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Trends to consider as Immersive Communications continues to evolve towards the Metaverse

Bigo Live
(Image credit: Bigo)
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People want to feel connected and this desire has urged them to apply new and emerging technologies to constantly explore new ways to break down barriers to interacting with people locally, regionally, and internationally.

Over the past two decades, social media has emerged to reign supreme and is constantly evolving to enable more immersive and interactive experiences. We started with Facebook likes and shares and 140-character updates on Twitter in the late 2000s. Then came YouTube and Instagram to share our videos and photos followed by livestreaming in the last few years.

We are now moving into a world that’s more interconnected bringing graphics, videos and content to life. Since Mark Zuckerberg expressed Meta’s (formerly known as Facebook) interest in making the concept of the “Metaverse” a reality, several brands, organizations and people have already started to leverage its potential within this industry of what experts calculate to be a nearly USD 800 billion market opportunity (opens in new tab). In this new digital era, every aspect of life is extending into an immersive virtual world - from sales of virtual land in the Snoopverse (opens in new tab), to Nike’s NFT shoes (opens in new tab), to the virtual wedding held in the Metaverse (opens in new tab). Brands and individuals are now and will continue to be empowered to transform environments, cultures, economies and even social life as we know it.  The immersive landscape will continue to evolve and create opportunities in 2022, and here are 3 key areas that people should pay close attention to.

Creating shared experiences and strengthening social connections

There is a significant amount of investment required to take the Metaverse from concept to reality. However, technology has already come a long way with livestreaming being a key example of instant interactive experience.

Live shows that create shared experiences are already being hosted across a variety of industries that include gaming, sports, music and more. In fact, last year David Guetta hosted a number of United at Home concerts from Dubai, Paris and New York (opens in new tab) to raise funds for COVID-19 Relief.

In the MENA region, superstars such as Lebanese singer Yara (opens in new tab), Mai Selim, actress Fatma Alsafi and more continue to engage with their fans across a variety of platforms, one of which includes Bigo Live - a livestreaming platform with headquarters in Singapore. Several live shows take place throughout the year on Bigo Live where individuals get recognized for their talent and skills. On 14 January, 2022, over 100 rising stars from around the world will participate through online performances at their annual BIGO Awards Gala 2022 (opens in new tab) that will take place at 8 pm (UTC+8).

The social livestreaming platform continues to invest to encourage and enhance social connections and bonds. Bigo Live’s commitment to enhance computer vision, AR and VR capabilities is a peek into their vision of providing an extension of real-world interactions in the virtual world. To further empower its users to express themselves in a more creative way, the platform had recently introduced a “Virtual Live” feature that enabled users from across the world to create 3D digital avatars of themselves that will communicate with each other when they live stream on Bigo Live.

As an important part of the Metaverse experience, avatars not only enable people to build their virtual identity and relate to one another in first-person view, but also allow for interoperability among many functions in the virtual world, all of which give users a glimpse of what to expect with the forthcoming Metaverse.

Brand marketing & engagement: from Direct-to-Consumer to Direct-to-Avatar

In addition to styling avatars, brands are also exploring creative ways to increase brand loyalty by engaging with online games and releasing digital items. Recently, Louis Vuitton developed Louis The Game (opens in new tab) that combines heritage, innovation and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) art to celebrate its birthday (4 August 1821). Players within the game can travel into a w

Virtual Identities are becoming increasingly important. Since the dawn of social media, people have been constantly and consistently investing to build their extended selves (virtual identity) in the digital world. Through this, they were able to develop and nurture social connections online enabling them to potentially live two separative lives both of which are unique and equally rewarding in their own right.

However, just like in the real-world, social status is important. However, in the Metaverse, an individual’s avatar is a representation of the user enabling them to express their identity in the digital realm – which is why outfitting them with brands and designs will become quite important. 

Nike, Gucci, Balenciaga and Burberry are just a few names on the ever-increasing list of fashion brands that are entering the Metaverse looking to outfit their customers with some of the most sought-after clothing and accessories from the makers themselves.

In addition to styling avatars, brands are also exploring creative ways to increase brand loyalty by engaging with online games and releasing digital items. Recently, Louis Vuitton developed Louis The Game (opens in new tab) that combines heritage, innovation and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) art to celebrate its birthday (4 August 1821). Players within the game can travel into a world where they explore fashion house legacy over the years and collect NFTs.

The rise of an evolving content creator

The development of immersive technology is bridging the physical and virtual worlds. Apparently, people are becoming more willing to invest in the digital world which in turn will redefine the term “Content Creator”.

Today, a digital content creator is one that shares visual and audio content for users to consume whilst making money through brand partnerships. In the Metaverse, the definition of a content creator will widen to include anyone that makes digital objects – like fashion, art, furniture, etc. – for users to buy and display in their homes or environments and receive monetary tips from users who simply want to view and appreciate those objects. People like Monica Louise (opens in new tab) who sells digital clothes and earns an impressive six-figure salary on Zepeto are applying their experience and skills they developed in the real world to the virtual world.

It may sound a bit intimidating, but novice and experienced users can learn how to create objects for the virtual world. Recently, a company known as Spark AR serves as an educational platform for users to experiment and build AR features to create mixed reality experiences for VR headsets and start their journey towards thriving careers in the Metaverse.

The future is ripe with opportunity. The immersive communications within the digital arena of today and Metaverse of tomorrow, will not only be a space for content creators and digital entrepreneurs to make a living, but a place where people can go to socialize, seek support and guidance, and build friendships with people all over the world, as one of the best examples Bigo Live has shown.

Ethnicity, borders and distance will no longer be a factor of perceived differentiation and setback in this interconnected, highly engaging, and supremely productive world. Everyone that has similar interests will congregate as their avatars to showcase their true selves and potential in a digital world filled with an infinite amount of creativity, opportunity, and potential.

TechRadar Middle East