Many Finnish XR companies have claimed their stake on the approaching metaverse, the next phase of the internet, where game engine designed 3D spaces with photorealistic landscapes and avatars take center-stage.
As part of the HomeOpera project, I will examine three Finnish XR companies’ approach to monetizing the metaverse in relation to our on-going development cooperation.
Visiting virtual art galleries
Arilyn, perhaps best known for their engaging augmented reality experiences, is one of the companies embracing the new metaverse era. Their definition of metaverse is wide, including most augmented reality experiences available through their own Arilyn application or as web-based solutions.
Arilyn has launched a novel business category The Virtual Art Gallery, which allows artists and galleries to create and share online art exhibitions. The space offers 360 degree viewing, just like a real-life gallery, with paintings on the walls and 3D sculptures. The potential buyer can view the art pieces, get background information and contact the gallery directly.
In HomeOpera, we will use the Virtual Art Gallery tool to create a digital hand programme for opera performances. The digital programme will include background information about the performance and the performers, as well as video clips and audio samples from the performance.
Our aim is to examine whether the 360-degree spatial experience will increase interest and the feeling of immersion compared to a traditional paper format or visiting the opera website. We also intend to use iMotion eye tracking to examine the differences.
Immersing into virtual words
Another Finnish XR company, Zoan is best known for their photorealistic digital twins, like the Helsinki Senate Square, which has hosted virtual Mayday parties during the pandemic. Their vision is to build the world’s first photorealistic metaverse experience for companies’ future collaboration.
They have created their own metaverse location, the Cornerstone, where land is auctioned off as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain-based digital crypto assets. Companies can buy land from Cornerstone to start building their metaverse presence with credits they purchase. Cornerstone’s first land auctioning was a great success. In the matter of minutes, they sold out all ten virtual land parcels, each worth 3 EHT (8000 euros) on the FUNGI NFT platform.
Zoan has also used their skills in creating photorealistic digital twins to create a virtual stage production tool for the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Currently the tool is used internally to plan the productions.
Our HomeOpera project aims to productize the tool by creating a virtual behind the scenes tour of the opera house. The tour will include 360-degree videos from inside the opera so viewers can explore the premises. It will also include video interviews from people working at the opera to make the performances come alive. The tour will end at the virtual opera stage, where the viewer can for example change the set pieces of the performances.
Teleporting virtual avatars
In the future, remote opera viewers could also have their photorealistic avatars watch the virtual performance. Varjo, the pioneers of human eye resolution VR headsets, is also exploring teleportation, one of the hot topics in metaverse. The Varjo Teleport VR is the first step towards their version of the photorealistic metaverse hosted by the Varjo Reality Cloud platform.
Varjo’s main target group are business customers, who are seeking high-end immersive virtual collaboration space. In Varjo’s Teleport VR, you can collaborate with photorealistic avatars, hold presentations and manipulate highly detailed 3D models.
The HomeOpera project is following closely Varjo’s development work as this is another concept that can easily be applied to the performing arts. Digital social interaction is at the heart of the HomeOpera project, so if Varjo is capable to remove the physical boundaries of collective experiences, opera can be truly experienced together, but at the same time remotely.
Photorealism is an important factor to the experience of immersion, and opera is perhaps the most immersive of all performance art forms. Developing immersive 3D sound is another development path that both Varjo and the HomeOpera project share.
These three examples paint an interesting picture of the approaching metaverse era and its applicability to Haaga-Helia’s RDI projects. Each partner company has its own viewpoint on monetizing the metaverse based on the strengths and history. It is also highly beneficial to experiment on all possible platforms to assess the business potential for remote cultural experiences.
We are lucky to partner with trailblazing companies that each has the potential to become the best in the world in their chosen category.
About the HomeOpera project
The article is part of the HomeOpera – Digital Social Cultural Experiences project, which aims to develop a concept for a social XR service that improves elderly peoples’ opportunities for a high-quality life at home. The project is conducted between 09/2021-08/2023 and funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the EU’s COVID-19 recovery funding (REACT-EU).