. (And we wonder why some humans are getting a little paranoid about AI!).

YOU’RE WEIRD: Think much of the news on technology companies and founders is “weird” – or that we are living in a “weird” time? Don’t worry you’re not alone. According to a recent podcast by Ezra Klein, US journalist, political analyst, and host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast, the culture creating AI is “weird” and it matters. More>Spotify account needed].

SAVE THE METAVERSE: A case is made for saving the metaverse as the “internet is already ruined”, writes Wired writer, Megan Farokhmanesh in the June edition of the magazine. But there is an acknowledgment that the metaverse is not starting from scratch. Hint: Look at video games. More>;

In focus
With all the talk on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and big business this week it might be easy to forget that the technology (#XR) also holds promise for Not for Profits (NFPs).

Take virtual reality (VR) for philanthropy.

New research from the International Committee of the Red Cross – ICRC of the Red Cross (#ICRC) partnered with the University of Geneva (#UNIGE) evaluated the potential of VR as a fundraising tool. The findings? “VR could be a viable tool to innovate fundraising”.

VR experience led to stronger emotional feelings (notably being moved and sadness) and improved quality of the experience (e.g., level of interest and vividness).

The Inspo:

The research was inspired by the fact that many NFPs are needing to engage in new ways with younger generations especially given that over the coming years, there will be “a large wealth transfer between generations”.

And as any astute marketing (or fundraising) professional knows, it is critical for organizations to be where their target market is – or will be. In this case, the research indicates that younger generations prefer to connect using technology and value emotional engagement and seeing the impact of their actions.

This brings us to VR which is increasingly being recognized as a “richer medium than most used in fundraising strategies, such as email campaigns or videos”.

In fact, previous research by Kandaurova and Lee (2019) found that:

“VR was a catalyst for empathy and social responsibility, thereby increasing the intention to donate both money and time.

Future work

Future work is needed in areas such as exploring the impact of VR with a diversity of donors’ age groups.

But another area that we think would be fascinating to explore further would be payment gateways.

Are donations increased when people can contribute from within the NFP fundraising VR experience?

For example, take NFP websites. At the moment if you are on your favourite NFP website the ‘Donate’ or ‘Get Involved’ button is obvious as you navigate through the website. At any time reading or watching content, you can click ‘Donate’ on the website, become a supporter, and share your credit card details.

Although not specifically mentioned we wonder if there was an integrated payment gateway or checkout within the VR experience. Would donations or similar conversion-like behaviour be even higher if a person could make a donate / support action from WITHIN the VR experience? In short, drawing in the potential donor while emotional engagement might be at its highest.

We think it would be an interesting area of exploration especially given that financial giants like Amex, Visa, and Mastercard are already looking at this area. Mastercard alone last year was reported to have filed a series of patents and trademarks over the last couple of years signalling its interest in entertaining the so-called “metaverse”.

In case you missed it

APPLE VISIONPRO LAUNCHED: This week Apple launched their Mixed Reality (not VR!) device ( not headset!) and it’s a game changer for spatial computing (not metaverse!) according to many. Some industry analysts have even heralded how revolutionary it is (despite the hefty price tag). Apparently “the fact that another major tech player has entered the space,[which] will drive both interest and innovation in VR and metaverse applications”. (Note: We like!).More>

TRAVEL INDUSTRY RIPE FOR METAVERSE DISRUPTION: The travel industry is “ripe for virtual disruption” according to McKinsey & Company & Co and “the metaverse presents a $20 billion opportunity”. The ancient city of Hegra is reported to the #UNESCO World Heritage Site to be placed “in the metaverse” with Saudi Arabia Royal Commission for AlUla (#RCU) having announced that it had “entered the metaverse, in line with a national program to drive technological transformation and innovation”. More>

UNICEF LOOKS TO THE METAVERSE: A new report by UNICEF Innocenti and #Diplo is looking at the metaverse and children concluding that XR technologies offer the potential for children to learn in a more immersive and engaging way but that care needs to be taken to ensure we don’t let the technology run away from us.More>

Blatant brag

We love a bit of ‘shiny’ at Snobal and this week on our LinkedIn page, we shared some ‘eye candy’ from DuluxGroup.

Dulux VR

Using our immersive VR platform DuluxGroup is able to bring to life a range of ‘learning and assessment by doing’ applications. They are also able to access amazing immersive environments (like the one below) for remote collaboration with their team members and customers.
Anyone fancy a spot of painting this weekend? 🙂

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Snobal Weekly

Lessons in Metaverse standards and why we’ve been here before (sort of)

It’s no surprise that the metaverse would look to have its own standards but the biggest thing we can learn from the history of internet standards? We’ve been here before.

Standards are like technical specifications or criteria and have been around for over 7000yrs since the time of ancient Egypt and Babylon reports Standards Australia.

But let’s take the internet.

Imagine if there were no fixed rules on how web content should be created or how browsers should present that information to people.

Image: NextWeb, 2015

Imagine if web developers had to make a website for every single browser. 

Or that browsers, to separate themselves from the competition, added features and functionality which made serving up the content a constant nightmare for web developers.

Sounds far-fetched right? 

Not really.

This is how the internet worked up to the development of web standards in the 1990s as outlined in this article in Smashing Magazine from 2019.

“When standards were introduced, browser makers were encouraged to adhere to a standardized way of doing things — resulting in cross-compatibility becoming easier for content makers and there no longer being the need to build multiple versions of the same website.”

Back to the future?

Right now we are in what we will say are pre-metaverse standards time.

Where VR/AR content has to be developed for specific devices, where backward compatibility is a pain, and where cross-compatibility and interoperability are a goal on the horizon.

The newly formed Metaverse Standards Forum spearheaded by The Khronos Group with members such as Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia EpicGames, Adobe, and countless other technology companies pioneers in the development of VR/AR (including we aim Snobal 🙂 ) are seeking to address this.

Through prototyping, hackathons, and the development of open-source tools the aim is to make it easier for developers to build across platforms as well as help develop shared terminology thereby building an open and inclusive experience for all.

Shared language

Shared language and terminology is slightly ironic given that it appears that the word ‘metaverse’ is itself causing confusion about what the term means.

Once again we will need to go back to the 1990s and the internet to realize we have been here before.

In the 1990s people often did not know how to explain what the internet was like this 2015 NextWeb article outlines.

Remember the term “surfing the internet”? (ahem…you will if you are a certain vintage). This was how Scholastic a US publishing and media company, used the term to help kids understand the internet (image below).

And TIME magazine looked to another analogy – the information highway.

Image: NextWeb, 2015

Still, others used terms like ‘world wide web’ or ‘the web’.

It can be easy to forget now that the internet was not pervasive when it was launched to the public in 1991. It took time for shared understanding, language, and standards to develop.

In fact it was not until October 24, 1995, that the Federal Networking Council (FNC), a U.S.organization, unanimously agreed on a definition for the ‘Internet’:

“Internet” refers to the global information system that — (i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons; (ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP-compatible protocols; and (iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein.


And it was this shared terminology and standards that really enabled the internet to take off. That and the decrease in the price of computers enabling more consumers to purchase one.

Metaverse or metaverse? Maybe it depends on if you think its important

Also, have you noticed the capital ‘I’ in the definition above?

Because even whether the word ‘internet’ was capitalized (Internet) or non-capitalized (internet) was up for debate in the 1990s / early 2000s as this Wired article outlines and it was also construed as a ‘political choice’.

(de)capitalization is a political choice. Capitalizing the word Internet connotes that the technology is important, something few people would dispute. But rote capitalization also treats the complex, dynamic internet like a static object, contributing “to the types of simplistic dialogues about our technological future that are most problematic…


So there you have it. Metaverse standards are in some sense a logical next step. Our task now is to learn from the lessons of the past.

This post originally appeared on Snobal Weekly. Signup to receive your copy delivered directly to your inbox each week.

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Infinity Room Snobal VR
Snobal Weekly

New Release To Snobal Brings Enhanced Collaboration

The latest release to Snobal VR is a big one. We have added new collaboration tools including:

  • Infinity Space – you can now load and view 1:1 scaled models (factories, manufacturing equipment, aircraft, ships, etc) from the no-code Snobal admin dashboard to view in the infinity space. Great for customer product demos to increase buy-in and understanding, design testing and review of engineering designs, or even use for new hire onboarding.
Image: Infinity space displaying 1:1 scaled model of an aircraft

  • 3D model controls – use the scale and rotate controls for 3D models to get up close to 3D models that you import into your virtual environment. Great for customer product demos and design collaboration and review.
Image: 3D model controls in action
  • Breakout Rooms – we’ve added breakout rooms to templated environments including Reception Hall, Command Room, and the Amphitheatre. Ideal for team breakouts and private meetings.
  • Whole room voice broadcast – a whole room broadcast feature on the Amphitheatre podium. Ideal for use in whole team presentations.
  • Crowd Control – the ability to mute and remove disruptive attendees from virtual environments.
  • Table Manners we’ve added the ability to teleport to and auto orientate the view for group meetings. Helps in ensuring social etiquette and comfort.
Image: Launch of VR apps from within a Snobal VR environment. VR apps can be built by Snobal, by the customer, or by a third-party developer of the customer’s choice
  • Launch VR apps from within the Snobal VR space – you can now upload your VR app from the no code admin dashboard and then launch the app within Snobal VR. Great for delivering virtual training and assessment as part of a curriculum, for example.

And there’s more….

We’ve also brought on some general life improvements including:

  • Network reconnection upon internet droppages.
  • CI/CD setup for Pico Neo3, HTC Focus, and Windows builds
  • Multiple Scalability improvements:
    • Huge reduction in Avatar RAM usage
    • LOD system for Avatars
    • Enable/Disable lip-sync based on distance
    • Improved logic to reduce Avatar transform traffic
    • Enabled Foveated rendering

Want to experience these features firsthand? The best way is to schedule a demo. Reach out below.

Schedule demo

In case you missed it

Metaverse and Fintech: The metaverse has major implications for the future of financial technology and could enable a digital economy writes Stephane Kasriel, previously CEO of Upwork and an early team member at PayPal. Read more.

Government eyes Metaverse: The government should care about the metaverse writes an article in GovTech where Governments can use the metaverse for reasons such as to better inform residents and entice public participation. Read more.

Sony stakes a metaverse claim: Sony is readying for the metaverse with a cross-platform push with Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida stating “mobility will be the next megatrend”. Read more.

This article first appeared on Snobal Weekly. You can subscribe to receive updates here.

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How we show up: Psychology of avatars in enterprise metaverse
Snobal Weekly

How we show up: Psychology of avatars in enterprise metaverse

Research suggests people alter behaviors based on assumptions about the appearance of their avatars, so what does this mean for avatar design in enterprise VR / the metaverse?

Avatar comfort and preference

Over the last month, Snobal has been discussing the topic of avatars frequently with our enterprise customers. How avatars should look (photorealistic or animated)? Should they be full-body or is half body sufficient?

User avatar comfort and preference is one key area of interest that’s important to keep in mind when talking about VR.

In short: is the user comfortable with the avatar that represents them?

In VR an avatar is something a user selects before entering a virtual environment or experience and where the user experiences the environment from the avatar’s point of view.

At Snobal currently, we have deliberately not offered users the ability to select photorealistic avatars. We have done this a bid to prevent any ‘uncanny valley’ experience. Instead, users can select animated avatars like this:

But what is the uncanny valley? The uncanny valley is a concept first introduced in the 1970s by a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Masahiro Mori, who coined the term to describe the observation that robots that appear humanlike are more appealing but only up to a certain point. At a certain pt, they start to feel…creepy.

Did you know? Snobal Cloud now enables 3D asset import

Snobal Cloud now enables 3D assets namely GLTF and GLB file import: This enables customers to upload and render in a Snobal virtual environment 3D models and 3D animated models.

Read more

While the original article was written with robots and prosthetics largely in mind the same concept also applies in VR – if you seek to make avatars too photorealistic you risk having users getting distracted by the avatar or perhaps feeling unease at other users avatars and not achieving what they need to in VR environment whether its effective employee onboarding, product demos, workplace training etc.

Our favourite observation though by Mori echos with lessons for any VR designer or enterprise requesting photorealistic avatars for their virtual environment:

Thus, because of the risk inherent in trying to increase their [robots]degree of human likeness to scale the second peak, I recommend that designers instead take the first peak as their goal, which results in a moderate degree of human likeness and a considerable sense of affinity. In fact, I predict it is possible to create a safe level of affinity by deliberately pursuing a nonhuman design. I ask designers to ponder this. To illustrate the principle, consider eyeglasses. Eyeglasses do not resemble real eyeballs, but one could say that their design has created a charming pair of new eyes. So we should follow the same principle in designing prosthetic hands. In doing so, instead of pitiful-looking realistic hands, stylish ones would likely become fashionable.

– What Is the Uncanny Valley? Creepy robots and the strange phenomenon of the uncanny valley: definition, history, examples, and how to avoid it, 2019

For those interested you can read the original essay (translated) by Masahiro Mori here.

Impact of Avatars on behaviour

This goes to a related issue – avatars affecting behavior in VR.

Research suggests that people alter their cognitions and behaviors based on assumptions about the appearance of their avatars. (Sherrick et al, 2014).

For example, research has shown that taller avatars behave more confidently in a negotiation task than participants assigned shorter avatars. (Yee & Bailenson, 2007).

(Hint: perhaps consider avatars are all the same height in an enterprise VR experience?)

And other research found that the “more anthropomorphic (lack of androgyny) avatars were perceived to be “more attractive and credible and people were more likely to choose to be represented by them”, (Nowak & Rauh, 2005).

All of this falls under what you might call the Proteus Effect – the effect an avatar has on the user and others around them.

Both the Uncanny Valley and Proteus Effect are a fascinating exploration into the psychology of avatars and its an area we are going to see an explosion of research, learnings and insights over the coming years. It will also be interesting to see how VR/AR software companies iterate and make improvements as we learn more about how avatar comfort and preference influence user engagement and comfort in the VR environment.

In case you missed it

Accessibility in VR: VR is not going away so now attention turns to making it more accessible. More>

Microsoft believes the metaverse is coming and that transparency and interoperability are key. More>

Architects ignore VR at their peril: Architects who choose not to adopt the use of VR into their design process “fall victim to being at a significant disadvantage” writes the ArchDaily. More>

Metaverse job listings have grown by 379% since October 2021, according to research from Adzuna, a job search engine. More>

Qualcomm seeks to power the Metaverse : Qualcomm has recently announced the set up of a $100M metaverse fund to invest in virtual and augmented reality developers and technologies in a bid to power the metaverse. Not a surprising move given last year president and CEO Cristiano Amonsince is reported to have said the metaverse will be “bigger than mobile.” More>

Accenture’s perspective on the enterprise metaverse: Fortune Global 500 company Accenture has announced a revamp of its orientation process with employees in Australia and New Zealand now launching into “the company’s metaverse”. It has also released a report on its perspective on the metaverse – the ‘metaverse continuum. More>

KPMG recently released its metaverse report – Future of Extended Reality 10 predictions, 15 experts’ outlining some central theme, trends and insights shared from 15 experts including Snobal’s CEO, Murray James. More>

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Snobal Weekly

Standards in XR: The Reality of Privacy

As Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (XR) become more pervasive the urgent need for clarity and transparency around standards in XR becomes clear.

According to some industry analysts, there are three key elements of the metaverse. These elements might not get as much focus or attention as the metaverse itself but they do deserve attention.

☑️ Presence – the sense of being ‘there’ when in a virtual environment.

☑️ Interoperability – the ability to move seamlessly from one virtual environment/world to the next bringing digital assets and avatars.

☑️ Standardization – guidelines or a rulebook for the best way to do something. (Well, we have standards for Food Safety and Health & Safety so why not the metaverse?)

But when we look at standards in XR it becomes apparent that they are embryonic, especially when compared to the pace of current technological development and adoption.

But there are organizations that are playing a key role in driving standards in virtual reality and augmented reality(XR) and there is now an increased urgency to their work.

This includes the Bipartisan Policy Center and the XR Association’s, XR Initiative, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, which is looking at metaverse standardization, and the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI) which looks more specifically at safety standards in XR.

A Privacy Framework for XR

The XRSI is a not-for-profit that ‘promotes privacy, security, ethics and looks to develop standards around application security for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR)’.

Working in partnership with national governing bodies, universities, and businesses in late 2020 XRSI released a medical, privacy, and safety framework.  

The Privacy framework version 1.0 has is described as “a globally accessible baseline rulebook” and the first step to bringing a global privacy framework for XR.

Importantly this includes looking to an expanded definition of personal information in light of the potential of tracking and capturing biometrical data in ways not previously available.

Privacy by design – and default?

One of the most important focus areas of safety in XR is privacy.

We all like when the technology we use is convenient and intuitive. But sometimes the promise of convenience can mean the loss of privacy for the user.

With XR the question arises of how government decision-makers and policymakers can consider how existing or proposed data protection laws protect users’ rights. For example, do XR developers ensure that sensitive personal data is encrypted in transit and at rest? Who owns the data and where is it processed and stored?

In the framework, XRSI looks to Ann Cavoukian’s “Seven Privacy by Design” principles to guide this topic. These principles are recognized as a core part of the European Union GDPR regulations.

The framework looks to privacy by design encapsulating seven key elements:

01.Preventative, not Remedial
02. Privacy as the Default
03. Privacy Embedded into Design
04. Full Functionality
05. End-to-End Security—Lifecycle Protection
06. Visibility and Transparency
07. Respect for User Privacy

Privacy in XR is an area we are going to read and hear a lot more about. If you’d like to know more about this topic there are some great resources out there:

Participate in XR Safety Week (6-10 Dec 2021) with coverage on topics ranging from child safety, diversity and inclusion, media XR and digital human rights.

Thinking Ahead About XR: Privacy and Security in an Immersive World

VR/AR: Privacy & Autonomy Considerations in Emerging, Immersive Digital Worlds

XR Security, Privacy, Safety, and Ethics Considerations in Higher Education

Assessing AR/VR providers? Consider security

If you’re in the midst of assessing VR/AR platforms and product providers for 2022 consider asking these four security questions.

Want to know more about Snobal’s security approach on the VR/AR platform for enterprise and education? Reach out.

In case you missed it

With everything digital by default in organisations is it time to get rid of the IT dept? This article on the WSJ thinks so and outlines how an IT department is preventing companies from being innovative, agile, customer-focused, and digitally transformed. Read more>

Ultraleap bags investment to accelerate hand tracking: a technology company focusing on VR/AR hand-tracking and haptics, has announced that it has completed a GBP £60 million (USD $82 million) investment to “accelerate the transition to the primary interface – your hands – because there are no physical controllers, buttons or touchscreens in anyone’s vision of the metaverse.” Read more>

Top Performers in all sectors are increasingly aggressive in tech investment: The pandemic had sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years, with research by McKinsey & Co showing that top economic performers across all sectors are already ahead taken more actions than peers such as cementing technology partnerships, increasing investment and R&D. Read more.

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Virtual workplaces
Snobal Weekly

Considering the Virtual in the Fit for Future workplace

As organisations seek to land on a suitable workplace model for their business assessing the place and impact of the Virtual Workplace in any new model is key.

The office will continue to be an important site for workplace collaboration reports a new insight piece by PwC but it won’t be the only space.

To help organizations take the next step, PwC has collaborated with international design firm Hassell to explore what the future workplace might look like.

The other place?

It paints an interesting picture of the fit-for-the-future workplace. In the article, PwC outlines that there will be three key places -the home, the office, and the third place for eg a co-working space or cafe. All these places are physical.

It causes us to wonder that perhaps what the world now looks like is that virtual is a shadow connecting all these physical places and people work connected across the different ‘places’?

Source: Inspired by graphic in Changing Places: Designing hybrid offices that work, PwC, 2021.

Workplace models

The PwC insight piece reflects a document by Hassel which reviewed the latest academic research and their insights on the future of the workplace.

The document “Remote? In-person? Hybrid? How to structure the workplace after COVID has Hassel compare five workplace models spanning:

1) As it Was 2) Turbocharged ABW 3)Clubhouse 4)Hub and Spoke and; 5) No office.

Again all the workplace models portrayed revolve around a physical place.

Fit for Future workplaces and the metaverse

This is interesting in the context of a new research paper – “Into the Metaverse” – by insight agency Wunderman Thompson.

The paper evokes now as a time where more and more of our lives are spent virtually and “it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish “real” life from a life lived digitally.” People are moving seamlessly between the physical and the virtual doing what they need to do – communicate, collaborate and work.

In terms of the fit for the future workplace we are moving to a time where the workplace is seen not as a physical space but rather as a space (both virtual and physical) where people do things.

The shift to remote work is giving rise to companies prioritizing virtual environments…The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the future of work, pointing to a flexible hybrid model. “We anticipate never going back to five days a week in the office. That seems very old-fashioned now,” stated Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever…”

Source: New trend report: Into the Metaverse. Wunderman Thompson, 2021.

Because virtual environments are limited only by imagination it means organisations won’t be restricted by the physical limitations of office size, office design, structural columns – or budget.

Virtual environments can be created that reflect the company brand. These environments can be updated regularly and extended.

This seamless move between physical and virtual will create new business models, careers, and revenue models.

New opportunities, markets, and careers

Indeed design technology specialist Chloe Sun, of HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering firm recently wrote a piece in outlining how with the tech available and the rise of the metaverse architects can move from designing physical workplaces to also designing virtual workplaces.

The metaverse Sun goes on to say, provides architects the opportunity to move from selling their time to selling scaleable products and solutions.

For architects, the metaverse is a virgin territory full of possibilities, and a Utopia without the constraints of the physical world…Architects can also build digital assets like cities, buildings, furniture, sculptures, point clouds, textures..etc, and sell them multiples times to virtual worlds, games, and movies.”

You could say it’s all part of the rise of the workplace metaverse. What’s your organisation’s take on the workplace moving into the new normal?

In case you missed it

The metaverse is coming and apparently, brands need to get on board or risk getting left behind reports a new research paper by intelligence insight agency Wunderman Thompson. More>

Are you a User or Creator? Digital tech is the future, but Australia risks being left behind finds a new academic article in The Conversation. More>

Legal Guide to the Metaverse: A multi-disciplinary team of lawyers at US-based Reed Smith have compiled a user-friendly guide to the legal issues that the metaverse will create. More>

Designing for the Hybrid World of Work [Podcast]: Matt Blain, Managing Principal for UK & Europe, Hassell and Jeff Phipps, General Manager, ADP UK & Ireland discuss what to consider when designing an office space for hybrid working. More>

Top VR podcasts. More>

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criteria to follow when evaluating technologies including VR/AR for business
Snobal Weekly

Want to add VR/AR tech to your digital toolkit? Here are the top criteria to follow when evaluating tech

For many businesses globally, the last few months have been spent looking at what technologies are needed for the new normal. VR and AR are at the top of the list but how best to assess and evaluate?

A just-launched Australian government report from The Productivity Commission reveals Australians are expected to keep working remotely after the pandemic subsidies with hybrid working the most likely format.

For many businesses globally, the last few months, in particular, have been spent looking at what technologies are needed for the new normal, and invariably virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality(AR) are at the top of the list.

But what criteria should be followed when evaluating VR/AR technology for your organisation?

Hybrid/WFH Technology kept the wheels turning – and often made them faster

There is no denying WFH technologies played a key role in keeping many businesses’ work moving forward over the last 18mths.

The US-based National Bureau of Economic Research found the widespread adoption of WFH technology increased productivity in WFH compared to the office:

The model suggests the widespread adoption of WFH technology increased the productivity of working from home relative to the productivity of working in the office by 46 percent between the onset and the end of the pandemic.

Source: The work-from-home technology boon. April 2021

No surprise then that those businesses that had already beefed up their digital adoption pre-pandemic ensured that were well placed to take advantage of the ‘virtual first’ environment,

Our results indicate that firms with higher digital resilience, as measured through our pre-pandemic WFH index, performed significantly better in general, and in non-essential industries in particular, where WFH feasibility was necessary to continue operation.

Source: Digital Resilience: How Work-From-Home Feasibility Affects Firm Performance. March 2021

Questions to guide VR/AR tech assessment

Many businesses have spent the last 18+mths experimenting with WFH digital and collaboration technologies but the use of VR/AR had not been widespread pre-pandemic. When remote working took off in earnest many organizations suddenly looked at VR/AR through a new lens to solve mission-critical problems like customer engagement and collaboration; employee collaboration; employee onboarding and workplace training.

But in terms of criteria to follow when evaluating technologies including VR/AR for business, we like this article from Vera Solutions, which we have adapted for assessing VR/AR tech. See below:

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Can you think of any other questions that would be helpful to ask? Share your thoughts.

In case you missed it

Apple still working on AR hardware – apparently. Apple’s launch event last week unveiled the iPhone 13 but the long-awaited release of an AR headset did not materialise. Perhaps that is because the phone is turning into an AR machine? More>

Growth of B2B: We’re at the dawn of a renaissance in B2B commerce creating a new playbook for the next generation of B2B marketplaces. More>

A new era of distance learning: Predictions are we are entering a new era of distance learning that is synchronous, interactive, engaging, and dare we say it immersive? More>

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Snobal Weekly

Snobal and University of Arizona Partner to Research Virtual Avatar Preference in Bid to Ensure More Inclusive Virtual Learning Experiences

The innovative research recognises VR adoption for learning in enterprise and education is at a critical inflection point and there there is a need to look to industry standards.

Welcome to Snobal Midweek. This is where we share our update of what we’re hearing, sharing and thinking about this week. As always if you find Snobal Midweek of value, please comment, forward or share.

Snobal and the Center for Digital Humanities at University of Arizona have announced they are the successful recipients of a Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) grant investigating the impact on learning of the choice and comfort level with digital avatars in immersive learning experiences.

As VR technologies become more widely adopted in educational settings  to enhance student engagement there is an  increasing focus on how best to ensure that VR technologies and experiences are accessible to people from diverse backgrounds and abilities.

The research will study students’ preference and selection of virtual avatars in an immersive virtual environment and how those decisions and options can foster a more positive learning environment for people from diverse backgrounds and abilities.

“The world works very differently than it did a year ago.  We are seeing a huge shift in where and how people work and study and the adoption of digital technologies such as VR. VR has the potential to change the way we learn, collaborate and communicate but many of the elements around responsible development and use are still evolving including guidelines on virtual avatar design and preference,”

– Ann Nolan, Snobal co-founder and Chief Growth Officer

“We know that the experience people have of their virtual avatars impacts how they feel in VR. Avatars can literally change people’s behavior and attitudes and how they feel about themselves in VR. But we don’t know what avatar choice needs to be made available to students to ensure inclusive learning experiences? What drives avatar comfort in learning environments? This research is about enabling us to better understand this so the broader VR industry can have clear direction,”  said Nolan.

Did you know: Avatars can change users’ behavior and attitudes. Research on the Proteus Effect has found that embodying Albert Einstein can increase cognitive task performance.   Read more.

Bryan Carter, Director of the Center for Digital Humanities and Associate Professor of Africana Studies, will introduce his students to Snobal’s enterprise VR collaboration and presentation authoring app, Snobal Sphere, using the Pico Neo 2 Eye headsets.  

The students will have a selection of diverse options as they establish themselves in the virtual environment and begin engaging with the course content. Anonymous data collected via survey, eye tracking and choice will be used to enhance user experience throughout the semester and presented through a white paper at the end of the study.

“Digital avatars are supposed to represent the user, but the virtual representations have often been a generic, one-size-fits-all variety, lacking in cultural diversity and physical ability…There is an opportunity now to develop industry standards and broad guidance on avatar comfort and other preferences to ensure that virtual technologies are accessible to people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

– Bryan Carter, Director of the Center for Digital Humanities at University of Arizona

The use of digital technologies including VR/AR for remote collaboration has accelerated in both business and educational settings in the last year with online education assuming greater importance than before and students’ needs and expectations having changed.

The Snobal and The Center for Digital Humanities at The University of Arizona project is funded by a research grant from FRL, which requested proposals targeting the company’s third Responsible Innovation Principle: “Consider Everyone.” 

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Enterprise VR collaboration us is coming
Snobal Weekly

The Challenge of Collaboration: Adding VR collaboration to your digital toolkit

Key questions our customers ask on implementing a VR collaboration solution.

Welcome to Snobal Midweek. This is where we share our update of what we’re hearing, sharing and thinking about this week. As always if you find Snobal Midweek of value, please comment, forward or share.

Collaboration. The word is everywhere.

While the pandemic induced disruption has driven us all into our homes and onto our devices, it has also made the word “collaboration” have a resonance in a way it never had before.

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As the chaos caused by the last year slowly subsides slowy, business leaders, CEO and boards across the globe are wrangling with the knowledge that hybrid working is here to stay and what that means for how they work.

Employees want to have an office to go to but not all the time. In fact, just a bit of the time and when it suits them. Given that everyone isn’t going to race back into the office anytime soon, what does the organisations digital toolkit around “collaboration” need to look like for the “new normal”?

What is needed to enable more effective employee and customer engagement, collaboration and learning to keep ahead of the game?

In a world where remote working is the new normal, organizations must excel in digital collaboration and harness the power of digital technologies and processes to achieve business outcomes.


If you are an organisation in healthcare, engineering, medtech, pharmacuticals, management consultancy, education, workplace training, media, museums and culture, in fact any industry sector and are wanting to add immersive or virtual reality (VR) collaboration to your organisations digital arsenal what do you need to consider?

Collaborative learning can help managers work together to establish new ways of communicating and managing dispersed workforces, while also supporting greater team agility and employee empowerment.


What are the things you need to be asking and thinking about?

We’ve captured some of the key questions we get asked from customers about implementing VR collaboration in the workplace.

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Have we missed any? Still have questions? Let us know.

In case you missed it

Realistic avatars and learning: Are realistic looking avatars needed to enhance virtul reality learning? Maybe not. More >

Hybrid Work Is Here To Stay. Now What? [Interestingly this interview with Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom on blending remote and on-site work does not appear to take account of the potential impact of immersive VR collaboration. ] More>

60% want to work out of the office, but only 2% of want to do this full time. More >

How to calculate the ROI (or Return on Immersion) for (consumer) VR requires new ways of thinking – and moving. More>

Epic Games acquires Sketchfab to become a 3D files powerhouse on the web. More>

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